On the 29th April this year, RICS launched an industry and consumer consultation on proposals for a new Home Survey Standard.
As part of the review, RICS engaged extensively with members, industry stakeholders and established leaders’ forums to capture the views of lenders, consumers and other relevant sectors. It also conducted consumer research to identify what type of information consumers want to see in a condition survey.
The result of the review clearly identified the need for a professional statement. This is a set of mandatory requirements for all RICS members to ensure a consistent approach in serving the changing needs of the market and helping improve the home buying and selling process.
The professional statement is designed to significantly increase consistency, transparency and competency across all residential surveying in the UK. It will stand alone as the single standard for home surveys, replacing and harmonising previous practice notes, guidance notes and professional statements for all levels of condition surveys.
I have been closely involved with the consultation, and feedback from members has been positive. Most surveyors agree that something needs to be done to improve the client experience that RICS members provide to consumers and, in my opinion, the standard will deliver more clarity and more open communication that could potentially benefit every property transaction.
As part of the mandatory requirements, there is a clear framework that sets minimum expectations for members who deliver residential property surveys at all levels. These include:
Members to have a clear understanding of client needs and have the appropriate knowledge, skills and experience to provide the agreed service.
Member to address conflicts of interest, terms of engagement, document storage and retention, and the minimum expectations of reports.
Members to take all reasonable steps to ensure consumers are advised on the range of options they can offer and ensure they understand the differences between the levels of service including the extent and limitations of each option.
Members to benchmark their services clearly against the defined levels as a minimum, and any variations to be clearly highlighted in accordance with client requirements and instructions.
Members to be familiar with the subject property and area in which it is located, carry out appropriate pre-inspection research, inspect in accordance with the benchmark, only recommend justifiable further investigation and to be very clear in the report about the scope of inspection including limitations, caveats and actions available to the client.
Members to deliver a property specific, clear report to the client properly reflecting the acquired information.
At Arnold & Baldwin, we are already working with existing technology companies and new entrants, like Airbus, to develop tools in line with the new standard. We recognise that our clients need to be able to utilise all of the datasets available on a property and that new tools, such as Geospatial technology, will be instrumental in delivering more comprehensive information.
The future of residential surveying is extremely exciting. Our sector is currently under the microscope as Government and industry seek ways to modernise the home buying and selling process, and this new standard is here to facilitate change.
RICS will also be developing tools and materials for members to provide support and ensure consistency and high service standards for consumers. These will be introduced alongside new redesigned report forms and consumer-friendly content. These updated materials will offer clearer guidance to consumers, whether they are buying, selling, or letting their home.
The professional statement will be published on the 18th November 2019 and will become effective in May 2020. RICS will be having a launch event to coincide with the publication and members are invited to attend.