What is a Property Survey?

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What is a Property Survey?

A property survey examines the structure and condition of a building, and is likely to suggest work or repairs that are needed. It is about the ‘bricks and mortar’, NOT the legal status of a property.

What sort of property survey do I need is a question we ask when buying a house.  The house we live in is the most significant financial investment most of us will make.  Despite this, many choose to buy ‘blindly’ by not having a conveyancing survey done before we commit to the purchase of our home.

Here, we explain what a property survey is, and house it differs from a homebuyers survey, and a mortgage valuation.

What is a Property Survey?

A property survey will tell you everything you need to know about the fabric of the building you are buying.  It can:-

  • be a useful tool for negotiating a price reduction if repairs are needed
  • identify defects, and the costs associated to resolving them
  • give you peace of mind (if everything is in order!)

There are different types of survey reports, and you should go with the one that suits you.  When you engage the services of a surveyor, they will explain the different types of surveys on offer (usually the level of detail the report goes into).

What types of Property Survey are there?

The general phrases of conveyancing survey or house surveys are often used to describe 3 house survey types.  They are:-

  • Property Survey – a full in-depth survey report on all aspects of the home you are buying
  • Homebuyers Survey – also known as a homebuyers report, this is a simplified version of the full property survey
  • Mortgage Valuation – this is paid for by your mortgage lender and simply seeks to establish the value of the property

What is a full Building Survey – known as a Property Survey?

Rather confusingly, this type of home survey shares its name with the generic idea of all surveys (of which there are three – see above).  This type of house survey is the warts and all report on the whole property you are buying.  It should reveal all unseen problems.  This home report tends to be more expensive than the homebuyers report as it is more detailed.  Buyers choose a full survey if the property is old, listed, has unusual construction and has lots of alterations.  The survey itself will not give a valuation of the property – this will cost extra!

Your surveyor may recommend further specialist surveys to be carried out (i.e damp, timber, drainage, electrical).

What is a Homebuyers Report?

This type of conveyancing survey gives you a less detailed report to a full property survey.  They are endorsed by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).  Buyers tend to choose a homebuyers report over a full property survey if the house is generally in good condition and built within the last 150 years.  It highlights defects and problems which are in need of urgent repair that can affect the value of the property.

Property surveys vary from a simple valuation, to a detailed report

Your property survey can vary from a simple valuation, to a detailed report.

Is a Mortgage Valuation the same as a Property Survey?

Most of us buy a property with the assistance of a secured loan, or ‘mortgage’.  The lender will insist on valuing the property, and invariably it is the buyer that pays for that! Do shop around and get quotes from various surveyors. They will generally offer a fixed fee. Also, the valuation is generally carried out by a surveyor.

But, beware – this is not a survey!  It is solely for the benefit of the lender, to satisfy them that the bricks and mortar are worth (in financial terms) the price being paid.  This is to ensure that they could sell it if needed (if the borrower defaulted on their mortgage payments), and get their money back.

Buyers often, and wrongly assume that, because they’re having a bank valuation there is no need to have a survey.  Wrong!  They’re two completely different things.

When should a home Survey be done?

You should have your survey done before you have exchanged contracts.  This is so that you know everything you need to about the bricks and mortar of the building before you have committed to buying it!  Do one after exchange and you are committed to buying come what may.

Who pays for the house Survey when buying a house?

The homebuyer will generally pay for both the full property survey (aka building survey), and also the homebuyers report.  These reports are to help you understand what it is you are buying.

The mortgage valuation is a very simple report for the benefit of your mortgage lender to reassure them that the money they are lending you is covered by the value of the house/home.  Quite often therefore, the cost of this will be met by the building society/bank/mortgage lender.  This will be dependent on the particular lender, and/or the particular mortgage product you have chosen.

Conveyancing Quote

Moving home?  Looking for a conveyancing solicitor?  Get an instant online quote with our fee calculator.  It breaks everything down for you including the professional fee, plus disbursements – such as Searches; Stamp Duty; and Land Registry fees

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