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What is a Homebuyers Survey Report?

Written by Reviewed by Garrett O'Hanlon

18th Nov 2019 (Last updated on 31st Mar 2020) 12 minute read

A Homebuyers Survey, also known as a Homebuyers Report, is the most common type of property survey available and can be used for all types of properties. It will flag major issues with your home, but won't cost as much as a more thorough survey.

When you buy a house, you take on a reasonable amount of risk. For example, you may buy a property only to later discover underlying structural issues that are going to cost you a big chunk of money in future repairs. Getting a RICS Homebuyers Survey completed on any potential property you may purchase will remove a huge amount of this risk.

A homebuyers survey can take 2-4 hours to complete. Although some of the issues that surveyors uncover may not be of a huge concern, 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. In this guide, Compare My Move will explain the Homebuyers Survey to help you with your research.

This article will cover the following:
  1. What is a Homebuyers Survey?
  2. What Type of Property is it for?
  3. What's Covered in a RICS HomeBuyers Report?
  4. How Much Does A Homebuyers Survey Cost?
  5. How Long Does A Homebuyers Survey Take?
  6. What Does A Homebuyers Report Look Like?
  7. Pros & Cons: Homebuyers, Building Survey & Valuation
  8. Is a Homebuyers Survey Worth It?
  9. Getting a Homebuyers Survey Quotes

What is a Homebuyers Survey?

The Homebuyers Survey will include a thorough external and internal inspection of the property, resulting in a report which provides an overview of the properties condition. The surveyor will inspect all the visible and accessible areas of the property including walls, cellars, floors, windows, doors, roofs, garages and more. The Homebuyers survey must be factored into the total cost of buying a house so you are fully prepared.

This will be confirmed in their terms and conditions to you once you have confirmed you would like to proceed. The surveyor can take your specific concerns into consideration and can pay particular attention to those worrisome areas - this will then be reflected in their report.

Your surveyor's Homebuyers report will come back 3-5 working days after the inspection, likely via e-mail. Although in some cases you may receive it via the post if you request this but you may be charged extra. Specifically, your surveyor will look at areas including:

  • Internally: Woodworm and rot, dampness and condensation, ceilings, walls and
  • floors, chimney breasts and joinery
  • Externally: Roof, chimneys, gutters, main walls, windows and doors, drainage and boundaries
  • Scoring System: Red, Amber, Green
  • Roof space: Full inspection of the roof
  • Garages
  • Conservatories
  • Tenure
  • Services
  • Valuation and Insurance

It's now possible for surveying firms to conduct a Homebuyers Survey and Valuation but it should be noted that it's possible to only have the one. Requesting only the one may be a cheaper option and is suitable if you're having a valuation carried out by your mortgage provider. This is, however, subject to the firm's service offering.

What Type of Property is the Homebuyers Survey for?

A Homebuyers Survey can be used for any type of property, from a standalone house to a flat. 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.

For this reason, 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. For higher risk properties, it's worth using a more comprehensive survey that will give you a better idea of any costly or potentially costly issues within the building.

For new builds or nearly new builds, there's a possibility that a Homebuyers Report is not required, this is especially true of new builds that are still under warranty. However, in these cases it is worth paying particular attention to the warranty and what it covers. For example, some areas such as damp and condensation are not always fully covered as part of the agreement and so it may be worth getting it checked. The alternative survey for a new build property is a Snagging List

What's Covered in a RICS HomeBuyers Report?

When the survey is undertaken, your surveyor will be looking at a number of specific areas that often contain common issues in the majority of buildings. Any indicators of potential concern will be noted and included in the report for you to read. It'll also include background information on the property and location. Most Homebuyers Reports are sent via email, although some are sent via post.

Structurally, the surveyor will look at the condition of the insulation and damp-proofing as well as testing for any current signs of damp. If damp is flagged in your report, you can arrange for a Damp Survey to gain a deeper understanding of the issue. They will also look at drainage (although they will not look specifically at the drains), signs of rot or woodworm and also potential threats to the structure. Any urgent or major faults that need immediate attention or may negatively impact the value of the property will be flagged.

The report will outline details of the findings of the survey and also the desk research undertaken by the surveyors. If you opted for a survey and valuation, then this will also include a current valuation of the property. The Homebuyers Survey will also take into consideration an estimate for the cost of rebuilding the property, this is particularly important for insurance purposes where you will need to provide this figure to gain full cover.

What is covered in a homebuyer report

How Much Does A Homebuyers Survey Cost?

The price of a Homebuyers Survey starts from around £350 for properties worth up to £99,000. Though the cost of a Homebuyer Survey will vary depending on the size of the property as well as other factors, it typically costs around £500 for a house priced between £100,000 and £249,000. 

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. To know when you need a surveyor as well as factoring in the other costs of moving home, you should use a moving checklist to help.

We've put together the average cost of a Homebuyers Survey for a range of property prices. 

