The buyer is responsible for arranging a property survey.
If the property purchase is being made with a mortgage, the mortgage lender will require at least a basic mortgage valuation report to be carried out on the property and this will be arranged by your chosen mortgage lender when you submit your full mortgage application. It is up to you as the buyer whether you wish to carry out a more comprehensive survey, such as a HomeBuyer or Full Building Survey.
What are the different property survey types?
1. Basic Mortgage Valuation
The basic mortgage valuation is a requirement if you are buying a property with a mortgage. The survey is for the benefit of the mortgage lender only and does not report in any detail on the condition of the property or any defects. You shouldn’t solely rely on your mortgage valuation if you are buying a property. You may not get a copy or even see what the surveyor has written. It’s sole purpose is to inform the mortgage lender whether or not the property is reasonable security for your loan. If there are obvious major structural issues then the surveyor may advise the mortgage lender to carry out a more detailed inspection. Which, in turn, you will have to oblige with.
2. HomeBuyer Survey
The HomeBuyer survey describes the condition of the property, identifies any risks and potential legal issues and highlights any urgent defects. It uses simple ‘traffic light’ ratings to clearly identify the condition of the key elements of the property. It also includes advice on defects that may affect the property with repairs, and ongoing maintenance advice. The HomeBuyer survey is one of the most popular choices for First Time Buyers.
3. Full Building Survey
Mainly reserved for large or very old properties (such as listed buildings), or recommended if you are seeking planning permission for development or significant structural works. This is the most comprehensive survey and not always available through your mortgage lender. Typically, an independent private surveyor is required for this type of survey report as more time is needed to carry out the inspection. The survey includes much of the HomeBuyer survey reporting but with more attention to detail.
Important notes on the mortgage valuation:
If you are buying a property with a mortgage, the mortgage lender will need to instruct the basic mortgage valuation via their own panel of surveyors. You cannot choose your own surveyor to carry out the mortgage valuation. You can however, choose to have the HomeBuyer report carried out by an independent party or you can pay for a survey upgrade with the mortgage lender. Usually, the survey is cheaper to upgrade via your mortgage lender but you lose the choice over which surveying company carries it out.
Where can I find out more information?
For independent guidance on property surveys, you can download this useful PDF guide from the RICS website:
Author: Ben, Glow Mortgage Advisor (CeMAP, BSc Hons)
Date Published: 10th July 2019