Surveyors

Surveyors are trained professionals, qualified to value and survey property.

Types of Survey

There are 3 types of survey:

  1. Valuation Report (not really a survey at all)
  2. Homebuyers Report
  3. Building Survey (sometimes known as a structural survey)

1. Valuation Report

This is required by the Lender (although paid for by the buyer) to ensure that a property is correctly valued to give the Lender adequate security for their loan.

In most cases the Surveyor will check recent comparables (sold properties) and, assuming the property in question compares favourably, will value the property at the price being paid.

If he believes it is worth less than the price being paid he will state his own opinion of the value. This will of course cause the Lender to review their mortgage offer, and reduce the amount lent, or possibly withdraw the mortgage offer altogether.

In addition to providing a valuation, this report will highlight any obvious defects with the property, such as a defective roof or an obvious case of rising damp. It should not, however, be relied upon to pick up on any issues that are not readily apparent.

2. Homebuyers Report

A Homebuyers Report is a more in depth report whereby the Surveyor rates each aspect of the property using one of the following Condition Ratings:

  • Green – no repair is currently needed.
  • Amber – defects that need repairing or replacing but are not considered to be either serious or urgent.
  • Red – defects that are serious and/or need to be repaired or replaced or investigated urgently.

3. Building Survey

For a Building Survey, the Surveyor will thoroughly check the property to examine the structure, its general condition and all faults and issues, whether major or small.

Costs

Prices will vary dependent on location and property size/value, but a guide is £150-£250 for a Valuation Report, £300-£500 for a Homebuyers report and £750 – £1,000 for a full Building Survey.

Which Survey?

A Buyer will need a Valuation Report if they are using a mortgage to buy the property. Surprisingly, around 80% of people rely on this alone and do not get a Homebuyers Report or Building survey.

Bearing in mind the amount of money being spent, for the sake of an extra £200 or so it is advisable for most Buyers to get a Homebuyers Report.

A Building Survey is more typically requested on old or unusual properties, particularly if they have not been well maintained.

After the survey

If the property is “down-valued” following a Valuation Report, it is likely that the Buyer will try and renegotiate the price being paid.

If they do not have additional funds to make up the shortfall between the agreed price and valuation, they will have no choice but to renegotiate, otherwise they will have to withdraw from the purchase.

The seller is under no obligation to renegotiate so it comes down to how keen the buyer is to buy and how keen the seller is to sell. If both buyer and seller want to proceed, a compromise will usually have to be reached.

Sometimes a buyer will ask to renegotiate the price after receiving a Homebuyers Report or Building Survey. This may be just a half-hearted attempt to save some money based on relatively minor issues – and few properties are perfect!

In other cases the request to renegotiate might be justified. For example if a major issue is picked up on by a surveyor, that could not have reasonably been expected, such as subsidence on a relatively new property caused by inadequate foundations.

When it comes to renegotiating, what is fair is of course a matter of opinion.

If someone is buying an old property that has obviously not been modernised for many years then it can be expected, for example, that the property will need to be rewired. To have this highlighted on a survey and then use it to attempt to gain a price reduction is probably unreasonable.

Ultimately a degree of goodwill on both sides, allied to a mutual desire to buy and sell, should allow the transaction to proceed, rather than fall apart at this late stage.

Emotions can run high because even the slightest thing can add more stress at what for many is a difficult time, but remaining calm and being prepared to compromise are vital necessities.
 
 

By Richard Watters

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