What is a Single Survey?
The Single Survey has been pushed by the Scottish Executive as a means of enhancing the level of information available to potential house buyers throughout Scotland within a Home Report.
In an effort to reduce the amount of wasted money spent on house surveys that do not lead to a sale, this new Single Survey scheme has been introduced to help home buyers make a more informed decision when making the biggest decision of their lives.
The report is designed to tackle three previous weaknesses in the house buying and selling process in Scotland:
The over-reliance of buyers on Scheme 1 valuations that only provide limited information on a property’s condition
The potential for multiple valuations which results in unnecessarily abortive costs for house buyers
The setting of house prices at an artificially low level by sellers in order to stimulate interest in a property, resulting in needless money spent on surveys and valuation reports
What does a Single Survey cover?
As part one of three documents of a Home Report, the Single Survey is carried out by an RICS surveyor and reports on the key aspects of any property from top to bottom; giving an unbiased assessment of the property’s condition and an estimate of its market value.
The inspection informs potential home movers about the type, accommodation, neighbourhood, age and construction of a property. It also informs buyers about the extent of the inspection and makes note of any areas that the surveyor was unable to inspect that could have a bearing on the overall condition of the property.
Following the completion of the survey the surveyor is required to provide a summary of the condition of the property in list form. This is designed to alert buyers to the potential for urgent or future repairs and areas that are in good condition and require no immediate action.
The cost of repairs may have a significant bearing on the amount a buyer is prepared to pay for the property and it is important that estimates are sought soon after receiving the Single Survey to appease potential buyers.
Guidance is also provided regarding the level of accessibility in and around the property. This is very important for disabled buyers looking for a home suitable for wheelchair access or with the potential for adaptation. Meanwhile car parking restrictions are also detailed within an area of 25 metres of an entrance door to the property.
Ultimately the surveyor is wholly responsible for the content of the Single Survey. Although he or she may have been instructed by the seller to create the report, the surveyor is actually liable if the buyer believes the findings are inaccurate. Subsequently it is in the surveyor’s own best interests to create a balanced report.
Mortgage Valuation Report
Some RICS surveyors are able to provide a Mortgage Valuation Report along with their Single Survey so please discuss this with the surveyor. Bear in mind that not all surveyors belong to all the mortgage lenders panels, so there is a strong chance that your buyer will need to commission their own Mortgage Valuation. You cannot always expect it to be part of a Scottish Home Report.
The buyer and the financial adviser can use this report as an indicator as to how the lender will assess the mortgage application.
Single Surveys that feature potential ‘category three’ repairs should be paid attention to by sellers before putting the home to market. These repairs may affect the eventual selling price of the property and it may therefore be prudent to make the required changes first rather than selling your home as it is.