Home­buy­ers to get sim­pler jar­gon-free prop­erty sur­veys

The Daily Telegraph - Your Money - - MONEY - Sam Barker

Home­buy­ers could soon be bet­ter pro­tected against buy­ing prop­er­ties with se­ri­ous faults be­cause sur­vey­ors want to sim­plify “con­fus­ing” home­buyer re­ports.

Any­one buy­ing a prop­erty can pay for a home­buyer’s sur­vey to check the con­di­tion of the build­ing.

Un­der the cur­rent sys­tem, peo­ple can end up buy­ing houses with un­di­ag­nosed prob­lems be­cause they as­sume the sur­vey will test for is­sues it is not de­signed to cover. Some buy homes with no sur­vey at all be­cause they think the mort­gage val­u­a­tion checks for prop­erty prob­lems.

There are sev­eral types of sur­vey of­fered by sur­vey­ors, all of­fer­ing dif­fer­ent lev­els of checks. The low­est is the con­di­tion re­port, which will flag up ma­jor is­sues. Then there is the home­buyer’s re­port, which is more thor­ough but still lim­ited. For ex­am­ple, the sur­veyor will check for sub­si­dence but is un­likely to look in the loft or lift any floor­boards.

Then there is the build­ing sur­vey, or struc­tural sur­vey. This is the most com­pre­hen­sive and will check be­hind walls and be­tween floors.

The sur­veys are not ap­pli­ca­ble to all homes. For ex­am­ple, the con­di­tion re­port is aimed at typ­i­cal houses and newer homes, whereas the build­ing sur­vey is bet­ter for older or un­usual homes.

There is no in­dus­try stan­dard for all sur­vey­ors, so a con­di­tion re­port from one might ex­am­ine more prob­lems than the same re­port from an­other.

Paula Hig­gins, of the Home­Own­ers Al­liance, a pres­sure group, said: “I don’t be­lieve sur­veys, in their cur­rent form, are fit for pur­pose.”

Tom Lit­tler, of the Royal In­sti­tu­tion of Char­tered Sur­vey­ors (Rics), told Tele­graph Money that the trade body in­tends to sim­plify the whole sys­tem.

“The cur­rent sys­tem is too frag­mented,” he said. “We per­ceive that there could be con­fu­sion among the home­buy­ing pub­lic. The whole idea is to im­prove the prod­uct that a mem­ber of the pub­lic could re­ceive from a house sur­veyor.”

Do­minik Lip­nicki, of bro­ker Your Mort­gage De­ci­sions, said cus­tomers of­ten “haven’t got a clue” about the cur­rent sys­tem of home­buyer sur­veys.

He added: “Of­ten they don’t re­alise the dif­fer­ence be­tween a struc­tural val­u­a­tion and a ba­sic one, and don’t re­alise that a ba­sic val­u­a­tion is only for the lender.”

Rics wants to scrap all the cur­rent home­buyer sur­veys and re­place them with one that has three lev­els. Each level would ex­plain the min­i­mum ser­vice the sur­vey would of­fer.

Rics will con­sult on the changes, but said it is de­ter­mined to push through the sim­pli­fied re­port.

Mr Lit­tler said he hoped nonRics sur­vey­ors would also adopt the even­tual new home­buyer sur­vey.

He said: “We want all sur­vey­ors, be they char­tered sur­vey­ors or not, to fol­low the same stan­dards so we don’t have things at dif­fer­ent lev­els.”

Martin Stew­art, of Lon­don Money, a mort­gage bro­ker, said he hoped that the new re­port would also use sim­pler lan­guage to avoid con­fus­ing cus­tomers.

Mr Stew­art said: “When we talk about home­buyer re­ports, full struc­tural sur­veys, it’s all just more jar­gon in a world full of jar­gon. Cus­tomers can go word-blind. They lose faith and switch off.”

Con­fus­ing re­ports are set to be sim­pli­fied

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.