If you are purchasing a property and are obtaining a mortgage, the mortgage company will insist that you have a valuation survey done to ensure that the property is valued to at least the sale price.

A property survey can do a whole lot more for a buyer, whether or not they are obtaining a mortgage. The right survey will identify issues with the property, such as ill-fitting windows, dry rot or problems with the roof. Sometimes, other problems such as inadequate rights of access or possible non-compliance with planning or building regulations are detected. Buying a property without commissioning, or not commissioning a detailed enough, survey means that a buyer is at risk on requiring costly repairs to be carried out. The seller is not obliged to tell a buyer about issues with the property unless he is asked a direct question about a certain issue which the seller must answer truthfully or be at risk of a claim for misrepresentation. The expression “caveat emptor” (let the buyer beware) applies to property purchases, so it is in the buyer’s best interest to know everything possible about the property.

If a survey report identifies a problem with the property, such as dry rot, then it is a good idea for the buyer to obtain an estimate to put the problem right from a reputable contractor. The buyer then has the option to either:

Go ahead at the same price and correct the problem after purchase;

  • ask the seller to deal with the problem before exchange of contracts;
  • negotiate a reduction in the purchase price to take account of the cost of remedial repairs; or
  • withdraw from the sale.

Surveyors’ fees and other professionals’ fees appear expensive, but, when compared to the cost of buying a property, they are good value for money, especially if issues are highlighted. The last thing a buyer wants is to move into his new home and be faced with problems which are not visible but can cause real problems to the property in the future.

The website of The Royal Institution of Charted Surveyors will provide you with details of surveyors to carry out the work, or we may be able to recommend someone.