Getting a survey from independent chartered surveyors is a vital way to protect yourself and your investment when buying a home. Yet it’s a precaution that too many buyers overlook – in some cases wrongly assuming that a valuation by their lender will be enough for their needs.
It’s important to realise at the outset that many surveys are not carried out independently. Often banks or mortgage lenders insist that you use someone from their approved panel of surveyors. This is because, from a lender standpoint, they want to ensure they have confidence in the information that comes back from a survey, and so want to use a surveyor they know and trust.
However, while this might make sense for the lender, it may not make so much sense for you, the buyer, as you prepare to make one of the largest investments of your life. If the bank takes these steps to protect its interests, then so should you. You need to ensure that you have access to a full independent study of the condition of your prospective home, before you decide to go ahead with the purchase.
A lender valuation alone is not adequate for a buyer’s needs, because it won’t look at the building in detail, but just say whether the property is suitable security for the lender’s money and is mortgageable. While it will check the basic condition of the house, this won’t be enough for you to make a properly informed decision about whether to buy. You may have little comeback if a major problem is later found, because you have been given no guarantee of a comprehensive building survey.
Another point to consider is that a surveyor carrying out a valuation for the lender is working for them, rather than you, even though you will usually be the one paying the bill. It is therefore highly recommended that you engage your own chartered surveyor to carry out an independent survey on your behalf, in addition to any valuation survey that a mortgage lender may require. While this will obviously mean some outlay now, it is a wise investment that could save you money in the long run.
If you choose an independent chartered building surveyor, they will be working for you and not for the lender. This means you will have confidence that they are acting in your interests and not being influenced by the interests of a third party.
One major advantage is that you are able to have direct access to the surveyor before the survey. This enables you to alert them to any specific areas of concern you may have noticed when viewing the property yourself, so that they can look into this in more detail while surveying the property.
In addition, you can also have direct access to the surveyor after the survey. This enables you to discuss with the surveyor the findings of the report and any possible implications, such as the likely cost or length of time associated with any repair work. You can also get their professional opinion about the severity of any issues found.
This means that you get more than a report, because you will have access to a qualified professional to talk to about specific issues. This will help you to make a more informed decision about your possible investment. Rather than having just a general overview of the house’s value, you will be going into the purchase aware of any costs you are likely to face to repair the property once it is yours in the short medium and longer term. In some cases it may also be possible to negotiate an adjustment to the purchase price,to cover some or all of these associated costs.
One option is to arrange a Home Buyer Survey and Valuation, which gives a lot more information than the basic valuation. In this instance, the surveyor is working for you rather than for the lender. Using a ‘pro-forma’ template designed by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. This type of survey highlights any major defects with the house. However, it doesn’t give you full information about the house.
At Anderson, we instead recommend a Full Building Survey, which we supply at exactly the same price as the Home Buyer Survey, meaning it is far better value for money. This is a significantly more extensive survey, giving a detailed report on the condition of the property and listing all defects found, so that you can make a more informed decision.
Another option is a Structural Survey. This however, is limited to the main structural components of the poroperty and only usually advised if there are know structural issues, the property is in a dilapidated condition and is unmortgageable.
If you are looking for RICS members to carry out an independent building survey, then Anderson Associates are the people to contact, offering expert services which cover Suffolk, Essex, Kent, South East and East London. Follow the link to contact our Chartered Surveyors call us on 01473 623 656 or freephone 0800 652 8285.