Compare and Save on Your Homebuyers Survey

Speak to a RICS Surveyor and save up to 70% today!

Compare My Move Fact-Checking Standards

The Compare My Move team follows strict guidelines to ensure that every piece of content is accurate, trust-worthy and adheres to the highest standard of quality. Each article is expertly reviewed by members of our author panel before being published to promote accurate and quality content.

All Compare My Move articles adhere to the following standards:

  • Expertly reviewed - Our articles are reviewed by an industry expert with in-depth knowledge and experience of the article topic.
  • Data supported - All statistics, research and data must link or reference to the original source.
  • Accuracy - All research and data are taken from high-quality, trustworthy and authoritative sources.
  • Quality checked - Our content writers ensure every Compare My Move article is written to the highest of standard.

What is a Homebuyers Survey?

Written by Reviewed by Graham Stephenson

18th Nov 2019 (Last updated on 13th Nov 2020) 10 minute read

A homebuyers survey, sometimes called a homebuyers report, is the most common type of property survey available and can be used on many different property types. 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 RICS homebuyers survey completed on the house you’re buying will remove a huge amount of risk. Although some of the issues that surveyors uncover may not be of 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.

Compare My Move work with property experts to bring you the most accurate and detailed moving house advice. In this guide, Compare My Move will explain everything you need to know about the homebuyers survey to help when you’re buying a house. 

This article will cover the following:
  1. What Does A Homebuyers Survey Cover?
  2. When Do You Need A Homebuyers Survey?
  3. How Much Is A Homebuyers Survey?
  4. What Do Surveyors Look for in a Homebuyers Survey?
  5. What Does A Homebuyers Report Look Like?
  6. How Long Does A Homebuyers Survey Take?
  7. Is a Homebuyers Survey Worth It?
  8. What is the Difference Between a Homebuyers Survey and a Building Survey?
  9. Getting a Homebuyers Survey Quote

What Does A Homebuyers Survey Cover?

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 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 homebuyers survey will cover the following points:

Internally:

  • Woodworm and rot
  • Dampness and condensation
  • Ceilings
  • Walls and floors
  • Chimney breasts and joinery

Externally:

  • Roof space: Full inspection of the roof
  • Chimneys
  • Gutters
  • Main walls
  • Windows and doors
  • Drainage and boundaries

Other:

  • Garages
  • Conservatories
  • Tenure
  • Services
What is covered in a homebuyer report

When Do You Need A Homebuyers Survey?

A homebuyers survey can be used for most types 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 such as the building survey that will give you a better idea of any costly or potentially costly issues within the building.

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

For new builds or nearly new builds, there's a possibility that a homebuyers survey 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.

How Much Is A Homebuyers Survey?

The UK average cost of a homebuyers survey 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. 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.  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 Do Surveyors Look for in a Homebuyers Survey?

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. 

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. 

Your property surveyor 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 Does A Homebuyers Report Look Like?

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

Green

Condition Rating 1

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

Amber

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.

Red

Condition Rating 3

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

NI

Not Inspected

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

traffic light system for homebuyers report

How Long Does A Homebuyers Survey 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.

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?

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.

Is a Homebuyers Survey Worth It?

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 Homebuyers Survey 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, we cover some of these below.

Homebuyers SurveyBuilding Survey

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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.

Getting a Homebuyers Survey Quote

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.

Graham Stephenson

Reviewed by Graham Stephenson

MRICS Director, MAP Chartered Surveyors

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