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What is a HomeBuyer Report? (Level 2 Survey)

Martha Lott

Written by Reviewed by Graham Stephenson

18th Nov 2019 (Last updated on 12th Jan 2022) 11 minute read

A RICS HomeBuyer Report, also known as a Level 2 RICS survey under the new RICS Home Survey Standard, is the most common type of house survey available and can be used on many different property types. Sometimes called a Homebuyers Survey, it’s not as in-depth as the Building Survey, so it’s more suited for properties built less than 50 years ago and will flag major issues and defects in the property you’re buying.

Getting a HomeBuyer Report completed on a property will remove a huge amount of risk. Having that information to hand will put you in a much better position to negotiate on the price and terms as you will know the future hassle and cost of buying that property.

This article will cover the following:
  1. What is the Purpose?
  2. What Does A HomeBuyer Report Cover?
  3. How Long Does it Take?
  4. How Much is a HomeBuyer Report?
  5. What Does The Report Look Like?
  6. What Are Common Issues Found?
  7. Is It Worth Getting a HomeBuyer Report?
  8. What is the Difference Between a HomeBuyer Report and a Building Survey?
  9. Other Types of House Survey
  10. Learn More About Surveying

What is the Purpose?

A HomeBuyers Report will reveal important information about the property you plan to buy, so you can either renegotiate your original offer to cover costs, or pull out of the sale. The survey can be used for most types of property, from a standalone house to a flat.

You’ll need a homebuyers survey if the property is:

  • Fairly modern and built less than 50 years ago
  • In good condition
  • Has no obvious signs of damage
  • Hasn’t had any renovation work done

It's the most popular type of survey for home buyers as it's detailed enough to highlight any major issues but doesn’t cost as much as a more thorough report. It's best suited for buildings that do not have any obvious issues or buildings that are not high risk, unlike old or period properties.

It will be the buyer's responsibility to organise a property survey after their offer has been accepted. In Scotland, it's the seller's responsibility.

What Does A HomeBuyer Report Cover?

The homebuyers survey will include a thorough external and internal inspection of the property, presenting the findings in an easy to read report. The report will also include include background information on the property and location.

The surveyor will inspect all the visible and accessible areas of the property and can also take your specific concerns into consideration, paying particular attention to those worrisome areas - this will then be reflected in their report.

A surveyor will look at the following during a HomeBuyer Report:


  • Roof structure
  • Ceilings
  • Walls and partitions
  • Floors (if not covered)
  • Fireplaces, chimney breasts and flutes
  • Built-in fittings
  • Woodwork (staircase and joinery)
  • Bathroom fittings


    • Chimney stacks
    • Roof coverings
    • Rainwater pipes and gutters
    • Main walls
    • Windows
    • Outside doors
    • Conservatory and porches
    • Other joinery and finishes


    • Garages
    • Conservatories
    • Tenure
    • Services

    To learn more, read what does a surveyor do and look for.

    How Long Does it Take?

    A homebuyers survey will take 2-4 hours to complete and 3-5 working days for the report to be returned to you, normally by email. Although in some cases you may receive it via the post if you request this but you may be charged extra. In contrast, a building survey could take as long as 8 hours if the house is in poor condition.

    When it comes to your homebuyers survey, it's good to understand how much time it'll take to complete the initial inspection as well as how long it'll take to get the results to help you plan for your overall move.

    1. Booking a property survey

    Buyers book their homebuyers survey once they have had an offer accepted. For this reason, you should start getting quotes as soon as possible to avoid any delay in the chain. If there's somebody currently living in the property, you'll need to agree with them ahead of time when the survey will take place.

    Your estate agent will usually suggest that you make the offer on the condition that a survey does not produce any significant or costly findings. Once the survey is complete, there's nothing to stop you from going back to the seller and attempting to negotiate the house price based on the findings.

    2. How long does a house survey take?

    A homebuyer survey will take between 2-4 hours to complete. This varies depending on the size of the property as well as the accessibility the surveyor has to various parts of the house. Other surveys might take less or more time, depending on the size of the house.

