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Homebuyer report explained

Getting a homebuyer report will give you an idea of the true condition of a property you’re planning to buy and how much you might need to spend on repairs. It can also give you ammunition to use in negotiations with the seller. This guide will outline what surveys are available, what each one includes and how much they cost.

Tobi Owens From the Mortgages team
minute read

What is a homebuyer report?

A homebuyer report, also known as a home survey, will give you expert advice on the condition of a property. You can choose from three levels of survey, which vary in the level of detail provided.

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

Why should I get a homebuyer report?

A homebuyer report could save you a substantial amount of money by providing you with evidence to negotiate a reduction on the property’s asking price. It could even make you think twice about buying the property at all.

It will also give you an idea of what work, if any, will need to be undertaken in the future, and how much it’s likely to cost. Potential problems that could be found, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), include structural defects, various types of rot and subsidence.

Types of homebuyer report

A homebuyer report will be carried out by a surveyor. 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 details 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. No advice or valuation is provided, but the report will highlight any urgent defects or risks. A HCR costs from £250, on average.

RICS HomeBuyer Report (HBR) This is most suited to conventional properties that are in a reasonable condition. The report will highlight problems affecting the property, give advice on repairs and maintenance, plus an estimate of what it would cost to rebuild the property if it were completely destroyed.

You can opt for a report only, or a report and market valuation. An HBR costs from £400, on average, with the market valuation costing another £100 or so.

RICS Building Survey (also known as a Structural Survey) 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 any serious problems in need of attention, and will provide estimated costs of any repairs, outlining the consequence of failing to address them. This type of survey starts at around £500.

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, before they approve your mortgage. Based on the lender’s valuation, you may be able to go back to the seller or estate agent and potentially offer a lower price. You’ll typically be recommended a surveyor from the mortgage lender’s approved panel.

Commonly confused for a home survey, a mortgage valuation survey is a valuation carried out on the mortgage lender’s behalf. A homebuyer report, on the other hand, is conducted by a surveyor acting solely on your behalf - and therefore offers impartial advice on the property you’re looking to buy.

Some lenders offer mortgages with free valuation surveys, but if you have to pay, a valuation survey can cost from £150 to £1,500, depending on the size and value of the property.

How can I find a surveyor?

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

You should be able to find a surveyor on Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA).

RICS surveyors are closely regulated and are required to have professional indemnity insurance, which helps to protect buyers if the surveyor fails to detect a fault that later becomes an issue.

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