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What is a Homebuyers Survey Report?

Owain Banfield
Written by Owain Banfield
6th April 2018 (Last updated on Monday 19th November 2018)

A Homebuyers Survey is the most common type of property survey and can be used for all types of property. It will flag major issues with your property, but won't cost as much as a deeper survey.

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

Although some issues that a property survey will uncover may not be of a huge concern when purchasing a property, having that information to hand will put you in a much better position to negotiate on price and terms as you will know the future hassle and cost of buying that property. In this guide, Compare My Move explain the Homebuyers Survey.

This article will cover the following points

Homebuyers Survey Explained What Type of Property is it for? Whats covered in a RICS HomeBuyers Report? How Much Does A Homebuyers Survey Cost? How Long Does A Homebuyers Survey Take? What Does A HomeBuyers Report Look Like? How Do You Read the HomeBuyers Report? Pros & Cons: Homebuyers, Building Survey & Building Survey Getting a HomeBuyers Survey Quotes

Homebuyers Survey Explained

Typically provided or accredited by the Royal Institution of Charted Surveyors (RICS), a Homebuyers Survey is what replaced the Home Buyer Survey & Valuation in March 2010. As part of this update surveyors are no longer required to deliver a valuation of the property, meaning that they do not have to be registered valuers in order to undertake the survey. This now gives the home buyer two options when it comes to getting a survey of this type, either a Homebuyers report with survey and a Homebuyers report with survey and valuation.

The major benefit of this survey is that it is easy for the consumer. This isn’t just due to the increased options available, but also because it has an easier to understand layout with information much easier to find via colour coding and energy efficiency considerations. The survey can also only be carried out by a RICS certified professionals, to give consumers peace of mind that their report is comprehensive and considers the areas that are most important.

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 is the most popular type of survey for home buyers as it goes deep enough to highlight any major issues, but doesn’t cost as much as a very detailed report.

For this reason, it is best suited for buildings that do not have any obvious issues or buildings that are not of high risk of hidden damage such as old or period properties. For higher risk properties, it is worth using a much deeper survey that will give you a better idea of any costly or potentially costly issues with the building.

For new builds or nearly new builds there is 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 this agreement and it may be worth getting it checked.

Whats covered in a RICS HomeBuyers Report?

When the survey is undertaken, the surveyor will be looking at a number of specific areas that are common issues in most average buildings. These areas will be observed by the surveyor and any areas of concern or any indicators of potential concern will be noted and included in the report that you will receive.  

Structurally, the surveyor will look at areas such as the condition of insulation and damp-proofing as well as testing for any signs of damp currently in the building. They will also look at drainage, although they will not look specifically at the drains. They will also look at whether there are any signs of rot or woodworm that may be current or potential threats to the structure. The surveyor will also look at any urgent or major faults that need attention immediately or that may negatively impact the overall value of the property.

It is worth noting that the surveyor will not lift any carpets or check the condition of the wiring in the property. This is why older properties or properties that are clearly in a bad condition should undergo a much more thorough survey.

The surveyor will also undertake some desk research away from the property, which we will cover in more detail later in this guide.

For further reading, check out our guide on common issues found by property surveys.

How Much Does A Homebuyers Survey Cost?

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

Like most aspects of moving home, it is always worth getting quotes from surveyors in order to get the best price for yours. However, when doing this it is important to make sure that all those contacted are established and RICS regulated.

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 £99,000£350
£100,000 - £249,000£500
£250,000 - £349,000£600
£350,000 - £499,000£700
£500,000 plus £950


Data from Which

How Long Does A Homebuyers Survey Take?

The actual Homebuyers Survey will take between 2 to 4 hours to complete, with a 3 to 5 working day wait for the report to be produced. When it comes to your Homebuyers Survey it is good to understand how much time it will take to undertake the survey as well as how long it will take to get the results in order to build these in to your overall plan for moving. 

1. Booking the survey

Usually purchasers get a Homebuyers Survey completed after they have had an offer accepted. This is because of the upfront cost of a survey and the fact that this can be wasted money if you are unable to find a price that both yourself and the seller are happy with.

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 is nothing to stop you to go back to the seller and attempt to negotiate on price based on the findings.

Once you have had an offer accepted you should seek to get a Homebuyers survey completed as soon as possible. For this reason, you should start getting quotes as soon as you possibly can. If there is somebody currently living in the property you will likely need to agree with them ahead of time when the survey will take place and book it in for then.

2. How long does a homebuyers survey take?

In most cases a Homebuyer Survey will take between 2-4 hours for the surveyor 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 is 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 of potential concern are left off the report.  

3. When will I receive my report?

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

What Does A HomeBuyers Report Look Like?

Your Homebuyers report will likely to be sent via email, although in some cases will be sent via post. It is written in plain English and is easy to understand, it is always worth reading the full report in order to make sure all concerns highlighted are understood.

The report will outline details of the findings of the survey and some desk research undertaken by the surveyors. If opting for a survey and valuation this will include a current valuation of the property as for the open market. In all cases it will also include background information on the property and the location. It 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 of your property.

It will also include the findings of the physical survey including an assessment of any damp-proofing, insulation or drainage in the building. As well as including any details of the condition of any structural timber with reference to woodworm or rot. Information on any damp or potential damp issues in the property and details of any major faults in easy to access areas of the property that may affect its value are also included. If damp is flagged in your report, you can arrange for a Damp survey to gain a deeper understanding of the issue.

How Do You Read the HomeBuyers Report?

Since the update of the report a new traffic light system for reading the report has been adopted. This has been done for consumers to understand exactly what the issues are, as well as the impact and severity of these issues and what needs fixing urgently. As the name suggests, the traffic light system works based on three colours red, amber and green. 

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 or serious. 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 urgently. Practically these areas are those 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 costs to fix these issues.

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.

Pros & Cons: Homebuyers, Building Survey & Building Survey

When you are 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 building survey.
  • Excellent for older homes, those that may have structural issues or are built in an unconventional way.
  • Comprehensive and thorough survey with hands on approach, access 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.
  • Often paid for by your mortgage provider.

Cons

  • Only areas that are easily accessible are surveyed.
  • Areas such as drains and under carpets are not accessed or 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 Building 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. So get reading and get informed.

Getting a HomeBuyers Survey Quotes

We hope this guide has helped you understand in detail what a Homebuyers Survey is, and that now 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.