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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 23rd Aug 2022) 5 minute read

The buyer will arrange a property survey once their offer has been accepted.

However, organising a home survey is not just limited to the buyer. If another party within the transaction wants to request a survey, they can also arrange one with their own independent surveyor.

This article will cover the following:
  1. Why Should You Arrange a House Survey?
  2. Who Pays for the Survey When Buying a House?
  3. The Different Types of House Surveys Available
  4. Do Mortgage Lenders Arrange Surveys?
  5. Does the Seller Get a Copy of the Survey?
  6. Organising a Property Survey in Scotland
  7. Learn More About Surveying

Why Should You Arrange a House Survey?

Organising a survey is an important way to determine whether the property is worth the asking price.

The findings presented in the report can greatly affect a buyer's decision, especially if issues are found that could result in costly repair work. It's a way to determine whether the buyer should re-negotiate the asking price, ensuring the property is a worthy investment.

However, home surveys are also beneficial to sellers. By organising their own property survey, a seller can use the report to compare results. They can then work with the buyer until all parties are in agreement or walk away from the sale.

A seller can also arrange a 'vendor's survey' to share with potential buyers. This is especially helpful when a property is being sold at an auction or when you're participating in a sealed bid.

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Who Pays for the Survey When Buying a House?

Whoever is organising the survey is usually the one who pays for it.

The average UK house survey cost is between £290 and £1,390, depending on the property size and survey type.

If you’re applying for a mortgage, your lender will request a Mortgage Valuation. Whilst the lender will commission the report, it’s usually paid for by you. A valuation is not a home survey and does not provide an in-depth examination of the building.

Instead of paying for the valuation alone, most buyers arrange a Home Survey Level 2 as it includes a detailed inspection and a valuation if requested. It will be carried out by a chartered surveyor who will be trained in finding and diagnosing building problems. This option will provide you with more for your money, highlighting issues that may help you re-negotiate the asking price.

Always remember to compare surveyors as it can reduce your surveying costs and help you find the right professional for the level of survey you want. To help you in your search, you can use Compare My Move’s free online service to connect you with up to 6 professional RICS chartered surveyors.

The Different Types of House Surveys Available

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 costs down.

The Condition Report is suitable for modern, conventional homes which are in good condition. It does not include a valuation, but this can sometimes be added.

Homebuyers Survey (Level 2)

The Homebuyers Survey (Level 2) is intended for fairly modern, conventional properties which are in reasonable repair. It’s a common survey type that will highlight major damage and advise whether 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.

Building Survey (Level 3)

The Building Survey (Level 3) 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. It should also give advice for any future maintenance and repairs.

It does not include a valuation, but this can often be added. For a more thorough comparison, read homebuyers report vs building survey.

To learn more, read RICS Home Survey Standard.

Do Mortgage Lenders Arrange Surveys?

Mortgage lenders do not typically organise house surveys, but they will require a valuation.

If you’re purchasing the property with a mortgage, then a valuation is usually required to tell the lender that the property is worth the agreed price. A mortgage valuation is not a property survey.

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. It must be carried out by a RICS registered valuer who might not be a professional surveyor and is less experienced in finding defects. This is why you should also arrange a home survey.

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Does the Seller Get a Copy of the Survey?

In England and Wales, the seller will not see a copy of the report unless the buyer chooses to disclose the results with them. The surveyor cannot discuss the report or its contents with the seller without the buyer's consent.

If the buyer receives bad survey results, they might use it as a way to re-negotiate the sale price. However, they do not have to show the seller the document.

If the seller believes the buyer is being unreasonable, they can refuse to sell at any price or on any terms. They can also organise their own property survey and work with their surveyor and estate agent to resolve the issues found.

In Scotland, as the seller will have to organise the property survey, they will receive a copy of the report. They must add this document to their Home Report which will then be available to all potential buyers.

Organising a Property Survey in Scotland

The process of buying a house in Scotland is 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 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 (Level 3). 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 to pay for a Mortgage Valuation by their mortgage lenders. If the lender deems the Home Report’s valuation as reliable, then they might use this instead. The buyer also has the option of arranging their own survey.

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Learn More About Surveying

This article is part of our guide to surveying. In our next article, we take a look at what types of surveys are available. To learn more read: House Surveys - What Type of Survey Do I Need?

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, Cambridge Building Surveyors

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