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Homebuyer report explained

Buying a property? A homebuyer report – or survey – will tell you its true condition and how much you can expect to spend on repairs. It may also give you grounds to negotiate a better price. Here’s a guide to the surveys available, what they include and how much they cost.

Buying a property? A homebuyer report – or survey – will tell you its true condition and how much you can expect to spend on repairs. It may also give you grounds to negotiate a better price. Here’s a guide to the surveys available, what they include and how much they cost.

Written by
Alex Hasty
Insurance comparison and finance expert
Last Updated
4 min read
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What is a homebuyer report?

A homebuyer report, also known as a survey, provides an expert assessment of a property’s condition. You can choose from three types of survey, which offer varying levels of detail. 

The situation is different in Scotland where, in most cases, it’s the seller’s responsibility to provide buyers with a Home Report. This contains a survey and valuation, details of past repairs, alterations and extensions, and an energy performance certificate. These cost around £500, depending on the property.

Why should I get a homebuyer report?

A homebuyer report could save you significant amounts of money by giving you the evidence you need to negotiate a lower price. It could even make you think twice about buying the property at all.

It will also tell you what work – if any – you’ll need to carry out, and how much this is likely to cost. According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), surveys highlight problems like structural defects, as well as various types of rot and subsidence.

Types of homebuyer report

There are three levels of homebuyer report available:

RICS Home Condition Report (HCR)

This is the most basic survey and uses simple ‘traffic light’ ratings on key aspects of the property’s condition. It provides checks on services to the property, such as gas and water, and is best suited to conventional properties and newer homes.

You won’t receive any advice or a valuation, but the report will highlight any urgent defects or risks. An HCR costs roughly £400, depending on the size and condition of the property, and where you live.

RICS HomeBuyer Report (HBR) 

This is most suited to conventional properties that are in a reasonable condition. The report will highlight any issues affecting the property, advise on repairs and maintenance, and estimate how much it would cost to rebuild the property if it were destroyed. You should also get a valuation.

You can expect to pay anywhere between £400 and £1,000 for an HBR, so it’s worth shopping around.

RICS Building Survey 

Also known as a structural survey, this is the most comprehensive survey available and provides a detailed evaluation of a property’s condition. This level of survey is a good idea if you’re buying an older house. 

It uses a 1, 2 and 3 rating system to identify serious problems in need of attention and will tell you the consequences of failing to address them. It will also provide estimated costs of repairs. This type of survey costs anywhere between £800 and £1,500, depending on the value of the property. 

What is a mortgage valuation survey?

A mortgage valuation is for the lender to assess whether the property you’re buying is worth the asking price. The lender will need to carry out this survey to approve your mortgage. Based on the valuation, you may be able to go back to the seller or estate agent and offer a lower price. You’ll typically be recommended a surveyor from the mortgage lender’s approved panel.

Mortgage valuations are often confused with surveys, but the key difference is that they’re carried out on behalf of the mortgage lender. A homebuyer report, on the other hand, is carried out by a surveyor acting on your behalf. That means you’ll get impartial advice on the property you’re about to buy.

Some lenders offer mortgages with free valuation surveys. But if you have to pay, a valuation survey can cost from £115 to £1,500, depending on the property’s size and value. Again, it pays to shop around. 

How can I find a surveyor?

Your lender can usually recommend a qualified surveyor or solicitor, or estate agent. If you’re combining a mortgage valuation with a home survey, you’ll need to use a surveyor from the mortgage lender’s approved panel.

You can also find a surveyor through the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA).

RICS surveyors are closely regulated and must have professional indemnity insurance in place. That way you’re protected if the surveyor misses a fault that later becomes an issue.

The content written in this article is for information purposes only and should not be taken as financial advice. If you require support on the products discussed here, please speak to your bank/lender or seek the advice of an independent professional financial advisor. We also have more information on our Customer Support Hub.

Frequently asked questions

Is a homebuyer’s survey worth it?

Generally, yes. Skipping a survey can easily turn out to be a false economy, particularly if you’re buying an older property. A good survey will highlight any issues and let you know exactly what you’re getting into before you buy. 

Is a homebuyer’s report a legal requirement?

You’re not legally required to have a homebuyer’s survey, although most professionals would recommend it.

When should I do a homebuyer’s survey?

The best time to have a survey done is after you have an offer accepted on a property. If the survey reveals major problems, you can either negotiate a lower price or walk away. 

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Alex Hasty - Insurance comparison and finance expert

At Compare the Market, Alex has had roles as Commercial Associate Director, Director of Trading and Director of Growth. He’s currently responsible for the development and execution of Comparethemarket’s longer-term strategic options, ensuring the right breadth of products and services that meet customer needs.

Learn more about Alex

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