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Should Buyers Obtain a Survey Report?

When acting in purchasing transactions we often get asked by clients whether they need a survey report. We always advise that you should obtain one as it identifies potential issues, such as structural problems, which could affect the value of the property and your decision to purchase it. We also recommend that you use someone who is a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) who is totally independent of the seller and the selling agent, to ensure that the information received is wholly unbiased.

We would particularly recommend it if:

  • you have specific worries about any part of the property
  • you’re unsure about what sort of condition the property is in
  • you are looking to buy an old or unusual property
  • the property has a thatched roof or is timber framed
  • it is a listed building

Three different levels of report are available :

  1. RICS Home Survey – Level 1. This is the most basic and cheapest survey. It is only a light summary of the basic condition of the property, it doesn’t go into much detail and usually does not include any advice or a valuation
  2. RICS Home Survey – Level 2 – Also referred to as a Homebuyers Surveyor. This is a mid-level survey both on cost and information and is a popular choice for buyers. It covers everything that appears in the Level 1 report but goes into more detail. It will give recommendations for further investigations where necessary and also advice on the budget for any repairs, as well as an amount for ongoing maintenance in the future. It will usually include a market value and an insurance reinstatement value.
  3. RICS Home Survey – Level 3. This is a full structural survey and is the most thorough of the three that are available. Therefore, it is also the most expensive. Not only does it cover everything offered in the Level 2 survey, it will comment on hidden defects in areas not inspected, outline the likely scope of any appropriate remedial work and explain the consequences of not having the work carried out. It will also prioritise the necessary works and the likely timescale for repairs.

The costs of a survey can be expensive and, as it is not a legal requirement for a buyer to obtain one, some purchasers are reluctant to incur the additional fees. However, if the survey reveals that works are required, you can use this information to either renegotiate the price, or you could ask the seller to fix any problems before you buy. In addition, knowing the condition of the property, helps you make an informed decision about whether to purchase the property or not.

If you're purchasing a property and require legal assistance, please email Ann Wilson


About the author

Ann Wilson

Ann is highly experienced in dealing with all aspects of residential conveyancing.

TMJ Legal Services

TMJ Legal Services has been helping individuals and businesses since 1986. We offer a range of advice and services. 

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