Upon securing a property and proceeding towards a purchase the next step, once your offer has been formally accepted and solicitors are informed, should be to instruct a professional, independent surveyor.
Surveyors reports can be unnecessarily alarming, the wording complex and the recommendations confusing for those who don’t have industry experience. Here we discuss which type of survey is best for your property purchase and share our tips for when you receive your surveyors report.
Types of property surveys
We recommend all our clients to have a full buildings survey carried out, even on properties that may have been recently renovated. Unless you are qualified you will not know what to watch out for, just because the kitchen looks brand new doesn’t mean it’s been installed perfectly and it’s far better to find anything out in advance of committing large amounts of money to the purchase.
Most surveyors offer three types of survey; a Building Survey, a Home Buyers Report and a Condition Survey.
What is a Building Survey?
A Building Survey, which is also sometimes referred to as a Structural Survey, is the most thorough report to have completed prior to purchasing a property.
Without damaging the property this type of survey leaves no stone unturned, sofas will be moved where necessary, every door will be opened and a torch shone into each nook and cranny of a house.
The surveyor will report on all defects and potential problems, provide estimates for works they’d recommend completing and an idea of the consequences should improvements not be made. These reports can often include lots of images to demonstrate what they’re referring to.
Whilst we recommend all our clients have a Building Survey carried out, it is particularly important if you’re buying an older property or planning to do work to a property.
Getting a Home Buyers Survey
A Home Buyers Survey is what most mainstream buyers choose and is often added onto the mortgage valuation survey, although we’d always recommend you hire a surveyor independent of the one carrying out the bank’s valuation.
This type if survey will highlight if there is damp or subsidence apparent at the property. It will also detail anything that doesn’t comply with current building regulations and offer advice on repairs and ongoing maintenance to be aware of.
A Home Buyers Report will include a market valuation and rebuild cost. As a minimum we would advise our clients instruct for an independent surveyor to conduct a Home Buyers Report in advance of proceeding with a purchase.
New Build Survey
In the instance that you are purchasing a newly built property that will typically come with a 10-year NHBC guarantee then you might decide to instruct a Snagging Survey.
Whilst a property might look shiny and new it can prove very useful to have an independent surveyor draw up a list of snagging points for the developer to address before you move in.
It’s important not to confuse the Mortgage Valuation Survey with any of the other surveys.
Despite the fact that you’ll likely have to pay for the mortgage valuation, it is carried out on the behalf of the lender to assure them that the property you’re buying is worth the agreed price.
If the mortgage survey returns with a down valuation you have a few options with regard to how to proceed. Typically you can take one of two approaches; dispute the valuation with the lender, renegotiate the purchase price to match the figure the lender is happy to lend on.
If you’re confident that the price given in the mortgage valuation is unfair, perhaps you’ve had an independent surveyor give you a different figure within your home buyers survey or building survey, then you can challenge the lenders valuation.
You may need to share the independent report with them and even supply comparable evidence of properties in the area that have recently sold for a price nearer to the one you’ve agreed.
If you feel it is a fair down valuation and agree with the new figure you can approach the selling agent and vendor to renegotiate the price.
Understanding a surveyors report
With older homes a surveyors report almost always finds some issues, newer and renovated properties might have less for concern but will typically also have a few points of note.
It can be a shock if the property you’d like to buy has recently been renovated and something comes up that might seem costly – where it is reasonable issues raised by the surveyor are cause for renegotiation of the purchase price.
You may have to obtain quotes from external parties, usually 2 or 3 to gain a true idea of cost and be able to put it forward to the vendor and their agent when you’re hoping to reduce the purchase price.
At this stage don’t be surprised if you run into difficulties, vendors can be unwilling to reduce their selling price – you can walk away from the purchase at this point safe in the knowledge that you have saved yourself many thousands of pounds.
Remember if you have a question regarding your survey you can ask the surveyor to clarify, it might be most effective to detail all queries in one email listing the page and section to enable to surveyor to answer more quickly.
We would recommend you share a copy of your survey report with your solicitor – they’ll know what to look out for and can raise requests for any warranties that might be in place or similar documentation relevant to legal proceedings.
Your surveyor might recommend that a specialist survey or inspection is carried out based on their findings. Factors that usually require an area specialist are potential damp, issues with the roof, electrical installation, gas and heating and in some cases they might recommend the services of a structural engineer.
Don’t be alarmed by the recommendation for a specialist, a surveyors job is to be thorough, it doesn’t automatically mean that the wiring is faulty, the property is riddled with damp or about to collapse – it simply means they’re unsure and believe it would be wise to investigate a certain area.
Purchasing property in the UK
As property finders with many years’ experience we have read all types of surveyors reports, we understand that sometimes the findings can be disheartening, taking a pragmatic approach is sensible.
Asking the right questions prior to agreeing to proceed on a purchase can also avoid any nasty surprises further down the line.
If you’d like advice and guidance on your property purchase our team of experts can help, to find out more about our services please contact us.