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5 things you might not know about…getting a survey

  1. 05 October 2018
  2. By Andi Michael

Getting a survey is one of the best things you can do when starting the buying process on a property. 

A Chartered Surveyor will be able to assess the property fully, let you know any issues that may arise in the future and can give you everything you need to make an informed decision.

1. Not all surveys include a valuation

Don’t assume that surveys come with a valuation. In some cases, they can be included with a HomeBuyer Report, but you’ll need to discuss that with your surveyor. A valuation will tell you how much your surveyor thinks the property is worth, taking into account the condition and their specialist knowledge. This valuation is put against the one from the estate agent, which is often higher. If you really feel like a property has been incorrectly valued and the asking price is unrealistic, you can use a valuation to support your claim.
However, a property really is worth what someone is willing to pay for it. Proving that a property is overpriced when someone else is happy to pay that price will do you no good. If the house has been on the market for a while, but the owner isn’t budging on price, a valuation may be useful. It can also help if your mortgage lender has undervalued and you think a second opinion is in order.

2. Surveyors are not gas or electrics experts

Often when getting a survey, customers can be surprised that the Chartered Surveyor has recommended a gas technician or electrician to have a look at the property for a more thorough run down. This is because surveyors aren’t experts in these areas. If they can see dodgy, frayed wires hanging from the ceiling or notice the smell of gas in the property, they will record this, but the survey is not designed to fully assess these areas.

A Chartered Surveyor will tell you that these should be assessed by a specialist if you are concerned, but they will point out anything they’ve noticed.

A survey is a more general assessment of the property as a whole, and the surveyor looks for specific things they do specialise in (damp, subsidence, Japanese knotweed etc).

3. Surveys are non-invasive

A surveyor can only assess things that they can access – if you want the surveyor to get into the loft or down into a basement, it really depends on whether the seller is making that space accessible.

The surveyor is under no obligation to try to get in to dangerous or hard to access spaces. In most cases you’re paying for a specialist to do a walk through of the property and consider the most regular offenders. You can request that they look at loft spaces but be prepared for the fact that it might not always be possible.

4. Surveys can give you the opportunity to renegotiate the price

One of the main advantages of having a survey (beyond telling you if you should go ahead with buying the property) is that it can give you negotiating power if issues are identified. If you’re going to have to pay for a new roof, or to fix certain elements of the property, but you still want to go ahead, you can negotiate for these costs to be taken off the price. Talk to your conveyancing solicitor about taking money off for repairs.

As you’ll have a clear report outlining the issues, and often an approximation of cost to fix them, you can take this to the seller and try to get a better deal.

5. It works differently in Scotland

Scotland works a different way when it comes to surveys – instead of the buyer paying for one, the owner of the property has to get one in order to sell. This is called a Home Report. A Home Report covers a lot of the same things as a survey and it has to be up to date – they shouldn’t be older than 12 weeks from when you put the property on the market.

If the property is taken off the market for a considerable amount of time, and then put back on again, the seller needs to get another Home Report.

Whilst there’s no official shelf life for Home Reports, always make sure the property you’re considering is up to date, so you know you’re getting relevant information about the property.

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