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This is a question that we get asked on a regular basis when we’re completing the legal process of buying a house for someone.  We know that the answer that you want us to give is ‘no’ and that it would save you money if we were to say ‘you should be fine with your mortgage provider’s valuation survey’, but we wouldn’t be fulfilling our duty of care if we didn’t recommend that you go ahead with surveys.

We don’t benefit from you undertaking surveys – if anything, they can hold us up whilst we wait for them to be done, but the consequences of you not carrying our surveys on your property can far outweigh the benefits of rushing your purchase through.

What is the point in a property survey?

A property survey will show whether there are any issues with the property before you buy it.  This can include information about the condition of a property; for example, whether there are any structural or building issues such as subsidence, or any hidden flaws such as woodworm.

With a property survey, you will also be given an overview of how much it would cost to repair these issues, which is very useful to know before you’ve completed on a house purchase, in case you’re able to amend your purchase price to reflect any issues.

What’s the difference between a survey and a valuation?

A valuation will usually be carried out by your mortgage provider’s choice of surveyor, who will report back to the mortgage provider to confirm whether the property is worth the purchase price or not.  This is done for the benefit of the mortgage provider, so that they can either give the go ahead to your mortgage application, or not.

A survey will be carried out with the new owners in mind, which means that recommendations about items that will need to be fixed or updated and timeframes in which these things are likely to need to be done, are usually included.  For example, if there is a nearby tree whose roots put the property at risk of subsidence, but is not an immediate cause for concern, this would be included as a minor risk to take into future consideration.

What types of surveys are there?

Condition report

This report focuses on the state of repair that the property is in and will highlight any areas that need attention.  It does not necessarily provide any information about how to repair areas that require attention.

Cost: Usually around £300.

Homebuyers report

This report gives a more in-depth valuation of the property and goes into more detail with defects or risk factors that could affect the value of the property now and in the future.  The downside to this survey is that if there are more serious concerns, a surveyor can simply recommend that further recommendations take place.

Cost: Usually around £500.

Building survey

This type of survey is the most comprehensive option when having a survey carried out on a property.  It will look into the condition of the property as well as its structure.  Information about hidden and visible defects will be included and advice provided about options for repairing these.  The only downside to this type of survey is that advice can be quite technical, so if you’re paying for one of these, it’s worthwhile being in the property when the surveyor conducts the survey so that you can ask them to explain certain aspects of the report if you’re unsure what they mean.

Cost: Usually around £1,000.

What happens if you don’t get a survey when buying a house?

Research conducted by Churchill shows that only 14% of people who bought a property over the preceding 20 years invested in a survey.  Everyone else relied on the mortgage valuation.

At the end of the day, ensuring that the property is in a good state of repair to prevent you having to pay large sums of money to repair it once you’re the owner, is your responsibility.  Examples in the media where people have taken the risk and chosen not to have a survey carried out on their property include a £30,000 bill for a property that was found to have dry rot (after the new owners had moved in) and in another case, a bill for over £160,000 for a property that had significant subsidence.

Advice about the process of buying a house

At Bray & Bray our residential property team are experts in the entire process of buying a property.  Our lawyers work on your property purchase from the start to the finish, so we know exactly what is happening at any point in the purchase process.  To speak to a member of the team today, call us using the contact details below: