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The importance of home surveys

  1. 11 November 2016
  2. By Rosie Rogers

Instant home moving quote website reallymoving.com takes a look at the importance of home surveys and outlines the latest changes to the HomeBuyer Report

When it comes to buying a home, you will want (and need) to know the condition of your property before you make the decision to buy – which is where home surveys come into play. And home surveys have been in the news a fair bit of late. 

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has recently announced changes to its HomeBuyer Report, part two of three survey levels it offers.

Although the date has yet to be confirmed, at some point later this month the RICS is splitting its HomeBuyer Report in half. Customers will now have two options: the HomeBuyer Report survey or the HomeBuyer Report survey and valuation. 

With the second option users will have the option of requesting a valuation which is an open-market valuation, not a ‘red book’ valuation – which is used for probate and divorce situations.  They may, or in some instances may not, be charged more for this extra valuation.  

The first option includes all the main features of the RICS Condition Report – i.e. highlighting the condition of the property, as well as offering guidance to legal advisers and flagging up any major defects – but also includes advice on how to repair these defects and general advice with regards to ongoing maintenance.  

The second option – the HomeBuyer Report (survey and valuation) – also includes all the main features of the RICS Condition Report and the advice on maintenance and repairs, plus a market valuation and insurance rebuild costs.

In some cases, a survey level three might be required: the RICS Building Survey. A must for larger or older properties (by contrast, the RICS Condition Report is for newer homes and more conventional properties), the Building Survey is the most thorough and in-depth inspection of a property’s condition, also including advice on defects, repairs and maintenance options. 

The importance of surveys to homebuyers was further highlighted by recent research from consumer watchdog Which?. The organisation found that buyers are successfully using the findings of house surveys to renegotiate the price they pay for a home. 

In fact, two-thirds of homebuyers use problems revealed by house surveys as part of their negotiation strategy. In many cases, buyers were able to secure a lower price from the seller as a result or at the very least force the seller to fix the issue before exchange of contracts. 

However, house surveys are not something that everyone gets done, according to the Which? home movers survey. Only 56% of those who have recently bought a home had an independent home survey carried out.  A further 15% only had a mortgage valuation survey, while 24% said they hadn’t carried out a survey at all. 

The main reason for carrying out a house survey is, of course, to give a buyer peace of mind before making a purchase. Buying a home is the biggest investment most people will make, so surely people would want to know about potential problems beforehand? Even if the survey flags up no major – or even minor – issues, the survey will still have given buyers clarity. 

As we outlined above, there are three main types of house survey – a condition report, a HomeBuyer’s report and a building survey. For new-build homes, though, buyers will require a snagging survey. A snagging survey identifies any cosmetic and structural deficits that need to be fixed, which buyers can then get the developer to remedy before they move in.

The HomeBuyer’s report, which is suitable for nearly all properties, is the most common type of survey. A building survey – which tends to be for properties that are in a poor condition or more than 50 years old – is the next most popular, with a much smaller number of people opting for a condition report or a snagging survey.

While home surveys will not pick up every single issue, they are still heavily recommended as a way of providing peace of mind and preventing issues from appearing at a later date, once you’ve purchased the home. For buyers, they can also help to lower an asking price and force the seller’s hand when it comes to repairs and maintenance.  Reallymoving.com provides free instant quotes for Chartered Surveyors.

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