Real estate buyers don’t understand the importance of survey, experts claim

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RICS survey in Wales not given significance

Property buyers in England and Wales are facing bills for thousands of pounds by failing to have a sufficient survey of their property before purchase, according to new research from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

A quarter of all homebuyers who only had a mortgage valuation report had to make unplanned building works to their property after purchase. On average, the bill for these works, such as damp proofing or repairing a roof, came to £1,818 but the cost can be much higher.

Home surveys help buyers make informed decisions on whether to go ahead with buying a property, before legally committing themselves. Despite their importance, many buyers remain confused about surveys.

RICS says that a mortgage valuation report is often wrongly assumed to be a building survey. ‘Actually, it is purely an indication of the property’s value for loan purposes, prepared for the lender, not the purchaser. Most importantly, it won’t uncover any potential problems,’ it points out.

When questioned, 58% of respondents wrongly believed a valuation report included the building’s condition, including searching for damp and structural movement. A further 31% were mistakenly under the impression it included advice on any legal issues a solicitor should investigate.

Even if you are paying for a mortgage valuation report, RICS still recommends you arrange a survey with your own surveyor. There are two options available; an RICS Homebuyer Report, which provides an inspection and report on the property’s condition, plus a valuation. A building survey is more detailed, and may be the best option if the property is in a bad state of repair, has been significantly altered, or if you are planning a major conversion or renovation.

A survey might just be able to help you get a better deal on your property, too. Some 76% of those questioned agreed that a more comprehensive survey could potentially allow you to negotiate a better deal with the seller.

‘In difficult economic times like this it makes sense to ensure you are getting the best possible value when purchasing a property. No one wants to find a nasty surprise down the line, or pay over the odds for a property that needs lots of work,’ said David Dalby, RICS residential director.

‘A survey not only gives you a price valuation, but also a detailed report of the state of the property. Armed with this information you are in a much stronger position to decide whether to proceed with the purchase, or negotiate a better deal,’ he added.

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