How Does a Residential Survey Help Buyers?

How does a residential survey help buyers when they are trying to purchase a property?  In this guide we look at all the things you need to know.

A house is most likely one of the most expensive purchase you will make. The last thing you want is to find out that the house needs work doing to it and find yourself with added costs on top of a mortgage. Therefore, whether you plan to live in it, rent it out or sell it on, it is a good idea to get some expert advice on the quality of the house to know you are making the right choice. The best way to do this is to have an in-depth residential survey, so there are no hidden surprises.

In this Zevizo Properties blog, we will explain to you the different types of surveys available, how you can decide which the right one is for you, and the benefits of conducting a residential survey before you decide to buy a house. So lets begin, how does a residential survey help buyers?

What type of survey should I choose?

The first survey you may come across is a Mortgage Valuation. This works out how much the house is worth but only points out any major work that could change the value of the house. Although you may have to pay for it, this valuation is for the benefit of your mortgage lender rather than for you. While it is often called a ‘survey’ it will not tell you details about the condition of the house so you should not rely just on this to make your decision.

The most basic survey is a Condition Report. Designed to complement the mortgage valuation, it will give you an overview of the house’s condition, and show you any major issues, but it will not go into detail. If you are buying a new build home and just want reassurance that everything is okay, then a condition report may be fine, but for more detail and advice, it is probably not the one for you.

A more comprehensive survey, and one of the more popular choices, is a Home Buyers report. This will tell you about any major problems, including things like damp and subsidence. It will also give advice on repairs and ongoing maintenance, or anything that does not meet current building regulations. While giving more detail than a condition report, it is a non-intrusive survey and wont’ look under floorboards, move furniture, or drill any holes so you will only learn about surface level problems. Many buyers choose this option as it is can be 2/3rds the cost of a full survey, only takes a few hours to complete, and will give you all the essential information you will need.

The most thorough survey you can get is a Building Survey, also known as a Building Inspection Report, a Structural Survey or a Full Survey. This survey is essential for bigger, older and more unusual houses or if you plan to do any major work to the house. It gives a full analysis on the structure and condition of the house. It is a more ‘hands on’ survey, and the surveyor will be checking under floorboards, in the attic, and behind walls. There will be more advice like how long the repairs should last for, costs of the repairs and what could happen if you do not to the work. It is worth knowing that some surveyors may not offer a full Building Survey if your house is a flat, as it can be difficult to get access to the whole building, though some will have methods in place to do a full report on this type of home.

A full residential survey can be a little pricey. The cost will vary depending on the value of the house. Therefore, if the house is worth under £100,000, you will be looking to pay at least £500, rising to over £1,300 if the house is worth £500,000 or more. When you are already spending a lot on a house, forking out for a survey may seem like a big expense; however, it is always better to know of any problems before you buy a house, so that you will be a make an informed decision if you decide to buy.

What are the benefits and how does a residential survey help buyers?

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) found that homeowners spend an average of £5,750 on repairs, after moving into their home. An added cost you could do without! According to the Home Owners Alliance, only 20% of people decide to get a professional survey done before buying a house. Residential surveys are there to help avoid these extra costs, by finding any problems before you commit to buy.

If a survey reveals problems that you did not know about, or finds out that the known problems are much more serious or expensive to sort out, it may give you a chance to renegotiate the price with the vendor. For example, if you find that the house will need £10,000 worth of repairs, you could ask for a £10,000 reduction on the price, or see if the seller would be willing to do the work before you exchange contracts. Although, if you decide not to buy the house, you are unlikely to get back your survey costs unless you have an agreement with the vendor. This is why many buyers leave a residential survey to the end of the negotiation; it is a lot of extra money to spend on a house you are not sure if you like.

Finally to conclude our article ‘How does a residential survey help buyers?’, if you decided to have a full Building Survey it will not only tell you of any immediate problems, but will also tell you about work that may need doing in the future and a rough timeline for it. This will give you time to budget for these repairs and save you the shock later on. Whatever you plan on doing with the house after you buy it, it is always better safe than sorry!

We hope you enjoyed ‘How does a residential survey help buyers?’ and that you found it useful.  Have you had any nasty surprises from a residential survey?  Leave a comment below and share your stories.

If your still hungry for more information and articles on residential survey’s take a look at our blog post ‘Homebuyer Survey Nightmares and How to Fix Them’.