House surveys explained
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The property survey is an important stage of selling a house. When selling your home, it’s wise to understand the different types of survey available so you’re fully prepared when a potential buyer pays for a surveyor to inspect your home.
A survey is a report that helps a potential buyer find out about the condition of a property and any problems within it. It also gives the buyer the opportunity to negotiate the buying price down or ask you, as the seller, to fix the problems before they agree to move in.
There are different types of surveys in England and Wales. The type of survey that will be conducted on your property depends on what the potential buyer is asking for. For information about property surveys in Scotland (where the process differs slightly), visit our blog post.
There are three main levels of surveys, which can be carried out. These are:
- Condition report
- HomeBuyer’s report
- Building survey
A condition report is the cheapest survey, while the Building survey is the most expensive inspection a buyer can pay to have done. While the HomeBuyer’s report tends to be the most popular assessment, there are no rules about what survey a potential buyer should get.
Most surveyors are registered with The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). It’s worth knowing that some surveyors are also registered with the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA), an alternative to RICS. RPSA surveyors use a different type of survey, called the ‘SAVA home condition survey’, which is very similar to the RICS HomeBuyer’s Report.
This is the most basic type of survey. It gives a potential buyer a basic overview of your property and its value. If you own a modern property that you’ve looked after and is well maintained, your potential buyer may request this survey.
- Gives a basic overview of a property’s condition, and can be conducted quickly
- Highlights issues needing immediate attention, such as defects in the building’s fabric – the wall, floor, or roof – without going into specific detail
- Doesn’t go into any significant detail – a surveyor will inspect the visible infrastructure for electricity, gas and water, but not test it
- Inspection will be conducted from ground level, such as checking the chimney from the garden, not the roof.
This is a more detailed survey, without being intrusive. It allows the buyer to know about the problems of your property at a surface level. If your house is a modern or older property, but still kept in reasonable condition, your potential buyer could request this survey.
- Is a detailed, but not an intrusive assessment of your property
- Highlights surface-level problems, such as damp or subsidence
- Involves the surveyor looking for visible issues, without moving the furniture or lifting the floorboards. Your cellars and attic space will also be inspected if you have them
- Can take two to four hours to complete.
This is the most thorough and tailored type of survey. It aims to give the buyer a comprehensive breakdown of your property’s structure and condition. If your house is older or looks like it might be in poor condition, your buyer may request this survey.
- Will give a very thorough and detailed report of your property
- Lists defects and look for hidden problems
- Involves the surveyor using a hands-on process to conduct a full investigation, such as moving furniture and lifting floorboards
- Can take a day to complete, depending on the size of your property.
Being prepared for a surveyor
When a potential buyer shows interest in purchasing the house you’re selling, it’s advisable to be prepared for any of these surveys to be conducted. It’s also wise to make sure you are available for when the surveyor plans to come and visit.
If you know of any problems in your property it’s often beneficial to get them fixed before you put your house on the market. Otherwise, consider being honest and upfront about the problems with your potential buyer from the start, especially if you’re looking to make a quick house sale.
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