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Tips To Get Your Home Ready For A Survey

Introduction

When your home is on the market, and you attract buyers, it is common for them to arrange a building survey. Most buyers want to carry out a survey before they exchange contracts, and if they are taking out a mortgage to purchase the property, the lender will also conduct a mortgage survey. There are various types of home surveys available from RICS surveyors, including Level 1, 2 and 3 house surveys. A Level 3 survey is the most comprehensive survey. Mortgage surveys are carried out to ensure that buyers are paying a fair price for the house they wish to buy.

It is estimated that over 7 million buyers in the UK have bought houses without a survey, but studies suggest that surveys are becoming more popular. Younger buyers are more likely to invest in an RICS survey before they buy.

If you have accepted an offer on your property, it is wise to prepare for the survey.

Tips to get your home ready for a survey

Before surveyors visit your property to carry out a mortgage survey or an independent survey for a buyer, it’s an excellent idea to get your home ready. Here are some steps to take:

  • Repair minor defects, such as dripping taps and eliminating mould from the bathroom
  • Finish off DIY jobs
  • Clean and tidy your home, paying particular attention to the kitchen and bathrooms
  • Tidy up the garden
  • Clear access ways to the property
  • Move furniture away from the walls and clear window sills
  • Declutter
  • Make sure areas, such as the attic, are accessible

What to expect during a survey

During a house survey, a surveyor will inspect the house, carrying out a series of checks and visual assessments. The level of detail will depend on the type of survey. A Level 1 survey, for example, is much more basic than a Level 3 home survey. Depending on the survey selected by the buyer, the surveyor may want to access all areas and they might move furniture or lift loose floorboards to get a better idea of what lies beneath and check structural integrity and stability. They may also open all the windows, use ladders to assess the grounds and ask to observe services and drainage.

Common issues that are identified during house surveys include:

  • Damp
  • Structural movement
  • Japanese knotweed
  • Missing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Roof issues

Studies suggest that around 40% of house surveys reveal issues that would otherwise go unnoticed.

What do surveyors not look at during a home survey?

There are some obstacles and barriers that could prevent surveyors from carrying out a full inspection on the day. These include:

  • Restricted loft access and low ceiling height
  • Heavy furniture, which cannot be moved
  • Windows and doors with missing keys
  • Heavy drain covers
  • Fitted flooring
  • Restricted access to grounds and outbuildings

If a surveyor is unable to access areas, they will record this in their report. A buyer may request additional information and access to the property if they want to find out more about potential defects before they proceed.

Notifying a surveyor of concerns

If you are selling your house and you have concerns about defects or problems that are likely to be flagged during the home survey, it’s a good idea to talk to the surveyor when they arrive to do the survey. It’s best to be honest, as the surveyor will find issues as they inspect the house. In some cases, it will be possible to repair defects before the survey. If this is an option, this could help you to avoid issues with the buyer and speed up the sale process. If it is not possible, you can ask the surveyor for advice. The report will also provide important information for the buyer.

It is possible for buyers to withdraw from a sale or ask to renegotiate after they get the survey back. If the survey flags issues that need repairing urgently, or the cost of work is significant, the buyer might want to submit a lower offer price, or they may ask the seller to do the work before they exchange contracts and move in. They could also pull out of the sale.

Summary

Home surveys are recommended for every buyer. If you are selling your home, it’s important to prepare for the survey. Clean and tidy, finish off DIY jobs, repair minor defects and ensure that the surveyor can access all areas.

Author: Chris Bloor MSc MRICS is a chartered surveyor and RICS Registered Valuer as well as being the founder and Managing Director of CJ Bloor Property Consultants – a property consultancy based in the Northwest of England. Prior to establishing CJ Bloor in 2019, Chris worked as a senior professional consultant in another firm of chartered surveyors based in Newton-le-Willows.