When buying or selling a property in Scotland, surveys are essential. If you are purchasing a new home, house surveys ensure that you and your mortgage lender feel confident in your transaction. If you are selling, you are legally obligated to provide potential buyers with certain information.
Types of survey available
A home report, also known as a homebuyer report, provides general information about the property and includes a single survey, an energy report, and a property questionnaire.
The single survey is based on a visual inspection by a chartered surveyor, encompassing:
- providing an assessment of the condition of the property and any necessary repairs
- a valuation
- an accessibility audit for people with particular needs
Mortgage valuation (scheme 1 survey)
The least expensive type of report - the scheme 1 survey - provides a valuation of the property and can be used to secure a mortgage.
Home buyer’s report (scheme 2 survey)
A home buyer’s report involves a more detailed inspection of the property. It can uncover issues that were not addressed in the home report’s single survey and could potentially be used to negotiate on the property’s asking price. Most property purchasers opt for this survey type. Sometimes you will hear this referred to as a building survey.
However, a scheme 2 survey is still a visual inspection and only covers easily accessible areas, meaning structural issues could be overlooked.
Full structural survey
A full structural survey cost is higher than other house surveys, but it will give you a complete and detailed report of the property’s condition. The surveyor will examine areas that are not easily visible to uncover problems that might not be apparent on first inspection. If you are buying a particularly old or unusual property, it is best to get a structural survey.
Timeline for providing and securing surveys
Buyers considering a purchase can request a home report, and the seller must provide a copy within nine days of receiving the request. Sellers can refuse to give someone a report if they do not believe the buyer is seriously interested or if they do not want to sell the property to them, provided their reasons are not discriminatory. Sellers must ensure that the home report is not more than 12 weeks old at the time the house is put on the market.
The home report incorporates a survey, however many lenders will insist that an independent survey is carried out too. Having one done can also give buyers additional peace of mind.
The independent survey should be carried out before the buyer makes an offer. Otherwise, the buyer risks becoming legally bound to purchase the house before the survey has been completed. If the survey then uncovers major problems with the property, the buyer could be left committed to the sale without a mortgage in place.
Buyers do have the option to make an offer ‘subject to survey’. This means that they will only get a survey after the offer has been accepted, and that the offer will be legally withdrawn if the survey is unsatisfactory. Whilst this can be a good solution, some sellers will not accept offers subject to survey.
How to get an independent survey
Your mortgage lender or solicitor can organise a survey for you. You can also organise one yourself, but make sure you choose a surveyor who is registered with either:
- the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors in Scotland;
- the Incorporated Society of Valuers and Auctioneers;
- the Incorporated Association of Architects and Surveyors.
If you or your solicitor is organising the survey, ensure that the company you use is listed with your mortgage lender as an acceptable surveyor.
What happens when a surveyor does not identify a problem?
If the surveyor does not detect any issues, and you are happy with the level of survey you have chosen, you should feel confident moving forward with your purchase.
Should a problem later emerge that your surveyor ought to have detected, you may be able to claim compensation for what it costs you, for instance in repairs or loss in the value of your home. It will depend on the type of survey you had done and whether you can show that the issue existed or should have been anticipated when the survey was executed.
Contact our Conveyancing Lawyers in Aberdeen
With decades of conveyancing experience, andersonbain’s knowledgeable property law team is here to help you sell or buy your home. If you are based in Aberdeen or the surrounding areas or you are looking to move here, we would be delighted to assist. Call us today on 01224 456 789, alternatively, you can complete our online enquiry form and we will be in touch without delay.