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Who Organises a Survey When Buying a House?

Zenyx Griffiths

Written by Reviewed by Mike Ashton

29th Nov 2019 (Last updated on 12th Mar 2021) 6 minute read

For most purchases in the UK, it’s usually up to the buyer to arrange their own property survey if they are thinking of buying a house

Buying a new property, whether you're a first-time buyer or a previous homeowner, is a significant change. It's an important financial transaction and it's crucial that you find the right property for you and your budget. An independent property survey is usually recommended, as it can help you decide whether the building is a worthy investment. But, if you’re a first-time buyer, you may be wondering who actually organises a survey in the first place? 

Compare My Move is here to help. To clear up any confusion and help you along the way, we’ve created this useful guide to explain who organises a survey when you're thinking of buying a property. From the various types of surveys available to who must pay, we’ve explored the vital questions to prepare you for when you’re ready to compare surveyors, making the process as easy as possible.

This article will cover the following:
  1. Who Organises a Property Survey?
  2. The Different Types of Property Surveys Available
  3. Who Pays for the Survey When Buying a House?
  4. Organising a Property Survey in Scotland
  5. Learn More About Surveying

Who Organises a Property Survey?

Having a property survey is an important part of buying a flat or a house, as it can help the buyer determine whether the property is worth the offered price, and understand whether any major maintenance or repairs are likely to be needed. Typically, whoever requests the survey is the one who must arrange it. In most cases, the buyer will arrange a property survey once their offer has been accepted. It’s an important way to determine whether it’s worth the asking price. It's also vital to factor in when budgeting the total cost of buying a house.

If you’re purchasing the property with a mortgage, then a simple valuation report is usually required to confirm its value and tell the lender that the property is worth the agreed price. A mortgage valuation is not a property survey, and is mainly concerned with deciding the property’s value, as well as it’s overall condition and any major risks or repairs. Its purpose is to satisfy the lender that they can sell the house and recover their loan if you don’t keep up the repayments, not necessarily to find any defects or building problems, which might be reflected in the asking price. It must be carried out by a RICS registered valuer, who might not be a professional building surveyor, and who is often less experienced in finding and diagnosing building defects.

A seller can arrange a 'vendor's survey' to share with potential buyers. This is helpful, for example, where a property will be sold at auction and the survey report can be circulated to potential bidders before the auction day. If you're participating in a sealed bid to obtain a property, this will be a type of auction where a vendor survey will be useful. Regardless of whether the seller provides a property survey, it’s still recommended that the buyer arranges their own independent report, as the findings could affect their final decision, and the amount they're willing to pay. Bad survey results could be used to renegotiate the house price, or convince the buyer to pull out of the sale altogether, saving them from future problems and expenses.

The Different Types of Property Surveys Available

To help you find the right surveyor for you, we’ve included a list of the main types of property surveys available, and when they should be used. It’s not only important to know who organises a survey, but also which type is most appropriate. There are three levels of surveys to consider: 

  • Condition Report (Level 1) - The Home Condition Report provides a basic overview of a property’s condition and the main risks it might contain. It's the cheapest level available and uses a standardised format to help keep the cost down. The Condition Report is suitable for modern, conventional homes which are in fairly good condition. It does not include a valuation, but this can sometimes be added as a further service.
  • Homebuyers Survey (Level 2) - The Homebuyers Survey is perhaps the most common and is intended for fairly modern, conventional properties which are mostly in reasonable repair. It will highlight any major damage or risks and will advise if any future repairs might be needed. This report also uses a standard reporting format and will tend to focus on key risks and concerns. The Homebuyers Survey report usually includes a market valuation and an insurance valuation, but can be provided without these if you prefer.
  • Building Survey (Level 3) - This is the most detailed and expensive type of survey. It’s intended for builders which are older, unusual, in poor condition, or have been significantly altered. It will describe the type of construction and any key concerns or structural issues, and should give advice for any future maintenance and repairs. It does not include a valuation, but this can often be added as a further service if required.

Who Pays for the Survey When Buying a House?

Whoever is organising the survey is usually the one who pays for it. Never be afraid to shop around and compare surveyors, as it can often reduce your surveying costs and help you find a surveyor who you're happy is right for the level of survey you want. To help you in your search, you can receive instant quotes with Compare My Move, connecting you with to 5 professional RICS chartered surveyors immediately. 

If you’re using a mortgage to pay for the property, your lender will request a Mortgage Valuation before confirming the contract with you. The mortgage lender will commission the valuation report, but it’s usually paid for by you. The lender will hire a registered valuer and will then receive the report. 

Buyers may want to consider having a Homebuyer’s Survey carried out as well, which can include a valuation, and is a much more detailed inspection of the property and will be carried out by a chartered surveyor who is trained in finding and diagnosing building problems. The mortgage lender can often provide these, but it is often a good idea to shop around and get your own independent survey arranged instead.

Organising a Property Survey in Scotland

It’s important to note that the process of buying a house in Scotland is slightly different compared to the rest of the UK. In Scotland, it’s not the buyer who must arrange the survey, but the seller. It’s the seller’s responsibility to arrange a Home Report to present to the buyer before the purchase can even go ahead. 

A Home Report provides potential buyers with a range of details about the property. One element included is a Single Survey, which is very similar to a Homebuyers Report. If you’re buying a home in Scotland then the seller is required to provide you with a Home Report. If they don't, they could be fined for not complying with regulations. Buyers should request to view this as soon as possible. Preferably after viewing the house, as it will highlight any issues or obvious damage. 

Unless it’s included in the Home Report, buyers in Scotland will still be required by their mortgage lenders to pay for a Mortgage Valuation. If the lender deems the Home Report’s valuation as reliable, then they might use this to continue with the process instead. The buyer also has the option of arranging their own survey, for example, if they would prefer an independent or a more detailed analysis than the Home Report’s results.

Learn More About Surveying

This article is part of our guide to surveying. In our next article, we take a look at the common issues that are highlighted in a survey. To learn more read what are common house survey problems.

Zenyx Griffiths

Before Compare My Move, Zenyx once wrote lifestyle and entertainment articles for the online magazine, Society19 as well as news articles for Ffotogallery.

Mike Ashton

Reviewed by Mike Ashton

Director at Cambridge Building Surveyors , Cambridge Building Surveyors

With over 20 years of experience in the property surveying industry, Mike Ashton is now the director at Cambridge Building Surveyors.