Your guide to Home Buyer Reports

Skip the jargon and understand what your home report means before you proceed with a sale – it will give you peace of mind and a little bit of extra understanding for your new home…

Being a first-time buyer can sometimes be a daunting experience as you furiously gather together reams of paperwork before handing over your hard-earned cash. One of the documents that you’ll likely pore over prior to being given the keys is the Home Buyer Report, which is essentially a survey detailing the state of the property you are preparing to buy.

The report is designed to give you an accurate account of the property’s condition and will highlight any problems that need rectifying before the purchase is complete. These documents can often be written in industry jargon and so we’ve shared some top tips for understanding the important messages beneath the waffle…

What is a home buyer report?

A Home Buyer Report is a much more detailed inspection than the standard mortgage valuation, which is for the lenders to make sure they are lending on a suitable mortgage security. It gives a buyer peace of mind if nothing major is found wrong and forewarning if there are defects a buyer may not have been aware of.

A list of defects can sound off-putting and daunting to a buyer who quite naturally does not deal in property defects in their everyday lives. Speaking to the surveyor can often put your mind into a more positive place, as can speaking to a tradesman who can quote for putting the defects right.

Why do I need a home buyer report?

The cost of a Home Buyer Report will start in the region of £400 depending on the size and value of the property – but it could save you money in the long run by identifying any structural problems, such as subsidence or damp.

Keep in mind, though, that the Home Buyer Report doesn’t look beyond the floorboards or behind the walls.

But once your surveyor has visited the property you are hoping to buy, you should receive the report in just a few days, and it may open an opportunity to renegotiate on the price of the house or flat you want.

What happens if somethings wrong?

Obviously, there may be serious defects which could put you off, or on the other hand, give you leverage to reduce your offer to pay for anything defective and unexpected that was not priced into your original offer.

Emotionally, it can be hard to cope with when what you thought was your dream home turns out to have some issues. It’s worth remembering that it could still be a dream home with any defects considered in a revised purchase price, if you get quality trade people to help put it right. It’s worth the seller noting that any other buyer may discover the same defects, so they are best to discuss the price to keep you on board.

How do I understand my report?

Our advice would be to choose a good agent and a good surveyor and ask them to explain all the technical terms to you.

The last thing you want is to be frightened to death if you are not used to all that industry speak. But even if there is something in the report that worries you, most things are fixable.

A good surveyor will spend time with you to make sure that you don’t spend hundreds or thousands of pounds unnecessarily. But it all depends on how thorough people want to be, and everything will need looking into. Listed buildings will probably require a full structural survey, but on the whole, don’t panic and don’t be afraid to ask the experts for advice.

Type of survey: RICS Condition Report

What’s included? Describes the condition of the property, identifies any risks and potential legal issues and highlights any urgent defects. It’s most suitable for new-build and conventional homes in good condition; no advice or valuation is provided.

Type of survey: Home Buyer Report

What’s included? This will help you find out if there are any structural problems, such as subsidence or damp, as well as any other unwelcome hidden issues inside and outside.

Type of survey: RICS Building Survey

What’s included? Provides the same level of in-depth inspection as a building survey, but uses a simple 1, 2, 3 rating system to ensure that you can easily identify the most serious issues. This is mainly aimed at larger or older properties, or if you’re planning major works.

Type of survey: Full structural survey

What’s included? This is the most comprehensive survey and is suitable for all residential properties. It’s particularly good for older homes or homes that might need repairs.

Type of survey: New-build snagging survey

What’s included? This is an independent inspection to look for any issues with the property. Developers should fix faults highlighted before you move in.

Type of survey: Mortgage valuation survey

What’s included? This is to satisfy the lender that your desired property is worth the price you’re paying – or at least the amount it’s lending, before they approve your mortgage. It won’t point out repairs or structural problems that you will have to pay to fix.

Still have some questions? Get in touch and we’d be happy to give you some advice!