As part of its commitment to promoting and enforcing high standards, RICS has launched its Home Survey Standard, which will become the mandatory best practice benchmark on 1st June 2020. Firms can introduce the new standard in advance of this date, but 1st June is the point at which they become enforceable.
RICS says that the new standard will enable adoptees to demonstrate consistency, deliver the highest quality of service, meet evolving consumer needs and contribute to delivering greater trust in the home survey market across the UK. Adding that the concise mandatory requirement will establish a single standard for condition-based home surveys and new benchmarks around which firms can design and deliver services that not only meet their clients' needs but that the public can recognise and trust.
But, what does this mean in practice?
I was first invited by RICS to join the consultation in September 2016 and as one of only two SMEs asked to take part in the process, I have been closely involved throughout its development. This has given me a unique insight as to why this new Home Survey Standard is so important, not just for surveyors, but for all businesses and individuals who are involved in the buying and selling of homes.
The fundamental difference with the new standard is that it facilitates and promotes improved communication between a homebuyer and their surveyor, with benchmarks that embrace new technologies and media which will make it so much easier for everyday homebuyers to understand the results of their survey. The standard puts more responsibility on a surveyor to be clearer about their observations and recommendations, which means that a survey will include fewer caveats and assumptions.
This is a really key change that will help develop increased trust between homebuyers and their surveyors which should naturally lead to increased confidence, and this is likely to result in fewer aborted transactions. A well-managed and well-communicated survey can actually help to hold a deal together, showing that there is nothing to hide when it comes to the condition of the property.
Increasingly lenders are turning to automated valuations based on statistical trends as a way of cutting costs and so often in these transactions no surveyor enters the building to inspect the actual condition of the property. In this situation, whose responsibility is it to ensure that the buyer has fully considered the undertaking that they are entering?
The new RICS Home Survey Standard will improve the accessibility and quality of information that homebuyers receive when they commission a survey and so should encourage more buyers to have more confidence as to the value of the survey.
At Arnold & Baldwin, we will be introducing new home surveys that meet and exceed the standard, well in advance of the deadline, but we are doing so much more than that. We are investing in CPD seminars and free training for brokers, estate agents and conveyancers to help build a greater understanding of a survey and what the results mean to a buyer. It is this partnership approach across different industries that has led to the development of the fantastic new Home Survey Standard, and it’s this partnership approach that will help to advance the home buying process.