    If possible, it's good to ask the surveyor what access they will need ahead of time and make sure this is available for their visit. Not only will this ensure that the survey is completed quickly, but will also ensure that no crucial areas are neglected in the report.

    3. How long does it take for house survey results?

    You will receive your homebuyers report within 3-5 working days. It’s usually sent via email but can request a hard copy if you prefer. This can vary based on the size and condition of the building as well as how busy the surveyor is.

    How Much is a HomeBuyer Report?

    The average homebuyers survey cost is £500 for a house priced between £100,000 and £249,000, though can be as cheap as £350 for properties worth up to £99,000. Homebuyer survey costs will vary depending on the size of the property as well as other factors.

    Like most aspects of moving house, it's always worth getting quotes from surveyors in order to get the best price for you. However, when doing this it is important to make sure that all those contacted are established and RICS regulated.

    Below are the average homebuyers survey cost for a range of property prices.

    Property PriceAvg. Homebuyers Survey Cost
    up to £100,000£380
    £100,001 - £200,000£420
    £200,001 to £300,000£500
    £300,001 to 400,000£570
    £400,001 to £500,000+£640+

    To create the table Compare My Move took the average costs from a sample of 20 RICS Chartered Surveyors and Building Societies across the UK. Note that true house survey costs will vary depending on your particular situation and area.

    Average cost of a homebuyers survey

    What Does The Report Look Like?

    This is an example of a homebuyers report to help familiarise yourself with what to expect during the surveying process, provided by Cambridge Building Surveyors.

    A Homebuyers Survey report will be presented using a traffic light system to highlight the severity of repairs. As the name suggests, the traffic light system works based on three colours: red, amber and green, with green meaning no repairs needed and red meaning urgent repair.

    The report is written in a way that's easy to understand without difficult jargon to decipher. This has been done for consumers to understand exactly what the issues are, the impact they have and how severe they actually are.

    Below is an example of what you can expect in your homebuyers report and what the traffic light system means.

    ColourCondition RatingWhat This Means


    Condition Rating 1

    No repair is currently needed. The property must be maintained in the normal way.


    Condition Rating 2

    Defects that need repairing or replacing but are not considered to be either serious or urgent. The property must be maintained in the normal way.


    Condition Rating 3

    Defects that are serious and/or need to be repaired, replaced or investigated urgently.


    Not Inspected

    If cupboards were blocked or roof space blocked then it can not be inspected.

    traffic light system for homebuyers report

    What Are Common Issues Found?

    Common issues found in a HomeBuyer Report are damp, subsidence and any cracks on walls. We’ve discovered UK homebuyers’ biggest property concerns based on information supplied when searching for a surveyor.

    Top UK Property Concerns

    The top 5 concerns when buying a property are:


    Damp is the top concern when buying a property according to the study, with almost 1 in 4 homebuyers noting it as a potential issue for a surveyor to explore. Damp is a common problem, particularly in older properties, and is usually caused by either poor ventilation, a leaking roof, failed damp proof course or plumbing problems. Your surveyor will carry out a full inspection of each potential cause and the severity of the damp in the property.

    To learn more, read What is a Damp Survey.

    Cracks and Roofing

    Following in joint second place is ‘cracks’ and ‘roofing’, with almost one in six (14.9%) highlighting these two issues as a concern. While most houses will experience cracks in the walls at some point, most of the time, it’s a natural occurrence caused by settlement which can be easily fixed. However, larger cracks could be a sign of serious structural problems, like damage to the foundations, which should be taken seriously.

    To learn more, read Ceiling Cracks, When to Worry.


    8.3% of UK homebuyers stated they were concerned about 'subsidence’ when buying a property. In 2018, several insurers found a 20 percent increase in subsidence claims after the year’s heatwaves led to cracks appearing in walls.

    If you’re worried about potential subsidence in a property, it’s worth noting homes built on clay are particularly susceptible to subsidence during long, dry summers. This is something a surveyor and conveyancer will investigate as part of your house purchase.

    To learn more, read What is Subsidence.


    ‘Flooring’ saw 6.5% of all concerns from homebuyers. Both RICS Home Survey Level 2 and Home Survey Level 3 are non-intrusive, which means that a surveyor can't rip up floorboards or take up carpet unless it is easily accessible without damage.


