If you don’t want to end up in the house that Jack built, you’re going to want a property survey conducted before you sign on the dotted line. You need to be certain what you’re investing in, and that any potential issues with the structure, building work or the interior are highlighted. The result of the survey could lead you to back out of a property purchase before you make a mistake that could cost you a small fortune. But where do you start? Read on for top tips from us.
1. Don’t Skim the Surface
A common misconception is that a mortgage valuation is the same as a survey. When a buyer applies for a mortgage, the lender will insist on the property being valued and the result will hopefully confirm that the property is worth more than they are being asked to lend. The issue is that mortgage valuations just skim the surface. They don’t provide anywhere as much detail as a homebuyer survey does and will only throw up obvious defects. Opt for a Homebuyers or Building Survey that will give you a wide-ranging inspection of a property.
The Home Buyers/Building survey will comment on all visible and reachable areas of a building. This includes the roof, floors, walls, ceilings, windows, doors, chimneys, basements and any outbuildings. Surveyors will be actively searching for problems, so you can rest assured that if any exist, they are likely to crop up. TOP TIP: You can sometimes combine your mortgage valuation with your Building Survey so they happen on the same day.
2. Consider the Type and Purpose of the Property
You need to think about the type of property and what you’re planning to do with it. For instance, if you’re buying a new build then you may want to consider if a full structural survey is necessary or if there are other options more suitable for your requirements. However, if you’re planning on refurbishing your property you may want to know what’s going on with every single nook and cranny to eradicate any nasty surprises further down the line.
3. How Much Money Will You Want to Spend?
If you’re sticking well within a tight budget, the amount of repairs and maintenance a property’s going to need after the keys are yours will be of concern. Have a clear idea in your mind what you’re willing to part with when the survey is done and stick to it. Don’t get wooed by the romantic idea of a refurb if you can’t afford it!
4. Use a Regulated Body
This is very important: make sure you use a RICS Surveyor, as they will be fully qualified and insured. This helpful site can help you find a RICS Surveyor in your area. Graham Ellis of RICS gives some handy advice in this article by This is Money.
5. Be the Early Bird
It makes sense to instruct a survey early in the buying process once a sale is agreed and the chain is complete – for the simple reason that if there are any issues, you’re going to want to know soon so you can make further enquiries if necessary. It might be that you decide to continue with the purchase if the issues are not major, but if alarm bells are going off you can stop the process before you get too emotionally (and financially) invested.
6. Open Your Mind
When you’re looking to buy a property and you fall in love with a place, you don’t want to be told there’s anything wrong with it. However, when you have moved in and you see that there are issues that could be expensive you may start to regret it. Keep an open mind and don’t fall for the ‘shabby chic’ look before you know what’s really going on.
7. Use it as a Bargaining Chip
If the survey brings up some issues with the property you’re buying you may wish to try and renegotiate your offer if you still want to proceed with your purchase. If the roof needs extensive repairs you may be able to get a reduction on the overall purchase price.
8. Shop Around
Lastly, shop around for different survey quotes. Make sure you’re getting a fair deal in the current market and that you’re using an experienced RICS surveyor. There are plenty of surveyors around so ask for a few quotes and see what you get back!
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