Buying a House > Homebuyers Report

Buying a property is a major investment and life moment, so you’re going to want to have some basic information about the condition of the property you’re buying.

This is where the Homebuyer’s Report (HBR) or Home Condition Survey (HCS) comes in – highlighting any immediate major issues with the property for an average cost of around £400. This survey is essentially a cheaper and less detailed relative of the Full Structural/Building Survey, which certainly goes a long way to explaining why it is the most popular type of home survey.

What does a Homebuyer’s Report Cover?

The HomeBuyer Report will include:

  • A current valuation of the property and indicative rebuild cost
  • Background information on the property and its location
  • An estimate for the cost of re-building the property for buildings insurance purposes
  • An assessment of any damp proofing, drainage or insulation in the building (drains are not tested)
  • Condition of the building’s timber, incorporating checks for woodworm
  • Damp test results taken from the walls
  • Details of urgent problems that should receive specialist attention before you sign a contract
  • Details of major faults that may affect the property’s value (in easy-to-get-to parts of the property)

What are the different homebuyer reports you can have?

There are two governing bodies that regulate UK surveyors, the RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) and the RPSA (Residential Property Surveyors Association).

The RICS, a global professional body for qualification and standards within the land, property, construction and infrastructure sectors, offers the Homebuyer Report (HBR). The RPSA represents independent specialist residential surveyors reporting on the condition of residential properties, and offers the Home Condition Survey (HCS). These can by and large be regarded as equivalent.

In 2016, the RICS introduced a new lower-cost Homebuyer Report that does away with the property-valuation component. This means the RICS members do not have to be registered valuers to conduct surveys and essentially gives you two RICS options:

  • HBR with survey – including advice on any defects that may affect the property
  • HBR with survey and valuation – including advice on any defects that may affect the property, with the addition of the market valuation and insurance rebuild cost

Finding a Surveyor

To find your surveyor, the first place you should look is on the two governing bodies’ websites:

RICS: https://www.rics.org/uk/

RPSA: http://www.rpsa.org.uk/

If you have trouble sourcing a surveyor, be sure to ask your friends and family, as they’re likely to have hired surveyors in the past. Another potential source of referrals would be your estate agent, or your conveyancer or solicitor, although their recommendations may be on a commission basis – which could increase cost.

What do you do if the survey shows up issues?

You should always take the time to read the full survey report. A summary of the survey will be presented at the front and an outline of any urgent repairs at the back.

Most surveys will find some issues on a property, more so with older properties. The Homebuyer’s Survey uses a ‘traffic light code’ system, highlighting in red any areas that need addressing immediately. This works as follows:

  • Green, or Condition 1 – No repair currently needed.
  • Amber, or Condition 2 – There are defects that need repairing or replacing but are not considered urgent or serious.
  • Red, or Condition 3 – There are defects that are very serious and/or in need to be repaired, replaced or investigated immediately.

You can also accompany your surveyor to the property if there are specific questions you’d like to ask about parts of the house that you may concern you. The most common issues uncovered by Homebuyers Surveys are electrical faults, issues with roofing, central-heating failures, damp and structural problems. If issues are found, you will need to take further actions. This could include:

  • Asking the surveyor how much it would cost to fix these issues
  • Getting a quote from builders/professionals
  • Renegotiating the asking price to a reduced fee (to cover the cost of the repairs) or requesting that the issues be fixed before you complete the sale

Essentially, if the surveyor estimates a repair cost of £5000, is it recommended to offer the seller £5000 less – to cover the costs of the repairs. If there are many issues with the property, you can still, at this point in time, walk away.

HomeBuyer’s Report: Differences in Scotland

In Scotland, sellers have to arrange a Home Report to show buyers before they can market their property. The report might include a survey by a RICS qualified surveyor and possibly a mortgage valuation, which might be acceptable to your lender. The deadline for the report is within 12 weeks of the property entering the market. New builds,  converted homes and those bought under the Right to Buy scheme don’t require the report. Nevertheless, it’s recommended still to pay for a survey in these cases, to make sure there aren’t any unforeseen issues.