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First Time Buyers: Property Surveys Explained

Property Surveys Explained

It’s all busy, busy in the Dollface camp at the moment as we are finally settling into our new home!

Like I said in my last property post, I’ve been paying close attention to the whole home purchase process, ready to share with you my wealth of knowledge. (Side note: I’m not an expert, this whole thing has been so confusing!)

When we were getting ready to buy our new home we were told by our solicitors that we needed to get loads of surveys done, they threw the costs at us and I was so confused that I just let them get on with it. Although this made things easier for me at the time, when I looked into it afterwards, I realised I could have saved an awful lot of money if I had just taken the time to research about property surveys myself.

So you don’t make the same mistake as I did, here’s everything you need to know about property surveys!

What is a property survey?

A house survey helps you find out more about the property you’re about to buy. Not only does this mean there won’t be any nasty surprises when you move in, it also is a great back-up tool when it comes to negotiating the house price. Ideally, you want to get as many surveys done as possible before you are completely committed to avoid being stuck with a property that is going to cause you a lot of grief if you are not prepared for it.

Types of property survey

  • Mortgage Valuation Survey 

    • This isn’t actually a house survey and doesn’t let you know anything about the condition of the house, but it does check that the house is roughly worth the amount you are asking the mortgage company for.
    • The mortgage lender will carry this out, but you might have to pay for it
    • You will usually have to do this before your lender makes a formal mortgage offer

  • RICS Condition Report

    • This is a pretty basic property survey, but probably more than suitable if you’re buying a pretty new house 
    • It will give you an overview of the property’s condition using a traffic light system 
    • If there are any significant issues, they will be highlighted, but this report doesn’t go into a huge amount of detail

  • RICS HomeBuyer Report

    • This is more detailed than the condition report and can flag issues such as damp
    • You’ll get advice on repairs and maintenance as well as notification of anything that doesn’t meet current building regulations
    • It’s classed as a non-intrusive so the surveyor won’t look behind any furniture that’s in the way or under floorboards/behind walls etc

  • Building or full structural survey

    • This is the most in-depth property survey you can get and give you a full breakdown of the structure and condition of the house
    • Unlike the HomeBuyer Report, the surveyor will check under floorboards and in the attic etc
    • You’ll get a full list of all the defects, advice on repairs and you can also ask for projected costs of any repairs which will be useful when it comes to negotiating the cost of the property

  • New-build snagging survey

    • This survey is ideal for anyone buying a new build property
    • It will pick out any defects from small issues right up to structural problems and this can be given to the developer before you move in so you can get any problems sorted before your two-year warranty runs out

Property survey costs

Just like your car insurance, you can compare costs of property surveys to make sure you get the best deals, but to give you a rough idea, here are the typical costs:

  • Mortgage valuation survey - £150-£1500
  • RICS Condition Report – around £250
  • RICS HomeBuyer Report – from £400
  • Building or full structural survey – from £600
  • New-build snagging survey – from £300

What to do if your survey uncovers and problems

First of all, you should find out if you have any guarantee, and whether these problems will be covered under that.

Ideally, you want to ask the surveyor for any advice (if it’s not already in your report). They will be able to tell you rough repair costs, whether there will be any major implications etc. If there are significant issues, you should get a quote from a builder to determine costs.

Use this information to negotiate with the seller to either reduce the house price or ensure they are sorted before you move in. If the surveys flag up more work than you are prepared to take on with your new property, as long as you have the surveys done in good time, it gives you the opportunity to walk away and find a better suited home.

Hopefully this information is helpful for you guys, I’d love to know what you think about my first time buyer post series, and if you have any helpful tips then please let me know in the comments!

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