    A further 2.8% of concerns revolved around finding asbestos in a property survey. It's mostly found in properties that were built before 1999, as it's no longer used in construction. Rest assured, your homebuyer report will flag any signs of this.

    To learn more, read Buying a House with Asbestos.

    Other common issues found in property surveys that didn't make it to the most popular concerns are dry rot and woodworm. Dry rot is a type of fungal decay found in properties that can cause structural damage if left untreated. Woodworm is also a common issue found in surveys, which is mainly found in damp properties. Although most of the time woodworm isn't a deal breaker, it can cause structural damage in certain circumstances.

    Is It Worth Getting a HomeBuyer Report?

    It’s always worth getting a homebuyers survey or a building survey on a property you’re buying. However, it’s not a legal requirement to get a homebuyers survey but it’s highly recommended for peace of mind.

    Research conducted by The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) highlights the importance of property surveys as 1 in 5 property buyers who didn’t have a survey conducted, later found faults throughout their house. With over 1,000 buyers surveyed, those who didn’t have a survey had to subsequently spend an average of £5,750 on repair work they weren’t aware was required.

    By having a property survey, you’ll be aware of any issues and potential costs before you commit to buying the house. If you believe that the work required has too large a budget, you can save yourself the money and pull out of the sale. However, if you think the work is manageable, you can either use it as evidence to renegotiate the price or you can ask the seller to get it fixed before the transaction is final.

    If you're purchasing a property, you want to know what you're buying before you commit. A homebuyers survey is the cheapest out of the comprehensive surveys. The report will state whether or not the property is worth the asking price, saving you money in the long run. You need to know if you are financially capable of maintaining the building whilst you're staying there, ensuring it's a safe place to live now and in the future.

    What is the Difference Between a HomeBuyer Report and a Building Survey?

    When you're buying your new home, there may be some confusion over which type of survey you need. Typically, the two main house surveys are a homebuyers survey and a building survey - each has pros and cons depending on your situation and the property in question. For a quick look into the homebuyers report vs the building survey, we've covered some of the basic pros and cons in the table below.

    HomeBuyer Report (Level 2)Building Survey (Level 3)


    • Can be used on most properties.
    • Checks the general condition of the building and highlights the most common areas of concern.
    • Most affordable in-depth house survey.
    • Suited for older homes that may have structural issues or are built in an unconventional way.
    • The most in-depth survey available that checks condition and structure.
    • Includes photographs so you’re aware of what needs repairing.
    • Can include projected costing and timelines for any repairs.
    • Useful if you plan to convert or extend a property.


    • Only areas that are easily accessible are surveyed.
    • Areas such as drains and under carpets are not assessed.
    • Doesn’t include estimated costs or photographs.
    • Dependent on the size of the property, it can take up to a day to complete.
    • The most expensive type of survey.

    Other Types of House Survey

    If you don't require a homebuyers report, we've listed the other types of house survey and what property types they're best suited to.

    Condition Report (Level 1) - These aren't very in-depth surveys so are suited for standard properties and relatively new homes in good condition such as flats.

    HomeBuyer Report (Level 2) - As mentioned above, the homebuyers survey is for properties built less than 50 years ago in good condition.

    Building Survey (Level 3) - Suited for higher-risk properties, the building survey is a more comprehensive survey that will give you a better idea of any costly or potentially costly issues within the building.

    Snagging List - New build properties most of the time require just a snagging list as they are brand new so won't typically have much damage. This is especially true of new builds that are still under new home warranty.

    Learn More About Surveying

    This is part of our guide to surveying. In the next article, we look at building surveys, previously known as full structural surveys. To learn more read what is a building survey or full structural survey.

    Martha Lott

    Written by Martha Lott

    Having written for Huffington Post and Film Criticism Journal, Martha now regularly researches and writes advice articles for everything moving house related.

    Graham Stephenson

    Reviewed by Graham Stephenson

    MRICS Director and Owner, MAP Chartered Surveyors

    Founded in 1985, Graham's company, MAP Chartered Surveyors are RICS regulated and quality assured to British Standards.