Conveyancing .. the legal process for buying, selling, and remortgaging properties

Homebuyers report. Why this may be the sensible choice.

If you are buying a property and it is not a new build and covered by a builders guarantee, a homebuyers report can be worthwhile to uncover any issues that may cost a sizeable amount of money in the future.

There are different levels of surveys you can buy; most people will choose a survey based on the perceived condition of the property. Even though some of the surveys can be expensive, this should be weighed against potential future expenses that may occur.

Mortgage Valuation

This is the basic report that most people tend to choose when applying for a mortgage. It may very loosely describe the current condition of the property, but will more be looking to identify risks for potential legal issues and any urgent defects. It is mainly used by lenders to ensure that the property is adequate security for a mortgage, and also for valuation purposes. No advice is given on the survey, and its not always possible to obtain a copy of the report.

Some surveyors doing basic reports are more thorough than others, but they are normally going above and beyond if they are. So sometimes (if you're lucky) you may get more than you paid for.

Condition Report

This is another very basic report which can be obtained to supplement the mortgage valuation. It gives a better overview of the general condition of the property.

RICS Homebuyer Report

A homebuyers report could well be considered as the optimum report for conventional properties in seemingly decent condition. They go into more detail than the basic survey, often recommend specialist reports if any doubts arise, and your estate agent can often arrange for these to be done free of charge. Typical things would be damp & timber, electrics, tree report, roof, etc. If there is any sign of movement in the property, a structural engineers report may be requested, which would probably start at around £400.

If the specialist reports do show anything, and you still wish to proceed with the purchase, you will be able to use them to negotiate the price.

You have more comeback with a homebuyers report, should anything be missed.

The report does not look beyond the walls or underneath the floorboards. It will also in some circumstances offer a property valuation.

RICS Building Survey

The RICS Building Survey provides the same level of in-depth inspection as a building survey, but uses a simple a clear presentation style and a 1, 2, 3 rating system to ensure that you can easily identify the most serious issues. This is mainly aimed at larger or older properties, or if you’re planning major works.

A detailed report provides you with an in-depth analysis of the property’s condition highlighting a range of issues which includes advice on defects, repairs and maintenance options. Included with the RICS Building Survey are advice sheets on how to deal with some of the more common problems that have been found at the property including an outline of repair options and the consequences of not dealing with any potential issues highlighted within the report.

The typical cost is around £400-£500.

Building or Full structural survey

The most comprehensive survey and can be used for all residential properties. It is often very good for older homes that might need repairs. Cost for this survey are anywhere from £600 upwards and will provide details advice on repairs. The report is very detailed but in most circumstances will not provide a value for the property, so when buying a property you will need to also order a valuation report often this is done as part of a mortgage application and unless you are a cash buyer will not need to order one directly yourself.

What to do if your survey uncovers problems

A surveyor’s report nearly always finds some issues or suspected issues, especially with older homes.

You can go with them when the survey is carried out and ask questions about things that concern you.

This is about your future home, so don’t be afraid to speak up.

The most common things you’ll have to investigate after a survey include:

  • Electrical installation
  • Problems with the roof
  • Central heating system
  • Damp and timber issues
  • Complications which will need a structural engineer

What to do next:

  • Find out whether any problems, such as a poor damp-proof course, are still covered by a guarantee
  • Ask the surveyor to give you an idea of how costly it will be to sort out any problems
  • For more major works, ask a builder to give you a quote
  • Use these estimates to try to renegotiate the price or ask the seller to fix the issues before you complete the sale

Remember it’s not just about cost but also the amount of upheaval that repair work will cause.

If it all seems too much, you can walk away as you’re not committed yet.




This website is owned by and forms a part of the business conducted by Value Conveyancer Ltd, company registration number 09221971. We are partnered with LPL (a trading name of Read Roper & Read Solicitors) who have been awarded the Law Society's Conveyancing Quality Scheme accreditation. More information can be found here.