RICS advises homebuyers not to forget the survey


Fail to commission a sufficiently rigorous survey of your property before purchase and you could end up with repair bills in the thousands, according to new research from a surveyors’ organisation.

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) says that 25 per cent of homebuyers who settled for a mortgage valuation report had to make unplanned building works to their property after purchase.

It adds that, on average, the bill for these works came to £1,818 – but the cost can be much higher. Typical problems needing correction involved roofs and damp courses.

The organisation, which regulates the surveying profession, says surveys help buyers make informed decisions on whether to go ahead with buying a property, before legally committing themselves. But it is concerned that, despite their importance, many buyers remain confused about surveys.

A mortgage valuation report is described as “purely an indication of the property’s value for loan purposes, prepared for the lender, not the purchaser. Most importantly, it won’t uncover any potential problems.”

However the organisation says that, when questioned, 58 per cent of respondents wrongly believed a valuation report included the building’s condition, including searching for damp and structural movement.

A further 31 per cent mistakenly believed that it included advice on any legal issues a solicitor should investigate.

RICS recommends that buyers arrange a survey with their own surveyor. There are two options available; an RICS Homebuyer Report, which provides an inspection and report on the property’s condition, plus a valuation.

A building survey is more detailed, and may be the best option if the property is in a bad state of repair, has been significantly altered, or if you are planning a major conversion or renovation.

Also, 76 per cent of those questioned agreed that a more comprehensive survey could potentially allow you to negotiate a better deal with the seller.

David Dalby, RICS Residential Director, said: “In difficult economic times like this it makes sense to ensure you are getting the best possible value when purchasing a property.

“No one wants to find a nasty surprise down the line, or pay over the odds for a property that needs lots of work.

“A survey not only gives you a price valuation, but also a detailed report of the state of the property. Armed with this information you are in a much stronger position to decide whether to proceed with the purchase, or negotiate a better deal.”

The survey wasconducted for RICS by GfK NOP Business through 1,001 interviews conducted online during August 2010 with people who had bought a property in the last 12 months or were considering doing so in the next 12 months.

For more information on RICS, visit its website here >>

The RICS homebuyer survey checklist

  1. Ask an expert – a chartered surveyor will offer professional advice on the property. Before you commit yourself legally your surveyor will advise you on what is a reasonable price to pay for the property and flag any serious defects or risks.
  2. Spend a little to save a lot – By spending a small amount extra on a survey you could be saving yourself thousands. A HomeBuyer report costs on average £350 – arguably a small amount to help uncover any unpleasant or costly surprises. A building survey is more detailed and therefore more expensive.
  3. Use your survey to help negotiate a better deal – 76 per cent of those questioned agreed that a more comprehensive survey could potentially allow you to negotiate a better deal with the seller.