Dream home or worst nightmare?

By Joe Arnold

Buying a home is an expensive experience and, as the costs start to add up, it can be tempting to cut corners. So, when you are offered the option of paying for a valuation or a little extra for a more comprehensive survey, the cheaper option may seem more attractive.

At this stage it is worth asking yourself, do you know exactly what you are buying? A property is one of the most expensive purchases you will ever make – so are you buying your dream home or your worst nightmare?

It is important to remember that a valuation report is for the mortgage lender’s purposes, not as a guide for you. It simply tells the lender that the asset is reasonable security for the loan – it doesn’t provide information on the condition of the property.

Research by ComRes for RICS found that, on average, homebuyers spend £5,750 on repairs once they have moved into a new home. For many homebuyers, these costs will be much higher.

Some of the costs of these repairs could have been avoided, or factored into price negotiations, if a RICS survey had been undertaken to inform the buyers of the actual condition of the property.

There are three main types of property survey: 


Condition Report

This is generally suitable for smaller and newer properties and serves as a valuable “MOT” for homeowners looking to assess the condition of their home.

It does not include a valuation but focuses purely on the condition of the property by giving ratings to the different parts of the building and flagging up any areas that need attention.



Homebuyer Report

The most popular report for buyers, this is an economic but detailed survey, suitable for most residential properties.

A Homebuyer Report can be purchased with or without a valuation and describes the condition of each element of the property, with comments on defects, advice on repairs and maintenance, and a summary of condition ratings.


Building Survey

Designed for larger, older, or unique properties and those in obvious disrepair.

This survey offers an extensive inspection of the property condition and gives detailed information about the structure and fabric of the property. It includes a description of visible defects and potential problems caused by hidden flaws and an outline of repair options.


When it comes to buying a home, a RICs survey will tell you the actual condition of the property with important information that can protect your investment. Choosing a survey instead of a valuation report may be extra expenditure during the homebuying process, but it'll be a sound investment and can help you to avoid expensive surprises after you’ve moved in and could prevent your dream home from becoming your worst nightmare.

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