Our guide to property surveys

If you’re considering ambitious structural renovations, a grand design of your own, or if you just need a valuation for your building society or bank, we would always recommend completing a survey. Why? Well, surveys offer homebuyers numerous benefits. They can help avoid unexpected and expensive surprises and offer peace of mind about the potential flaws of a property. A survey can be very reassuring, especially for those taking their first steps onto the property ladder.

The findings from a survey can also influence your decision to buy or give you room to negotiate on price. A property might simply have too much work that needs doing, but negotiating the price down according to the costs quoted in the survey can mean the property may still be a viable option.

They are also often a lender requirement, as a survey is often a condition of the mortgage. Mortgage providers will also do a survey, but this is not for the borrower, who will be advised to carry out their own survey. We can recommend a trust solicitor to help you with your move.

Homebuyer surveys

This is the most popular survey, and is suited to most standard properties. Often these reports will have a traffic light system of red, amber or green points, some of which may need addressing before the property purchase goes through. We can recommend trusted surveyors, who write their home buyer surveys in plain English, so no fancy surveyor terms that you don’t understand. A pretty standard choice of survey, and a popular one, these surveys will highlight anything on the surface that could be deemed to be a problem and give am insight into the condition of the property.

Building surveys

These surveys are recommended for older or larger properties which might be more structurally complex. In buildings like this, it is often wishful thinking to not anticipate an issue that will require attention. A building survey will indicate what requires urgent work and will advise on what works are recommended in short, medium or long term. The main benefits of a building survey is that it is significantly more in depth than a homebuyers survey, and will flag up any issues that will be expensive to fix before the exchange, meaning you have suitable grounds to ask the seller to reduce the asking price by the cost of work needed.

Specific defects reports

This kind of report would be recommended if there was a specific issue, such as structural movement or damp. Not just for buyers, this survey can be undertaken by existing home owners who require a detailed analysis of what is causing a problem and where the affected areas are.

Seller surveys

Seller surveys are anticipatory surveys undertaken by the seller which are prepared before marketing and shown to buyers.

While you might not want to spend money on a house that you’re planning to sell, there are lots of advantages to completing a survey pre-sale. For example, knowing the exact condition of the property can be reflected in the asking price. Knowing the condition of the property will ensure that there are no nasty last minute surprises for the buyer, and therefore, no nasty surprises for you, reducing the chances of last minute renegotiations or fall through costs for either party. It could also speed up the overall selling process get your home sold sooner.

Specialist reports

Surveyors sometimes recommend further investigation or advise you to determine the price of a repair before buying. This could be from drain scans through to engineers and damp reports.

Why a survey helps you buy:

Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to house buying. Having a survey completed on a house means that you are more in-the-know about what you will be buying. If you’re dreaming of knocking down walls to create an open plan space, a survey will identify which walls are load bearing and therefore can tell you if your plans for the property are a possibility. Moving means a mortgage, and a mortgage means money is often tight around a house move. Having last minute, unexpected problems emerge post completion date will mean more strain on your pockets. It will make budgeting easier. Knowing what you will need to spend on a property, and how much you have left over, will make it easier for you to budget for other things, like new furniture and fittings. It pays to have an expert opinion. You might have viewed the house once, or a hundred times while making your decisions to buy. But problems might not be obvious at a glance.

When doing a survey, the surveyors are free to look around without disruption. While heart often wins out over head when house buying, sometimes it’s beneficial to be told straight. If a property requires more work than your budget will allow, or is in particularly poor condition, then some tough love might be necessary.It’s often a condition of a mortgage. No mortgage usually means no house, so fulfilling the terms of your mortgage is crucial if you want to secure a new home.

Why a survey helps you sell:

  • Forewarned is forearmed. Knowing the ins and outs of your homes positive and negative points means you can invest in the right places to make your home more saleable.
  • Knowing your worth. Without knowing the condition of your property, you might not know the correct value of your property. Having the true value of your property will be useful if property buyers try to haggle you down. Reversing this, if you over estimate how much your house is worth then it will sit on the market for an extended period of time.
  • A pre-sale survey can have huge benefits to saleability. Knowing what needs doing and in turn, letting the buyer know will speed up the overall process of selling your home

Why a survey is useful even after you’ve moved in:

  • Often you won’t get round to tackling repairs or improvements for months, or even years, after settling into your new home. A survey can offer you advice on where to start with repairs or improvements.
  • Valuations for probate, tax or matrimonial reasons. If a family member is deceased and has left a property in their will, our valuers will ensure that a fair price is reached subject to the condition of the property and the market.
  • Advice on Lease Enfranchisement/Lease Extensions. Any leasee of a house has the right to acquire the freehold or extend the lease of their property under the Leasehold Reform Act 1967.

Unsure which survey would be best suited to you? Talk to our experts and find your nearest branch.

Striving to create perfection in an ever growing collection of beautiful properties.

sign David Westgate, Group Chief Executive
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