Buying a home can be one of the most notable investments you can make in your lifetime. With such a large commitment, there are a number of steps and checks you’ll need to complete before your property purchase is legally binding. Surveying a house before buying is a crucial part of the process. This is because it’s an opportunity to assess your potential property and find out if there are any repairs needed or more serious issues that may affect your decision to buy.
Want to understand more about property surveys, how they can save you from unplanned costs, and when one should be carried out? We’re here to help. Read on for everything you need to know about getting a property survey when buying a home.
A property survey is a detailed inspection of a property's condition and structure. It aims to identify any problems or defects in the property that may not be visible to the naked eye. The survey will provide a report on the property's condition and highlight any necessary repairs or maintenance work required.
There are different types of property surveys that you can choose from depending on the level of detail you require. The most common types of property surveys in the UK are:
Condition Report: This is the most basic type of survey and is suitable for newer properties or properties that are in good condition. It’s a visual inspection that highlights any potential repairs needed or further issues that may affect the value of the property.
Homebuyer Report: This survey provides a more detailed analysis of the property's condition. It includes a property valuation and identifies any significant defects or concerns that may affect this value.
Building Survey: This is the most detailed type of survey and is suitable for older properties or properties that require significant renovations. It entails a comprehensive analysis of the property's condition and structure, flagging any outstanding problems or defects that may require immediate attention.
A property survey when buying a home is essential as it gives a more detailed picture of the property beyond what you've seen when going to a viewing. If a house needs repairs or has more serious structural defects or other undiscovered problems, such as damp, asbestos or roof issues, this will be identified in the survey. Once a report has been made, buyers will be able to factor in any necessary repairs and maintenance work into their budget. This sets realistic expectations and prevents any unexpected costs or the need for emergency renovations later down the line.
It’s recommended that you get a property survey as early as possible in the home-buying process. This allows enough time to review the survey results and make an informed decision on whether to proceed with the purchase or renegotiate the price.
There are a few steps to take if you’ve uncovered defects in the potential property.
Take time to go through and understand the results: A surveyor can be especially helpful in doing this as they’ll be familiar with similar properties and can give expert advice on what to do with the information you’ve received.
Find out the cost of any repairs: If there are some fixes needed, this can be quite normal for older properties. Seek out a tradesperson - someone impartial and not recommended by the seller or estate agent - and get some accurate pricing on the cost of carrying out the work. This will help you decide if you have the budget to carry out the work and if you feel the property is going to be worth buying with this initial cost.
See if you can negotiate with the seller: Depending on the issues uncovered, you may have grounds to ask for the house price to be adjusted lower, with the money saved going towards paying for the repairs. You may even be able to ask the seller to commit to fixing some or all of the issues highlighted in the survey. If they’re keen to make a sale, they may agree to do this. If this is the case, then ensure your solicitor puts this requirement in your contract and make sure you speak to the selected contractors selected to get evidence that the work the seller has carried out is to a good standard and in line with the necessary regulations.
Hiring the right surveyor is essential in ensuring that you receive a comprehensive and accurate report on the property's condition. Here are some factors to consider that will help you hire the right surveyor and allow you to feel confident that you’ve made a sound investment in your new home.
Credentials: Check that the surveyor is a member of a reputable professional body such as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). This ensures that they have the necessary qualifications and experience to carry out the survey.
Experience: Look for a surveyor with experience in surveying properties similar to the one you’
are planning to purchase. They’ll need to be familiar with that type of property and how to approach any potential issues that may arise.
Reviews: Read reviews and testimonials from previous clients to get an idea of the surveyor's professionalism, quality of work
, and communication skills.
Cost: Compare quotes from different surveyors to feel confident that you’
are getting a fair price for the survey. However, it is essential to remember that the cheapest option may not always be the best.
Ask questions: Ask the surveyor any questions you may have about the survey process and what will be included in the report. This will give you an idea of what to expect and confirm that you are comfortable with their approach.
What happens if you buy a house without a survey?
While it may seem time-consuming and perhaps costly to conduct a survey when buying a house, holding off on getting one done can produce a number of risks. The purpose of a survey is to check and uncover any flaws in the property. However, if you buy a house without one, then any unexpected issues will solely be in your remit.
You may also lose the opportunity to negotiate a lower house price if there is work that is needed. This also affects the accuracy of your property valuation. This is because the mortgage lender will work to establish whether the house is worth the loan you’re requesting, whereas a surveyor will have all the information available to advise on the actual market value of your property. Given how important an event buying a home is, it’s strongly recommended that you carry out a survey to ensure you get the best value on your purchase.
Do you need a property survey if you’re a cash buyer?
If you need to take out a mortgage in order to buy your home, then lenders will require a mortgage valuation survey so they can confirm the property is worth the loan being offered. As cash buyers do
n’ ot need this service, they do not need to have a survey carried out. However, the risks of not knowing all the structural information about the house before purchasing still apply.
Do you need a property survey on a two-year-old house?
If you’re considering moving into a house that was very recently considered a new build i.e only a few years old, you may wonder if getting a survey is worth the money. While a newer home is likely to have fewer structural issues than older properties, there may have been shortcuts taken in the original build or mistakes made that will only be found by carrying out a survey. Counting on the newness of a property might seem to have good odds and will cut the costs of an already expensive process, however, buying the house can end up being even more pricey if structural issues are uncovered later down the line.
If you’re ready to find a new home, Purplebricks can help provide everything you need instantly. Get in touch with dedicated local experts and a team who are ready to support you at every step of the process.