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Is it worth paying for a home survey?

Moving home can be a challenging time, whether it’s heavy financial costs or concerns about your new property. There are many important decisions to make, not to mention – is this the right home for me? Fortunately, home surveys can provide ease of mind by using expert evaluations to assess the condition of a property, helping to reduce worries about unexpected costs in the near future. But home surveys are usually an additional charge to an already expensive situation, so it’s important to consider what they entail and whether or not it’s worth paying for one so you can make an informed decision.

What is a home survey?

A home survey is a review of a property conducted by a surveyor, which highlights any issues related to the property. They are often carried out for prospective buyers, once an offer has been accepted. The surveyor will inspect the property and compile a report with findings.

What does a home survey cover?

There are various different types of surveys, which largely depend upon the age or type of property, as well as the homebuyers’ needs. Home surveys conducted according to RICS standards range from Level 1 to Level 3, where the higher the level, the more comprehensive the survey. Level 2 is known as the HomeBuyer Survey, which covers everything from ceilings, walls, windows, floors and the roof, to drainage, insulation, damp-proofing, energy services and more. This is generally the most popular survey, as it covers a wide range of areas and is suitable for properties in good condition [1]. For older properties or if you’re looking to do a renovation, a Level 3 Building Survey might be more appropriate. These types of surveys delve deeper into the property’s condition and look beyond the easily-visible, such as looking under floorboards.

Do I need a home survey? 

Not everyone buys a home survey. It is not a legal requirement, and the choice is down to the prospective homeowner. In fact, recent research found that one in 12 homebuyers completed without one in 2019/20 [2].

While surveys can often seem like an additional cost, they can also prevent much greater expenses further down the road. The same study found that 42% of home surveys that year identified issues with a property, which may have otherwise been overlooked during completion [2].

In some instances, findings from a home survey can be grounds for renegotiating the asking price, ensuring you get a fair price and don’t overpay. The research also reported that homebuyers who found problems with their property through purchasing a survey were able to bring down the asking price by an average of £5744 [2].

Before deciding, it’s always advisable to make sure you’re informed on what different surveys entail and what level is most suitable to your budget and property. Chatting to a qualified Chartered Surveyor about your options can be a useful step in deciding whether or not to purchase one.

How much do home surveys cost?

Typically, it’s the buyer that pays for the home survey, and the price depends on:

  • The level of survey you choose
  • The market value of the property
  • The location of the property.

Generally, a Level 2 HomeBuyer Survey can cost between £400 and £1000, whereas a Level 3 Building Survey tends to start at £700. Most surveyors will be happy to give you a quote for a more accurate estimation.

Can I get one for free?

A handful of surveyors offer services for free, however these are distinctively different from RICS Chartered Surveyors offering the Level 2 HomeBuyer survey and Level 3 Building survey. They generally cover a small number of problem areas, and therefore might not identify an important issue.

What are the benefits of paying for a home survey?

If you choose to purchase a survey from an RICS Chartered Surveyor, you will receive a detailed report that complies with their regulations. The RICS is a globally recognised professional body, and so their surveys are designed to be impartial and reflect the highest professional standards. They’re generally more in depth and comprehensive than many home surveys offered for free, and are therefore more likely to provide an accurate assessment of the property. Furthermore, a home survey that complies with RICS standards may also be more useful in negotiating an asking price given the reputation of an RICS status.

Beyond identifying issues, you’re also paying for the expertise of the surveyor, who provides recommendations and considerations for your legal advisor. For Level 3 Building surveys, the surveyor can often provide financial projections for any necessary repair work too.

In summary…

Although home surveys are not a requirement, and you may be able to get one for next to nothing, understanding the value of purchasing a home survey from an RICS Chartered Surveyor is important. RICS home surveys are detailed and comprehensive, and while they may incur costs, research has shown that a quarter of homebuyers who didn’t have a survey were hit with unforeseen bills averaging over £3500 for repairs [2]. If you’re worried about your budget, or want to find out more, discuss your needs with a surveyor and get an accurate estimation of costs to help make your decision.

References

  1. Maunder, S. (2021) House surveys, Which? https://www.which.co.uk/money/mortgages-and-property/first-time-buyers/buying-a-home/house-surveys-akbw67f03dkx
  1. Direct Line (2020) An estimated 100,000 home purchases completed with no property survey in the last year https://www.directlinegroup.co.uk/en/news/brand-news/2020/an-estimated-100-000-home-purchases-completed-with-no-property-s.html