A lot of people ask the question, ‘Should I get a survey?’ when they are considering buying a new house. A property survey is optional and only around 20% of people buying a property have a professional survey performed before they buy their new home.
Some people may be confused by the difference between a mortgage valuation and a survey and think that they already have a survey. However, it is important to remember that a mortgage valuation is not a survey. A valuation is a quick look at a property to assess its worth. It may note any major works that would affect the value. Mortgage lenders may insist that they use their trusted partners to carry out the valuation. Their sole interest is ensuring that the property is sufficient security against the loan. Some of these valuations are now desktop valuations which means that nobody actually comes to see your property, they are conducted via internet searches using Google street view and sites that record the recent sale prices of similar homes on your street and in your immediate area. The mortgage valuation is not performed for your benefit, it is solely for the lenders.
A survey is carried out by a qualified surveyor who is a member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Using a local surveyor will also mean that they are more likely to have a better understanding of the local market and values. The survey will be a detailed inspection of the property’s condition and the surveyor will advise you about:
- Any major structural issues such as unsafe walls or subsidence.
- Any major repairs or alterations that are needed to rectify damp issues, chimney stacks, windows etc.
- The construction of the property – there will be a commentary on the age, method of building, types of walls and glazing.
There are different types and levels of surveys available and you can read about them here to help you decide what is best for your situation.
Do I need it?
A property survey is optional, you do not have to get one before you buy a house. However, it could help you to avoid the expense of discovering unwanted surprises after you have completed the purchase such as an unexpected rewiring job. For the same token, having a survey could mean giving you reassurance that the cracks that you can see are historic and don’t mean anything sinister, the building isn’t moving.
Buying a house is the single most expensive purchase most of us will ever make and having a survey done might make you reconsider whether to buy the property or use the independent and unbiased opinion to renegotiate the price based on the findings. If the house needs a lot of work doing on the roof for example, it is not unreasonable to ask the seller to reduce the price by the amount you would have to spend to rectify the problem. Alternatively, you could ask for the work to be completed before you progress with the purchase.
Using a RICS Chartered Surveyor will give you peace of mind that the house has been looked at by an experienced and qualified professional and the cost of a survey can be looked at as an investment in your new home and your peace of mind. In fact, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) have researched that properties who have not had a survey will face an average of £5,750 in repair bills due to hidden defects.
For more information, or to book a survey, please do get in touch. We would be happy to talk through your options and offer some advice.