Homebuyers Not Getting the Right Surveys

Homebuyers Not Getting the Right Surveys

by Rebecca Hall on 29 Jun, 2011

Getting the Right Survey

Moving house is an expensive business. It is not just the high purchase prices of property that make it expensive, but also solicitor fees, stamp duty, removal firms, etc, which all add to the bill. Many people try to save these costs by cutting out some of the things that they consider unnecessary and often one of the first expenses that people save on is the building survey. While this may save money when you are buying the house – for a full building survey this can be over £1,000 – it might leave a much larger bill hiding around the corner for you.

Different Surveys

When you buy a house, you have a choice of three different types of survey:

Each will examine the property to a different degree and give an indication of any faults found and the market value of the property. But, unless you pay for a full building survey you might find that the problems are hiding away from you for months or even years. You could find that any problems only become an issue when you come to sell and your buyer gets a complete survey that highlights the issue.

Free House Valuation

If you are thinking of selling your house, it helps to know what its realistic market value is. If you price it too high then you will not sell it and if you are too low then you will lose out financially. If you get a free house valuation then you should get an expert valuation of your property from a local estate agent who is familiar with the local property market. It is also a good idea to get at least two free house valuations and compare the prices. If the two prices are vastly different then get a third to give you a better idea of the market value.

HomeBuyers Report

A homebuyers report comes in a standard format and is more comprehensive than a valuation. Over the course of roughly 25 pages, it will focus on the essential issues that may affect the price of the property. The homebuyer report has several sections:

  • Introduction
  • About the inspection
  • General opinion and summary
  • About the Property
  • Outside
  • Inside
  • Services
  • Grounds
  • Legal issues
  • Risks
  • Valuation
  • Surveyor’s declaration

Each element of the survey will get a rating using the traffic lights system of:

  • Green – No repairs needed
  • Amber – Defects that need repairs or replacements but not urgent
  • Red – Urgent defects

The homebuyers report is very useful and can give the purchaser a good indication of the state of the property and any obvious repairs that will need attention.

Building Survey

The homebuyer report is a great tool to assess the state of a property, but the surveyor is not always thorough enough. If the property is in a state of disrepair or the buyer is planning major building work then the buyer can opt for a building survey. This does not follow a set format and gives a full picture of the construction and condition of the property internally and externally. The surveyor that completes the building survey can only comment on visible areas where they can obtain access.

A house is the largest purchase that you will ever make. When you are spending so much money on a purchase it makes sense to protect yourself as much as possible. A good survey will help protect you from the cost of fixing any nasty surprises and can give you power to negotiate on the purchase price.

About the Author

Rebecca Hall


Rebecca Hall worked as an independent mortgage adviser for 10 years before turning to financial journalism full time. She has strong links to the CAB advising families on mortgage refinancing.