When it comes to buying your first house then you’ll need some kind of reassurance that it isn’t falling down, let me introduce the Homebuyers Report aka the survey.
The Homebuyers Report is a long guide on the house that you’re looking to buy with a list of any defects, or potential defects. In other words, this is where someone goes to look at your house and tell you about everything that is wrong with it, or could go wrong in the future. It feels like you’re about to buy something that may not even be standing in a few years, but it’s the job of the Homebuyers to cover every potential defect. It will not only potentially (probably) put you off buying the house, but it will give you some room to negotiate with the seller if there are more problems than you realised when the house was viewed.
A standard Homebuyers survey costs between £350-£400 and looks at everything from the floorboards up, if you’re worried about any structural issues then it’s likely you’ll want something a little more detailed. When booking in your Homebuyers Report flag any potential issues and then you’ll have more of an idea in advance of what needs closer inspection.
The Homebuyers report uses a traffic light system to look at the condition of a property, rating each part of the house red, orange or green. And there probably ain’t going to be a lot of green in there.
At the beginning of the report, the surveyor will give an overall opinion and summary of the condition of the property, and section into conditions 3,2 & 1. They’ll let you know whether they feel the purchase price of the property is fair, compared to the amount of work that needs doing. NB, this is a secondary valuation to the one from your lender, as they will need to do their own before offering you a mortgage.
Red – Fix me now 😭
As standard, the services will tend to fall within the defects that need to be repaired, replaced or investigated urgently. This is due to the surveyor looking at the services, but not doing a full check. They will always recommend that the electrics, gas, heating and water are looked at independently by specialists. Anything else flagged within the urgent section should be looked at by a specialist, and then can potentially be used to negotiate a price. For example, if your walls are damp like ours, then you’ll need to get a full damp report and the seller may choose to give you some money off the house to get this fixed.
Orange – Fix me later 😒
Anything falling within the second section of the report will need to be looked at, but perhaps not urgently. Aspects of the exterior may fall within this section, especially if you’re buying an older property. Elements such as the roof, rainwater pipes and gutters are likely to need work doing in the future, but it isn’t necessarily something that needs doing before the property is liveable, so while it’s worth trying to negotiate on these points, in many cases it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to leverage any cash to get the work done.
If you’ve got elements of the house in the green section, congratulations – you don’t need to spend ALL of your money just yet.
Once you’ve been through your Homebuyers report, there will be a number of steps to take before progressing with the sale of your house. There will be plenty of issues that you’ll want to take up with the estate agent to negotiate with the seller, and potentially some further reports needed too. There will also be issues for your solicitors to look into, this can be anything from the service history on the boiler, to the guarantees for any previous work, to planning permission docs for a moved doorway.
When you’ve been through the survey, you should have a much better idea on how much work is going to be needed to be done, and if you’re prepared to do it…