What you need to know about property valuations and surveys

What you need to know about property valuations and surveys

Did you know that a fifth of house hunters don’t bother with a professional property survey for their new homes? Did you know that a fifth of homebuyers who don’t get professional property surveys wouldn’t have bought their homes if their real condition was known?

Did you know that a fifth of house hunters don’t bother with a professional property survey for their new homes? Did you know that a fifth of homebuyers who don’t get professional property surveys wouldn’t have bought their homes if their real condition was known? Did you know that, on average, homebuyers are saddled with repairs of over £5700 – repairs that they could have been compensated for if they had paid for a full property survey designed to uncover structural defects and the like? Would you like to avoid the same fate? Well, read on.

Most of the above information comes courtesy of an article by Amy Andrew, which cites research by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), which regulates the property surveying industry in the UK and ensures that homebuyers get the qualified and professional service they deserve. The article takes pains to illustrate how important independent property surveys are, and why homebuyers shouldn’t just rely on the mortgage valuation required by their lenders.

A valuation is not a survey

First things first, a mortgage valuation is not the same as a property survey. It doesn’t look for the same things, it isn’t as comprehensive and it doesn’t provide any suggestions or advice. All a mortgage valuation really does is confirm (or deny) that the house is worth the price you’re prepared to pay, and, if necessary, it will mention serious problems that affect the property’s current market value.

All mortgage lenders require a valuation report and many will insist on using their own trusted valuers, although you can hire an independent valuer if you prefer, provided your lender agrees. Valuation services are not free and the costs vary according to the price of the property. You can expect to pay between £150 and £250 for a moderately priced home (up to about £150,000).

Property surveys, on the other hand, can be quite comprehensive and in-depth and are particularly valuable if you’re buying an old house, a real fixer-upper, or a special build, like a converted barn or church.

There are three types of property surveys:

  1. Condition report

A condition report is the least comprehensive and invasive type of property survey. It provides the bare minimum of information and is not really much different to a mortgage valuation. In fact, a mortgage valuation is a better bet because it at least provides an estimate of the property’s value, which a condition report does not.

  1. Homebuyers report

A homebuyers report provides more detail than a basic condition report, including a valuation and insurance reinstatement value. However, it is not truly comprehensive as surveyors don’t poke into all of the house’s nooks and crannies; they only look at what is obviously visible. They don’t, for instance, inspect the wiring. Surveyors do provide advice on how to fix problems, like damp.

A homebuyers report costs between £200 and £400, but it’s well worth it if you have any concerns regarding the property, especially if it’s relatively old.

  1. Building survey

Building surveys are as comprehensive as property surveys get and, as a result, they aren’t cheap. However, if you intend buying a listed property, an auction property in questionable condition or a home that requires extensive renovations then a full building survey is the way to go. Surveyors aren’t afraid to get dirty, checking the walls, floors, woodwork, insulation, drainage, attic, roof, etc. The report will include a full list of all the problems, an estimated cost of repairs, an outline of what could happen if repairs are not carried out and other miscellaneous information.

The costs of a full residential building survey vary between £600 and £2000, depending on the size and value of the property. However, if you think back to the average cost of repairs mentioned earlier, the price is more than worthwhile.

Who to trust

It’s important that you choose your surveyor carefully. Ensure that your list of candidates all belong to the RICS, the Independent Surveyors Association (ISA) or the Incorporated Society of Valuers and Auctioneers (ISVA). This guarantees high levels of professionalism and accountability.

Alternatively, if you’re putting your house on the market, contact Tepilo for a free online property valuation – to get you started. Proper property surveys might cost a bit more than the standard mortgage valuation, but it’s better to spend a little more now than to repent in the long run.


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