A survey is a report carried out by a qualified chartered surveyor into the condition of a property you are buying. It usually takes between two and four hours, depending on the size of your home and how detailed the report is. From booking your survey to receiving the report shouldn’t take more than a few days. Here we take a closer look at what’s involved.
Different types of survey
During the house buying process several assessments of your home will take place, all with different goals and criteria. It’s easy to get them mixed up so here’s a brief breakdown:
- Market appraisal – an estate agent will carry this out to assess how much someone selling a home should put it on the market for. You do not have to follow their advice. If you’d like a quick market appraisal, we can give you a house valuation within 24 hours.
- Mortgage valuation – your mortgage provider will value your property to make sure it is worth the amount they are lending you. Sometimes they will ask you to pay for this. If they decide it isn’t, known as down valuing, you may have to ask the seller to lower their price or make up the difference yourself.
- Survey – this is arranged by the buyer to check the property is in good condition. This will point out major issues before you’re committed to buying the home.
You can also book various types of survey depending on how comprehensively you feel a home needs checking:
- Condition report – the cheapest form of survey at around £250 this gives an overview of the state of the property and points out any major problems. It’s best for conventionally built, modern buildings.
- Homebuyer report – this takes a more in-depth look at a home, highlighting issues such as subsidence and damp. The surveyor won’t go under floorboards or behind walls, but they may provide a valuation. These cost around £400.
- Building survey – a more detailed look at problems with advice on repairs. These often use a 1, 2, 3 rating system to prioritise which are the most pressing concerns. They start at around £500.
- Full structural survey – looking in detail at a home, these surveys will suggest potential hidden defects and ways to resolve them. They’re particularly good for older homes. These cost £600 and upwards.
You can book any of these for a newbuild property, although these homes are usually covered by a ten year warranty. Snagging surveys are also available for around £300, which list issues a developer should fix before you move in.
In Scotland, sellers must provide a home report which includes a survey that assesses the condition of a home and a valuation.
Arranging a survey
As soon as you’ve had an offer accepted on a home you should start arranging a survey. As long as the surveyor has space in their diary the process should only take a few days, however, this depends on how cooperative the seller is in agreeing on a date for them to visit.
If they are dragging their feet, your solicitor and their estate agent can nudge them to fix a date. The time it takes to carry out the survey will depend on the level of detail you’ve asked for and the size of the home, but a homebuyer report will take around two hours. The advantage of starting the process early comes if issues are found, hopefully providing enough time to renegotiate the price or make repairs without delaying the transaction. Some estate agents, solicitors and mortgage providers may suggest using their in-house conveyancers or partner companies. You are not obliged to and may prefer having a direct relationship with a surveyor. You may also want to use a local surveyor who is more likely to have useful local knowledge. Whoever you choose you should check they are registered with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.
Before the survey takes place talk to the surveyor to clarify exactly what will be included in the report – for example, will there be photos? – and to mention any issues you might want them to take particular notice of.
Working with us
If you sell your house to us we’ll organise and pay for all the home valuations that are needed. You’ll only pay for a survey if you’re buying another home and would like the one carried out.
Once you’ve filled out our online enquiry form, we’ll be able to give you an initial valuation within 24 hours. If you’re happy with it we’ll arrange for two local estate agents to visit and confirm the valuation and condition of your home.
Once we’ve agreed on a final price, we’ll move ahead to the sale. We can complete a transaction in just seven days if necessary and we buy using our own cash reserves. That means we’re not part of an unpredictable chain involving lots of homes. Chains regularly break down, often when a survey identifies a significant issue that causes a long delay or the collapse of a sale.