A homebuyer's survey could reveal structural issues with the property, saving you from an expensive mistake or meaning you're well informed about the cost of repairs if you go ahead.
Buying a home is probably the most expensive purchase you will ever make. It is well worth getting a survey done to get a clear picture of what you are paying for.
If you're buying in England, the main accredited body for surveyors is the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors
(RICS). They have three levels of surveys to choose from:
- Level 1 Condition Report
- Level 2 HomeBuyer Report
- Level 3 Building Survey
Alternative accreditors are Sava
. Surveyors linked to these organisations will offer slightly different reports.
Worryingly, one in five buyers fail to commission a survey, according to RICS. Of those that do, the majority choose a Homebuyer Report. Before you pay for a Homebuyers Survey, make sure you know what you will get for your money. Find out in this guide.
What is a Homebuyers Survey?
A Homebuyers Report is a survey to identify any problems with a property that would require immediate or future repairs. For instance, structural issues such as damp and subsidence. You can also choose to include a market valuation of the property.
What type of property is a Homebuyers Survey for?
A Homebuyers Survey is suitable for any residential property – from a flat to a house. But it is most suited to properties built less than 50 years ago that have not been renovated and appear to be in good condition with no apparent signs of damage.
For older properties or those that have been extended, a Building Survey may be a better option as it will uncover more hidden issues.
For a new-build or nearly new properties, a condition report would probably suffice.
What's covered in a HomeBuyers Report?
The surveyor will inspect all visible and accessible aspects of the property's exterior and interior, including the roof, walls, ceilings, bathroom, kitchen, loft space, and outbuildings. The guttering, windows and doors, heating, drainage and water services will also be inspected.
It does have limitations, though; the surveyor will not look behind furniture or lift flooring. It may be supplied with caveats, limiting the surveyor's liability, which could be an issue if you do later discover a significant problem.
The surveyor will provide an estimated cost of rebuilding the property for insurance purposes. Some Homebuyer Reports include a market valuation for the property.
How much does a Homebuyers Survey cost?
The cost depends on the type and size of your property. Prices start at around £450 but can be as high as £1,000 for a large home.
How long does a Homebuyers Survey take?
A Homebuyers Survey can take anything between 2-4 hours to complete. You should then expect to wait around 3-5 working days for the report to be produced.
What does a Homebuyers Report look like?
A Homebuyers Survey Report is presented using a traffic light system to indicate the condition of each aspect of the property. Green meaning no repairs are needed, and red meaning urgent attention is required. The report is written in a way that makes it easy to understand without complex jargon to decipher.
Below is a summary of what each of the traffic light statuses means.
Green (Condition Rating 1) - indicates that the area referenced needs no repairs and has no areas of concern. These should continue to be maintained in a normal manner.
Amber (Condition Rating 2) - highlights areas with defects that need repairing or replacing but are not considered urgent. These areas are unlikely to impact the property's overall value but are likely to need some additional maintenance or repair in time.
Red (Condition Rating 3) - highlights defects that need severe or urgent repair and need to be replaced or investigated immediately. These are the areas that should be seriously considered as part of the overall purchase. They may be areas that make the purchase void, or they may be areas that warrant re-negotiation based on potential repair cost.
Pros & Cons: Homebuyers, Building Survey & Valuation
There are a few different types of survey which may suit your property better. Here is a brief summary of the pros and cons of each of the survey types offered by RICS.
- Great for new-builds or nearly new homes
- Would pick up any severe defects
- Very basic survey and doesn't go into any detail
- It doesn't include any advice on repairs and maintenance
- Great for standard properties in reasonable condition
- Affordable and reasonable in-depth
- Only visible areas that can be easily accessed are surveyed
- It doesn't include the estimated cost of repairs
- The most thorough survey you can get. Great for older homes, those that have been renovated or built in an unconventional way
- Includes photographs, costing and timelines for required repairs
- It can take up one day to complete
- An expensive option
Is a Homebuyers Survey Worth It?
This is the most common question amongst home buyers, especially in London. With so many costs to account for, from stamp duty to solicitors fees, many wonder if the additional cost of a survey on the home is worth it.
However, make this saving, and you may live to regret it. If you end up buying a place that you didn't realise has a roof that needs replacing or has terrible damp issues, it could end up costing thousands to put right.
You can also use the report to negotiate on price or ask the vendor to make the repairs before buying the property. For example, if the property needs a new roof costing £5,000, you could reduce your offer by this amount.
If you're looking to buy in Central London, Plaza Estates is a leading independent estate agent. We can advise you about which survey to opt for and tell you more about our portfolio of outstanding properties. Contact us today.