Knowing the best home survey options for your clients

As the modern mortgage market continues to evolve, so too does the complexity attached to product offerings, criteria, lending policy, affordability and accessibility.

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Matthew Cumber | Countrywide Surveying Services
23rd September 2021
Matthew Cumber Countrywide
"It can sometimes be easy to overlook the value attached to these basics when faced with such an array of challenges."

I could go on but I’m sure you all have your own lists. Whilst consumers are becoming increasingly savvy when it comes to doing their research, collating information and educating themselves on certain elements of the homebuying process, the truth is that this remains a highly daunting transaction for many. Especially when it comes to mortgages.

This is why the value attached to mortgage advice continues to rise. Despite the increased complexity for advisers when it comes to sourcing and securing the right product type, many borrowers are simply looking for reassurance and the simplest nuggets of information can often prove to be the most valuable from a consumer perspective.

As a surveyor, the most commonly asked question we receive from potential homebuyers is – what type of survey should we get? I’m sure this is an equally common occurrence for advisers.

So let’s just take a moment to remind ourselves of the options available to clients.

The different types of home survey reports

The RICS Home Survey Level 1 report is based on a visual inspection less comprehensive than the other two reports and more suitable for conventional properties in reasonable condition. It offers a summary of risks to the building, people and groups and an assessment of the relative importance of the defects.

Here at Countrywide Surveying Services, we have our own RICS Level 1 equivalent report titled the HomeFact Report, which describes our opinion of the visible condition and state of repair of the property and includes some extra features such as helping you decide whether you need extra advice before committing to purchase, general guidance for major repairs and general on- going maintenance tips.

The RICS Home Survey Level 2 report, previously known as an RICS HomeBuyer Report, gives a more detailed overview of the condition of the property, includes a more extensive visual inspection, and identifies problems the surveyor considers may affect the value of the property. Although no tests are taken, the report objectively describes the condition of the different elements of the property and provides an assessment of the relative importance of the defects/problems.

The last, and arguably the most comprehensive survey is the RICS Home Survey Level 3, or otherwise known as a Building Survey. This survey is a detailed visual inspection of the building, its services and the grounds, giving extensive information about the structure and fabric of the property. It will provide advice on repairs and maintenance and is a wise choice if you’re buying a doer-upper, a listed building or if you are planning to do extensive work to the property.

A home survey delivered by a qualified surveyor provides vital information that can be invaluable during price negotiations, and will also highlight any serious problems, offer advice on any specific risks and help your clients avoid expensive surprises after they’ve moved in. In terms of cost, clients should expect to pay somewhere in the region of £500 for an RICS Home Survey Level 2 and £1,000 for a Level 3, depending upon the purchase price.

From speaking with intermediaries who have been under such time pressure in recent times, it can sometimes be easy to overlook the value attached to these basics when faced with such an array of challenges. Surveyors are here to support advisers and buyers through this increasingly complex process and by working together we can help bridge any knowledge gap to ensure that clients have full access to as much upfront information as possible.

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