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Advice From A Buying Agent: Types of Property Surveys

August 30, 2017

Advice From A Buying Agent: Types of Property Surveys

As highly experienced buying agents, we have seen more than our fair share of run-down properties or seemingly perfect homes with hidden horrors. Consequently, we heavily encourage you to have a survey done prior to any final price agreement. By investing time and money in these early stages, you can save a lot of both further down the line. If problems do need fixing, you may be able to negotiate the asking price lower in order to cover these costs. This is something that a buying agent would be able to help you with.

When appointing a surveyor, we highly recommend that you ensure they are a member of a recognised governing body, preferably the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). For extra reassurance, it is also worth trying to source a few references, even going as a far as to read some reports.

Outlined below are the main types of survey that you can choose from.

RICS Condition Report

The cheapest option available at roughly £250, the RICS Condition report is the most basic form of survey. Offering only the bare minimum of investigation and information, this survey is only suitable for new-builds and standard style homes in very good condition. It provides a summary of the current risks to the building and establishes a conclusion based on a traffic light system. A green rating indicates that all is okay, orange that there is cause for concern and red that there is need for further investigation and serious repairs. Whilst this survey may identify some of the more obvious risks to the property, it will not provide you with any advice on how to deal with them. If we were acting as your buying agent, we’d generally recommend that you invest in something more exhaustive and helpful.

RICS HomeBuyer Report

Starting at roughly £400, the RICS HomeBuyer Report is a step up from the Condition Report. Suitable for standard style in a reasonable condition (the vast majority of houses), this survey will identify any signs of structural problems within the building. For examples, symptoms of subsidence, damp or rot. However, the survey is non-intrusive, meaning that the surveyor will not look beyond the surface. They will not look into the walls, below the floorboards or behind the furniture. Some surveyors will include a property valuation within this package, allowing you to challenge the figures of the mortgage lender should issues arise. From years of experience acting as buying agents, we can confirm that this can put you in a good spot to negotiate.

Home Condition Survey

Similar to the RICS HomeBuyer Report, this survey tends to start at around £400 to £500. It gives the same level of inspection as a standard building survey and is carried out by highly qualified specialists. As well as the obvious structural problems, they will also look at areas such as broadband speed and clarify any boundary issues. For added clarity, their report will display your results in a 1,2,3, rating format. This will help you to clearly identify the most significant and pressing problems. To further aid you, the surveyor will provide advice and suggestions on how you can approach these problems. To ensure quality and consistency, these reports are independently reviewed and checked.

Building or Full Structural Survey

Whilst this is the most expensive type of survey, it is also the most extensive. Starting at approximately £600, this survey is suitable for all residential properties but particularly those in obvious need of repair or older homes. As in the above reports, the surveyor will not generally look below floorboards, behind furniture or in walls, but they should mention any potential hidden problems. The report will then provide lengthy detailed advice on repairs. You can then try and negotiate for these costs to be deducted from the valuation.

Mortgage Valuation Survey

For this type of survey, price can vary quite widely depending on the property size and value, ranging between £150 and £1,500. However, to sweeten the deal, some lenders will offer free valuations as part of their package. Essentially, this survey provides the lender with confirmation that the property in question is actually worth the price you plan on paying, or rather, the amount they plan on lending. This is often needed in order for them to approve your mortgage. In contrast to all the other surveys, this report does not identify any structural problems or highlight potential repairs. Remember, this valuation is purely carried out to advise the bank/lender how much they would get for the property in a forced sale situation should the borrower not pay their mortgage. It is not a current market valuation and may often be less than you have agreed to pay. We would always recommend that an open market valuation is commissioned in your name.

Buying Partnership has years of experience working with surveyors and other building specialists. Contact us on 0330 223 6339 to discuss how we can help you.

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