When you are moving to or within Scotland things work a little bit differently in terms of purchasing and moving into your new house. Many of these differences appear in the initial phases of purchasing a house such as how you make an offer and how that offer is accepted. However, these also appear in the process of how a survey is conducted.
In the majority of the UK, property surveys are undertaken by the buyer at their discretion and to a level to which they choose is suitable. In contrast, in Scotland the seller is responsible for undertaking a survey before the purchase can go ahead. This is also not at the seller’s discretion, but is required by law in order to allow them to sell the home. So what exactly is the Home Report?
A Home Report in Scotland does exactly what it says on the tin, it gives details on the home in a number of ways which are useful to those that are looking to buy a property. It is made up of three main elements including:
These details are collected on behalf of the seller in order to provide potential buyers with details and any potential concerns with the overall property. Below we go through the various elements that make up the Home Report, what they tell you and why this information is so useful.
An Energy Performance Certificate (more commonly known as an EPC) is a requirement on all homes in the United Kingdom. As the name suggests this certificate gives details about how well your home uses and conserves energy. This is given in a rating which is both lettered and colour coded, with A (light green) being extremely efficient, down to G (dark red) being extremely inefficient.
The certificate is useful in two ways. Firstly, it allows you to understand exactly how well the property being sold uses energy. This will give you an indicator of the sort of costs you will likely experience on things like electricity and gas. The certificate also indicates what the rating might be if improvements such as draft excluders, double glazing and improved insulation were to be applied. This will give you an idea of what you may need to budget for if moving into a property that needs some improvement.
The single survey looks at many of the element that you may expect to see in a Homebuyers survey. This looks at the overall structure of the building and any potential issues that may be of some concern to the purchaser.
These areas include an overall assessment of the condition of the home, with notes on areas such as the external and internal walls, the roof, and any kitchen fittings and plumbing. It will also include considerations on the value of the property which is very useful both in making sure that you are getting a good deal on the property and also because it can help you secure a mortgage for the amount you desire to borrow. Finally, this will also include considerations for any required accessibility to the property given special circumstances.
The property questionnaire element of the report will give further details on the property that are generally collected via desk research rather than during the physical survey.
The information that will be included can cover areas such as what the purchaser should expect to pay in terms of council tax once they move into the property. It will also take into consideration any parking arrangements that have been made, this is useful as it allows you to judge the suitability based on your current approach to transport and whether any further arrangements or changes need to be made.
The report will also detail any alterations which may be been made to the property over time. These may include any extensions or renovations, both which have been made with planning permission and those cases where permission has not been sought. This information will allow you to understand whether there is any associated risk with the purchase.
Finally, this section will also lay out any other costs that are associated with the property. For example, this will highlight whether there is any ground rent on leasehold properties or whether there are any charges for upkeep on communal areas.
Although it is law that sellers need to produce a Home Report, it is up to the buyer as to whether they want to take that information on board or have their own survey completed. In the case of older homes over 50 years old or where the Home Report has produced a number of potential issues the buyer may opt for a deeper survey such as a Full Structural Survey.
This type of survey will give many more details on the building and its conditions. Where a Home Report will look at the overarching and ‘obvious’ issues with a home, a full structural survey will dive much deeper into the hidden and less accessible areas of the home that are of particular concern.
For example, it is unlikely during the process of a Home Report that the surveyor will do things like lift carpets and floor boards and go deep into the drainage to check for underlying issues that are either a threat now or may develop into threats in the near future. Those looking to buy a historically significant house or listed property should opt for the specialist Listed Building Survey.
If you are selling your home in Scotland, you will need to produce a Home Report for your property. If you fail to do this or do it in the wrong way you may be fined up to £500 for not complying to these regulations. It is important then to get this done by the right professional in the right way.
Below we give some tips and considerations for undertaking your own Home Report on your Scottish property.
Your survey will need to be undertaken by a surveyor who is accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. This will ensure a professional approach to the survey as well as making sure that the survey ticks all the boxes required by the Scottish government.
If you are working with a selling agent, such as solicitor or estate agent, then they should be able to organise the Home Report on your behalf. However, if you have not taken this route then you will need to ensure that you find a well-qualified and respected surveyor to undertake the survey for you.
The cost of home reports varies, but will cost between £350 and £400 for an average priced house of between £100,000 and £200,000. This will vary based on the size and value of the property you are selling. As larger or more expensive properties tend to take much longer to survey, they will generally cost more to undertake.
Once you have had your home report written up, you must then put your property on the market within 12 weeks. This is important as after this time period the report will no longer be considered accurate and you will have to pay out for the property to surveyed again.
It is quite normal for the report to highlight some issues, especially in the case that your property is older than 50 years. It is the severity of these issues that may be some cause for concern. We've put together a guide explaining a range of common issues highlighted by surveys, and the costs involved in fixing them.
In the case that your property has significant issues, you will need to plan your next steps. The one major benefit to this process in comparison to the rest of the UK is that you are taking your property to market knowing for the most part what the issues are with it.
Getting quotes on how much the major issues will take to remedy before putting your house on the market will allow you to price accordingly, letting those that make an offer know that they will be responsible for fixing them once they move. Alternatively, you may want to get the issues fixed before putting your house on the market. However, in this case you will gain an added expense of having your property resurveyed to prove the work has been done. You can find out more with our guide about dealing with the results of a bad survey.
We hope this guide has explained The Home Report in Scotland, so you're fully prepared to buy or sell your Scottish home. If you need any extra surveys on top of the Home Report, remember to use Compare My Move to save time and money on survey costs by being connected with up to 5 RICS accredited surveyors. Just fill in a simple form and start saving on your survey today.