The Benefits of Obtaining an Impartial RICS Property Survey

By James Brook FRICS on and updated on

n today’s property market obtaining a survey report isn’t just a smart idea: it’s a necessity. Before you commit to decades of mortgage repayments that could total millions of pounds, you need to know what you’re signing up for. And that means that you shouldn’t rely on a lender’s mortgage valuation alone.

Unfortunately, most people do rely on a lender’s mortgage valuation to determine whether a property’s asking price is fair. But you should remember that lender’s love lending money. Their valuation might not be 100% accurate or impartial. There’s also a good chance you won’t find much information regarding defects on a lender’s mortgage valuation.

But do you really want to invest in a home that could cost thousands of pounds to put right?

At this point, we should mention that almost all properties, regardless of age, do hide defects. Even the average new-build can have dozens of problems, from poor plasterwork to structural issues.

And, as you’ll find out later in this article, failing to obtain a property survey can cost you a pretty penny. In fact, the average property hunter who neglects to get a survey report ends up with a repair bill worth nearly £6,000.

So, clearly, property surveys can be – and most often are – highly worthwhile investments, particularly given they can cost as little as a few hundred pounds. But property surveys are useful for more than just finding hidden defects.

Soon, we’ll tell you precisely why you need a property survey in today’s market. First, here’s a quick reminder of what surveys are available.

A brief guide to UK property surveys

In the UK, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) is the governing body that sets the guidelines all RICS Chartered Surveyors must follow in order to compile a report. The most common surveys are:

Level 1 Survey – Condition Report

This is the most basic property survey endorsed by RICS, and it’s really only suitable for homes that are in near-perfect condition. However, given that defects can be lurking in inaccessible or hard-to-reach areas, we’d always recommend investing in a Level 2 Survey at the minimum (ours start from £400).

Level 2 Survey – HomeBuyer Report

The HomeBuyer Report goes into more detail than the Condition Report, using a traffic-light system to rate defects based on severity. It’s useful for recently built homes with few or no alterations.
Unless you’re looking at a property that needs serious work, we usually recommend the Level 2 survey. However, because we believe the HomeBuyer Report doesn’t include key information relevant to today’s property hunter, we’ve created our own bespoke HomeLevel report that goes one step further despite being the same price. It’s a concise, economic, expert survey report suitable for flats and more modern houses such as those built after 1990, in a reasonable condition and worth less than £1,000,000. The report is laid out in an easy-to-understand traffic light rated format to help you understand the most urgent issues affecting your potential dream home.
Find out how HomeLevel compares with the HomeBuyer Report.

Level 3 Survey – Full Building Survey

full building survey is the most detailed, giving you cost-estimates for any required repairs and information on boundary lines, potential legal issues and more. It also includes an impartial valuation.

Why you need a property survey

Almost all property experts recommend obtaining a property survey prior to buying or selling a home. Nevertheless, only 20% of property hunters get a report before purchasing a house. So, what benefits are 80% of property hunters missing out on?

Save a small fortune on repair costs

Property surveys highlight defects that might be unnoticeable to the untrained eye. However, many flats and houses hide problems such as structural damage, roofing issues and wet rot. Left alone, those problems can become very costly to fix (not to mention dangerous).

On average, buyers who fail to obtain a survey end up with a repair bill worth £5,750. That figure is even higher for new homeowners, 17% of whom have to pay over £12,000 to make a property habitable. Hire a RICS Chartered Surveyor to find out what problems are lurking, and you won’t have to worry about any nasty – and costly – surprises.

Reduce a property’s asking price

Not all properties with defects need to be avoided. After all, problems are bound to arise at some point or another. However, if you know what the problems are and have a rough idea of how much they’ll cost to rectify, you might be able to shave a significant sum off a property’s asking price.

Better still, most RICS Chartered Surveyors can handle some of the negotiations for you. So, instead of letting minor issues put you off a home, use them to your advantage.

Work with an impartial property specialist

When you apply for a mortgage, lenders will hire a Surveyor to provide a valuation, which usually doesn’t include information on defects. Consequently, a lender’s mortgage valuation can be heavily inflated. Would you prefer to trust the bank’s final say or have an independent RICS Surveyor work on your behalf while prioritising your best interests?

Get your report quickly

Purchasing a home can be a time-consuming and stressful process, which might be why 80% of homeowners skip property surveys. Our bespoke Level 2 HomeLevel Report is digitally compiled for optimum efficiency and by using mobile based technology, we can inspect and produce an accurate report within just a few days. Learn more about the benefits of HomeLevel.

Avoid potential legal issues

Let’s say you’ve found your dream home and feel confident that its condition is immaculate. All you need to do is pop up some new fencing, alter your adjoining walls and spruce the place up a tad. But are you legally allowed to do that? How can you find out?

If requested, most RICS Surveyors can define your legal boundaries, enabling you to determine where you can actually build that fence and what land belongs to you. They can also provide advice on party wall matters, from explaining your rights to helping you apply for permission. Learn more about party wall matters and how our Surveyors can help.

Interested in learning more about property surveys?

The bottom line is – getting a RICS Chartered Surveyor to scope out a property before you buy it can pay dividends. So, if you want to invest your money wisely, give our experts a call. We’ll tell you more about our modern approach, fast turnaround times, exceptionally high-value prices, and how the benefits of property surveys make them well worth the price.

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