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Understanding surveys when buying a property

Posted on October 22, 2021 at 3:09 PM


So you have had your offer accepted on the home of your dreams but now you need to decide how much background information you want as to how well your future home has been maintained in the past and what it might cost you to put anything right. Even if your budget is a little tight, you might want to get a survey done to highlight any possible issues going forward. However not all surveys are the same and the type you need can be influenced by the type of property you are buying and its location.

There are three main types of survey so we will try and demystify the jargon a little further now for you.

Valuation Survey
Many people think that a mortgage company’s valuation is a complete survey – in truth it is just a valuation carried out on behalf of the lender to ensure the property is worth what you have offered to pay for it to ensure they are protected within the level of funds they are lending to you. Sometimes a lender will do a “desktop” valuation which is based on information they can access on the recent sale prices of similar properties nearby; they could also do a “driveby” valuation where the surveyor will just take a look from the outside, or more than likely, they will require access to the property to look at it in more detail. This will not assess any structural issues and is only for the benefit of the mortgage lender, and sometimes, as the buyer, you won’t even see the information.

Homebuyer Report
The homebuyer’s report is the next level up from the basic valuation survey. It will provide a market valuation of the property and estimate the rebuild cost for insurance purposes. It will inform the you on the soundness and safety of the property. The report will specify any particular defects in the property, and it is usually quite a concise report. The survey covers all accessible parts of the property that you need to know about (but will not advise on the electrical and, if applicable, gas installation aspects), however it is less comprehensive than a building survey. It should be adequate though for all properties built within the last 50 years. The cost for this is usually in the region of £300-500.

Structural Survey
This is the bee’s knees of the three types of survey. It is the most expensive and is usually required when a full assessment of the property is required. If you are worried about the structure of the building or if you are buying a period property, this is the survey for you. This type of survey will root out any problems with the property’s integrity and will include information on any defects, repairs or maintenance issues, going beyond a homebuyer’s report to check behind walls and below floorboards. Additionally, it provides detailed recommendations for repairs and informs you of timings and approximate costings for these repairs. It also forecasts what is likely to happen if the suggested repairs aren’t carried out. It can also be helpful of you are planning to carry out any major work to the property you are buying. Expect to pay around £1,000 for a survey of this kind.

We hope this helps you work out what you need but please feel free to contact us on 01904 707181 should you need to discuss this any further.

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Understanding surveys when buying a property


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