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Could Jargon-Free Property Surveys Help Home Buyers?

Homebuyers could soon enjoy better protection against purchasing properties with major faults because surveyors want to make “confusing” buyer reports easier to understand.

Anyone buying a home can have the condition of the building checked by paying for a homebuyer’s survey.

Under the present system, buyers can end up purchasing homes with undiscovered problems because they assume that the survey will check for faults that it is not designed to look for. Some don’t even order a survey because they believe that problem checks are included in the mortgage valuation.

There are many different types of surveys available, all offering different types of check.

  • The condition report, which is the lowest, will unearth any major issues.
  • The homebuyer’s report is more thorough, but still comparatively limited.
  • The building survey, or structural survey, is the most comprehensive and will check between floors and behind walls.

For example, the condition report is intended for newer homes and typical houses while the building survey covers older or more unusual properties.

Structural Defects Insurance

There is no industry-wide surveyor standard, so one party’s condition report might review more problems than the report produced by another.

HomeOwners Alliance representative Paula Higgins said that she didn’t believe that surveys in their current form are suitable for the purpose.

Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) representative Tom Littler said that surveyors intend to simplify the system, which is presently too fragmented. He said that it could cause the homebuying public to become confused, so the goal is to improve the product that house surveyors provide to buyers.

Your Mortgage Decisions representative Dominik Lipnicki said that people are often clueless about the current homebuyer survey system. He added that they don’t understand the difference between a basic valuation and a structural one or that a basic valuation is only for the lender.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors wants to eliminate the current homebuyer surveys and replace them with jargon-free surveys that have three levels. Each level would clarify the minimum service offered by the survey. RICS, which will consult on these changes, is committed to pushing the simplified report through.

Mr. Littler said that he hoped that surveyors that did not belong to RICS would also be able to adopt the new jargon-free survey.  All surveyors, chartered and non-chartered, would be encouraged to use the same standards.

Specialists in Construction Insurance


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