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11 Aug, 2023/ by Surveyor Local /News

It is said that moving house is one of the three most stressful events that can happen in your life - along with a family death and getting married. Planning the move after choosing and agreeing a price on your new home, organising removals, the financial aspects of affording the new property and all the bills that go with it, worrying about the broader financial world and how that impacts you, and committing to the transaction at exchange of contracts, all bring their own pressures.

But it is coupled with a large element of excitement - it's a new home, discussions on how you are going to live in it both immediately and longer term, the colours and materials you're going to decorate your new home with, checking out the location and amenities and, most importantly, finally relaxing from what was one of the most stressful events in your life!

One of the main problems with moving house, though, is trying to identify areas where savings can be made, because the process is an expensive business.

Unfortunately, there are some prospective homebuyers who decide not to carry out a survey on the property in the misguided belief that they are saving money. Some others assume that their mortgage lender's valuation report is sufficient to confirm that the building is in ship-shape form.

It's quite within their rights not to book an appointment with a chartered surveyor, and it's perfectly acceptable to take the valuation from the mortgage company, but such decisions may result in false economy.

So, what type of survey is best for the type of property you are planning on buying?

There are four types of survey:

  1. Mortgage Valuation Report
  2. Property Valuation Report
  3. RICS Level 2 Survey (also known as the Homebuyer Report)
  4. RICS Level 3 Survey

Mortgage Valuation Report

When you apply for a mortgage with any lender, they will order a Mortgage Valuation, which is designed, as the name suggests, to establish the value of the property so that the lender can assess whether they can recoup the amount of the loan you are petitioning for in the event of loan default or any other reason you can't keep up payments.

It is not the same as the Property Valuation Report that you can order. 

The Mortgage Valuation is a very basic assessment by a qualified surveyor - often completed with the assistance of a computer at their desk (looking at readily-available information concerning both the local area and the specific building and grounds itself), or by simply driving past the property to have a quick look from an external point of view - and it is the responsibility of the lender to organise it.

If the surveyor does decide to visit the property, they will follow the direction given by the lender, but more often than not, it will be a very simple and short assessment of any obvious defects - misplaced tiles, obvious evidence of damp, mould, infestation, subsidence and so on.

But it won't cover anything that might not be obvious that may cause issues further down the line after you have committed to buying the property.

Property Valuation Report

The Property Valuation Report is the most basic of the surveys that you can obtain from your surveyor - and, of course, by that fact, it is the cheapest.

The appointed surveyor will give their expert opinion on the state of the property at a high level, driving towards providing a professional valuation that could help you renegotiate the asking price with the seller, purely based on whether the asking price matches it.

This type of survey, though, will not pick up on specific defects, which means that, while you get what is a superficially high-level assessment of likely issues with the home, you won't get any detail that might reveal itself if, say, you lifted the carpets and found evidence of woodworm, or moved furniture and saw some damp or black mould.

It should be noted that the Property Valuation Report comes as standard as part of both the RICS Level 2 and Level 3 Surveys.

If you want to see an example report of the type of detail that a Property Valuation Report will provide, click here.

RICS Level 2 Survey

The Level 2 Survey (or Homebuyer Report, as it is often referred to) is a general survey, performed by a qualified chartered surveyor, who will assess the visible defects within the particular property and make comments about the state of the building inside and out, in addition to an opinion on the rebuild cost.

As standard, the Level 2 Survey includes the Property Valuation Report.

The survey is designed to truffle out the building's problems and serious issues that might affect your decision to continue with its purchase, giving you an informed choice that could assist in any renegotiation with the vendor to help pay for any essential remedial works. Note, though, that this is an assessment of accessible areas - if the surveyor can't open or unlock certain parts, this will be annotated in the report, but they will not force access, and neither will they lift carpets and so on.

The analysis of the defects found will be presented to you in the report using an easy-to-follow, easy-to-read traffic light system (red = serious, needs immediate action, amber = needs action soon but not serious enough to require remedy instantly, and green = no problems or issues identified). So, a sea of green indicators would give you the swift view that the new home is worth buying, a flood of red and amber, giving you pause for thought and consideration.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) suggests that this type of survey is most suitable for properties that were built after 1900, is of standard construction, not listed and no recent extensive repairs or alterations have been performed.

If you want to see an example report of the type of detail that a RICS Level 2 Survey will provide, click here.

RICS Level 3 Survey

The Level 3 Survey is the most detailed - and therefore the most expensive - of the surveys you can order, performed by a qualified chartered surveyor, who will spend time and effort understanding everything possible about the state of the property. 

To provide an exhaustive report, the surveyor will describe in detail all the findings of major and minor defects, the cause (where it can be ascertained) and how it might be repaired along with an estimate for the cost of any remedies that would be required to fix the issues. The surveyor will also highlight any specific points for the attention of your conveyancing solicitor.

Armed with this very detailed information, you can perhaps enter into discussion with the vendor as to whether the asking price could be reduced to cater for any major expenditures required for remedial work, or to give you an informed choice on whether it's worth continuing with the purchase or if it's simpler financially to walk away from it.

RICS advises that this survey is particularly useful for any property that was built prior to 1900, or is constructed from unusual materials or using an uncommon method, it has had - or they are planned - extensive repairs or alterations, or the property is a listed building.

If you want to see an example report of the type of detail that a RICS Level 3 Survey will provide, click here.

Once you have decided which type of survey you'd like to take, you'll need to appoint a chartered surveyor to carry it out on your behalf.

And that's where Surveyor Local comes in! 

Surveyor Local will provide a quote that will not change - what you are quoted is what you pay. 

You'll get one of over 100 fully-qualified RICS surveyors, who is local to the property you are buying so they will know the area and bring that knowledge to their assessment and analysis of the issues with the new home.

Next-day bookings are usually available, and your appointed surveyor will look after arranging access to the property with the estate agent and the seller. Once the survey is complete, they will send you a PDF copy of the report by email.

Call to get your survey quote started, or to discuss your concerns with your planned property.

Or you can get a quick quote, using Surveyor Local's easy-to-use quote generator. Simply put in your name, postcode, email address, phone number and an approximate value of the property (usually the agreed price), and we'll give you an instant quote for the work (with an email copy). 

We'll do the rest once you confirm your acceptance of the quote.

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