The benefits of a survey when buying a house
Tue 21 Mar 2023
We have seen an increase in requests for surveys where a buyer is concerned that an expert hasn’t even set foot in the property, never mind given it a full ‘health check.’"
Leo Marshall, Chartered Surveyor and Valuer - RICS, Lincoln.
It's one of the big gambles when buying a house, especially an older one. Are those cracks subsidence? Is the roof sound? And if the mortgage valuation says it's all ok, do you need to worry?
Incredibly, according to RICS, the majority of people are prepared to take those risks - with only around 20% of housebuyers taking out their own private surveys.
It's not a legal requirement but if you don't need a mortgage, taking out your own survey is the only way you can properly check a property doesn't have any serious structural issues lurking.
If you do need a mortgage, the lender's offer will be on condition of a valuation - so it's your choice whether you decide to spend more on an in-depth examination in the form of a survey.
The benefits of a survey
Problems that you can be unaware of when buying a property range from damp or rot to a leaky roof or even subsidence. Knowing ahead of underlying issues means you can take an informed decision on whether you want to proceed with the sale or negotiate on price.
Leo Marshall, a Chartered Surveyor and Valuer - RICS, based in our Lincoln office, said: "At a time where many mortgage providers choose not to carry out actual physical inspections, instead relying on automated or remote valuations, we have seen an increase in requests for surveys.
"Buyers are concerned that an expert hasn’t even set foot in the property, never mind given it a full ‘health check.’
"In a world where everything is costing more, the price of a survey has remained relatively unchanged, arguably providing even better value for money and peace of mind.
"Spending several hundred pounds on a survey regularly saves our customers thousands by avoiding large repair bills or giving a reason to renegotiate the agreed sale price based on our findings.
"With the benefits regularly outweighing the cost involved, a survey should be a serious consideration as part of your home buying journey."
Which survey is best for you?
RICS Level Two Home Survey with Valuation (Homebuyer Report)
Suitable for residential properties of standard construction, not significantly altered or extended and built after 1850.
Describes the condition and provides an assessment of the relative importance of the defects/problems. Offers advice about repairs and any ongoing maintenance issues.
As part of the Valuation, the Surveyor will give an opinion on both the market value of the property and the reinstatement costs at the time of the inspection.
RICS Level Three Home Survey (Building Survey)
This level of survey is suitable for all residential property but is especially suited to older properties, those that have been significantly extended or altered or in poor condition.
This service is more extensive than a Level Two. The report describes the construction and materials used, the condition and provides an assessment of the relative importance of the defects/problems. Also it provides the probable causes and gives an opinion of the remedial works required.
What can happen if you don't take a survey?
Steve Willerton, Chartered Surveyor and Valuer - FRICS, a Fellow of RICS, who also holds a qualification to act as an Expert Surveyor (APAEWE,) based in our Bury St Edmunds office, said: "If a purchaser does not have a survey and they subsequently discover major defects, they have no basis for a claim other than if the defect is subsidence or settlement related and then they may be able to claim under their Buildings Insurance Policy, however this is not guaranteed.
"It's also a misconception that purchasers don't need an independent survey if they are buying a new property or one which comes with the benefit of a warranty backed by bodies such as the NHBC, National House Building Council.
"We would always recommend some further investigation by a qualified surveyor as we regularly come across defects with new builds.
"A RICS Level Two Home Survey with a Valuation (Homebuyer Report) gives you peace of mind on a traditionally built modern property as well as houses built pre, during and post wars which have not been extensively extended or altered.
"If the property is of unusual design, has been altered or extended significantly or built before 1850, then we would recommend a RICS Level Three Home Survey (Building Survey.)
"We advise people to always use a RICS accredited Chartered Surveyor - like myself and colleagues working across offices here at Brown&Co. This ensures you receive the unbiased expertise of a certified professional and the guarantee of the RICS strict codes of conduct which regulate the body.
"RICS Chartered Surveyors also have to be covered by professional indemnity insurance which provides a further layer of reassurance and protection."
For more information, please contact Leo Marshall in our Lincoln office on 01522 457187 or Steve Willerton in our Bury St Edmunds office on 01284 731455.
We have RICS Chartered Surveyors and Valuers across our offices so to locate the right one for you, please contact our Norwich office on 01603 629871 or see here.
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