Property PriceAvg. Cost of HomeBuyers Survey
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


Don't forget to use Compare My Move to compare surveying quotes and find the best company for you and your personal budget.

How Long Does A Homebuyers Survey Take?

A Homebuyers Survey will take between 2-4 hours to complete, with a 3-5 working day wait for the report to be produced. In contrast, a building survey could take as long as 8 hours. When it comes to your Homebuyers Report 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 as it can help you plan for your overall move. 

1. Booking the survey

Usually buyers get a Homebuyers Survey completed after they have had an offer accepted. For this reason, you should start getting quotes as soon as possible. This is because of the upfront cost of a survey and the fact that this can be wasted money if you're unable to find a price that both yourself and the seller are happy with. 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 Homebuyers Survey take?

In most cases, 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.

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. When will I receive my report?

Once the survey has been completed it's likely to take around 3-5 working days for your Homebuyers Report to be produced and delivered. This can vary based on the size and condition of the building as well as how busy the surveyor is.

What Does A Homebuyers Report Look Like?

Since the report was updated, a new traffic light system has been adopted. It's 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. As the name suggests, the traffic light system works based on three colours: red, amber and green. RICS have shared an example of what a homebuyers survey report looks like.  

Green refers to ‘Condition Rating 1’ and indicates that the area referenced needs no repairs and has no area of concern, these should continue to be maintained in a similar way to previously.

Amber refers to ‘Condition Rating 2’ and highlights areas with defects that need repairing or replacing but are not considered as urgent. These areas are unlikely to impact the overall value of the property but are likely to need some maintenance or repair in time.

Red refers to ‘Condition Rating 3’ and highlights defects that are in need of urgent or series repair, need to be replaced or investigated immediately. These are the areas that should be seriously considered as part of the overall purchase. They may be areas that make the purchase void, or they may be areas that warrant re-negotiation based on potential repair cost.

Wondering what to do if you get a report filled with red? You can plan your response with our guide to dealing with bad survey results.

traffic light system for homebuyers report

Pros & Cons: Homebuyers, Building Survey & Valuation

When you're buying your new home, there may be some confusion over which type of survey you need or should get. Typically, surveys come under three categories; Valuations, Homebuyers Survey and Buildings Survey. Each have pros and cons depending on your situation, we cover some of these below.

Homebuyers SurveyBuilding SurveyValuation

Pros

  • Excellent for the majority of homes.
  • Highlights most common areas of concern based on the general condition of the building.
  • Relatively low cost compared to the building survey.
  • Excellent for older homes, those that may have structural issues or are built in an unconventional way.
  • Comprehensive and thorough survey with a hands on approach
  • Assesses difficult to reach areas.
  • Can include projected costing and timelines for any repairs.
  • Useful if you plan to convert or extend a property.
  • Useful in helping you secure a mortgage on the property.
  • Helps you ensure you are not paying over the odds for the property.

Cons

  • Only areas that are easily accessible are surveyed.
  • Areas such as drains and under carpets are not assessed.
  • Dependent on the size of the property, it can take up to a day to complete.
  • The most expensive type of survey.
  • Gives no details on the condition of the property or any potential issues that may be faced.


To properly understand your survey options, we've put together detailed guides on what is a Full Structural Survey and what is a Valuation Survey. We've also explained the Snagging List for new build buyers and produced a guide on Listed building surveys for old and historic properties. If your new property is based in Scotland, read our guide on The Home Report to get better informed.

Is a Homebuyers Survey Worth It?

So, a Homebuyers Survey, is it worth it? Generally speaking, yes, but the decision is yours to make. It's always recommended to get a property survey conducted whenever buying or selling a property as it's vital you know the property's condition. As shown above, there are a variety of positives to having a Homebuyers Report.

Research conducted by The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) highlights the importance of property surveys as 1 in 5 property buyers who did not have a property survey conducted, later found faults throughout the building. 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 conducted, you can be made aware of these issues and potential costs much earlier on. 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. Research conducted by the Consumers’ Association, Which? in 2016 discovered that 67% of homeowners who had a property survey conducted were successfully able to either negotiate a lower price or get the seller to fix the issues before completion - so it's worth having the evidence on hand. 

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.

A Homebuyers Report is also worth it for the seller too. If the buyer presents you with negative results from their survey and wants to lower the asking price, then you need something to compare to. You need to hire your own trusted surveyor to confirm and compare the report with, ensuring that you can justify lowering the price. 

Getting a Homebuyers Survey Quotes

We hope this guide has helped you understand what a Homebuyers Survey is and that you're fully informed on your surveying needs. When the time comes, you can use Compare My Move to compare and save on your surveying costs by comparing the best and most respected surveyors in the UK. Our surveyor partners are RICS accredited and come fully verified: just fill in a quick and easy form and save on your surveying today.

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.

Garrett O'Hanlon

Reviewed by Garrett O'Hanlon

MRICS Director, MAP Chartered Surveyors and Homescore

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