The decision to buy new property is an important one. It’s an exciting process, to be sure, as many people finally see a dream come true – but it should be handled with care, as there are some possible (potentially serious) risks. It’s a pity, then, that only 1 out of 5 buyers in the UK actually have a professional survey of the house done before agreeing to purchase it.
Your mortgage lender will probably insist that a mortgage valuation be conducted – this is part of the lender’s process of due diligence, ensuring that their investment in you and the loan makes financial sense. But for the buyer, this is insufficient. Here’s how to determine the right type of property survey from which you can really benefit.
The mortgage valuation
The mortgage valuation is not a proper survey. It’s simply a process in which an evaluator walks through the property and takes a quick look around, after which a report is made that mentions an estimate of the value of the property. Only if major work needs to be done will potential repairs be mentioned.
What’s a survey?
A survey is much more detailed. The surveyor will take a longer time inspecting the property, checking for structural integrity and potential issues, noting down repairs or alterations that have been made or need to be arranged, and listing professional commentary about the condition (and type) of materials, walls, electrical wiring, roofing, and so on.
Types of surveys
There are different kind of surveys – and here and the main ones:
- The condition report. This is the most basic, and is designed to complement the mortgage valuation. It provides a ‘traffic light’ rating and lists down potential risks.
- The homebuyers’ report. This kind of survey goes into much more detail and will list down problems such as rot, subsidence, and so on. It is still not very thorough, as the surveyor will not move furniture or drill holes to do a full inspection.
- The home condition survey. This kind of survey is conducted by several experts who examine the property in more detail and give an extensive report.
- The structural survey. The most thorough, with a detailed report of findings and recommendations.
Of course, the quality of the survey and the report will largely depend on the conscientiousness of the surveyor; it’s important to find the right one so you get good value for your money. Make a short-list of different potential surveyors and do some background research – check their credentials, their reviews, and ask family and friends for possible recommendations. Be present during the survey, and never be shy to ask questions. It might be your future home, and you should understand everything.