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What is a Homebuyer Survey Report?

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Everything you ever wanted to know about Hombuyer Survey Reports

By Camsure Home Surveys, June 26th, 2021, 5 min read

What is a Homebuyer Survey Report?

The popular Homebuyer Survey Report (also known as a Level 2 RICS Survey) is a visual, non-invasive property inspection performed by a qualified surveyor. 

Essentially, it is a shorter version of an RICS Building Survey, but it is more detailed and comprehensive than a Mortgage Valuation or an RICS Condition Report. 

What's included in the Homebuyer Survey Report?

The Homebuyer Survey Report includes:

  • issues that may affect the value of the property (e.g. damp or subsidence)
  • advice on repairs and ongoing maintenance
  • the rebuild cost of the property
  • the market value of the property
  • any breach of current building regulations

What is a non-instrusive survey?

A non-intrusive survey means that the surveyor only inspects what is visible and accessible. Unless otherwise agreed, all surveys are non-intrusive and the survey report will advise if more detailed investigation is necessary.

A surveyor carrying out a non-invasive Homebuyer Survey Report will not:

  • pull up carpets
  • empty out cupboards
  • crawl into roof spaces
  • undo secured panels and/or hatches
  • check electrical fittings
  • drill holes into surfaces

What is checked during a Homebuyer Survey Report?

The surveyor will inspect all major indoor and outdoor features.

This is an excellent option for most modern homes and for older homes that are in decent shape and haven't undergone significant remodelling.

The Homebuyer Survey Report will check:

  • ceilings
  • bathrooms
  • walls
  • doors
  • windows
  • roof
  • pipes
  • guttering
  • permanent outdoor buildings e.g. garage
  • fences and boundary walls, if accessible

What's the difference between a Mortgage Valuation and A Homebuyer Survey Report?

If you want to take out a mortgage, you need to get a Mortgage Valuation. This is an initial check of the property's value to help the lender determine exactly how much money they will need to lend you.

Homebuyer Survey Reports are an optional step in the property buying process and are for the buyer's benefit because they help find and document any issues with a property. After all, you don't want to find out that there are major issues like damp or serious structural problems after buying the property.

It's important to remember that the Mortgage Valuation benefits the lender and the Homebuyer Survey Report benefits the buyer.


What's the difference between a Homebuyer Survey Report and a Building Survey?

A Building Survey (RICS Level 3) is significantly more comprehensive than a Homebuyer Survey Report (RICS Level 2) and provides you with a much more detailed assessment of the condition of your property.

It is best to use a Homebuyer Survey Report for properties that:

  • date from the 1930s or later
  • have a more conventional design
  • are constructed with common building materials
  • appear to be in reasonable condition

A Building Survey is generally better for properties that:

  • are larger than average
  • are over 100 years old
  • have been extensively altered or enlarged
  • seem to be run-down
  • you intend to carry out major works to in the future
  • are of unconventional construction

Why choose an RICS Homebuyer Survey Report?

Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) is the leading, international, professional organisation dedicated to promoting and regulating chartered surveyors. RICS qualifications and membership ensure the highest level of professionalism and quality reporting.

Surveyors regulated by RICS are required to have professional indemnity insurance, which helps protect the buyer if the surveyor fails to detect a problem that later becomes an issue.


Is an RICS Homebuyer Survey Report worth it?

When compared with the price of a property, many people think that the cost of the survey is worth it.

The RICS Homebuyer Survey Report will:

  • give you a clearer understanding of the property's condition
  • give advice on repairs and maintenance
  • help you avoid unexpected repair costs

In addition, it may even save you money by providing the evidence you need to negotiate a lower asking price. You might even reconsider buying the property altogether.


How do I arrange an RICS Homebuyer Survey Report?

If you have applied for a mortgage to purchase a property you can (but don’t have to) request a Homebuyer Survey Report through your mortgage lender. They will generally instruct their preferred surveying company or individual to carry out the survey at the same time as a Mortgage Valuation.

Having both inspections done at once can be a cost-effective option.

Alternatively, you can approach a surveying company or individual surveyor to do the survey for you. The surveyor will liaise with the seller or selling agent to arrange access to the property.

Nb You can also request an Open Market Valuation to be included in this survey, but this is just for information and is not a Mortgage Valuation. Your mortgage lender will still need to carry out a Mortgage Valuation.


How long will it take?

A Homebuyer Survey Report inspection usually takes around 1-2 hours to complete, depending on the size and type of property.


What equipment will the surveyor use?

The surveyor may use a damp meter, binoculars and a torch. A ladder may be used for flat roofs and hatches that are no more than 3 metres above level ground (outside), or floor surfaces (inside), if it is safe to do so.


When will the Homebuyer Survey Report be ready?

It may take anything from 24 hours to a week for the report to reach you.


What will the Homebuyer Survey look like?

The report uses Condition Ratings - a “traffic light” system - to highlight issues that need to be addressed, in order of urgency:

Red: urgent attention needed

Amber: attention needed but not urgent

Green: no repair needed

NI: not inspected

Condition Ratings

Importantly, the Homebuyer Survey Report incorporates a section entitled “Risks” which details issues that may constitute a risk to the property (e.g. structural movement, nearby trees etc), or to people (e.g. lack of safety glass in doors, visibly unsafe electrics etc).

View a sample Homebuyer Survey Report

What does a Homebuyer Report look like


How much does a Homebuyer Survey Report cost?

Costs will depend upon the type of property and its purchase price – which is often determined by location.

As a rough guide, a Homebuyer Survey Report on a property valued at up to £400,000 can cost between approximately £400 and £500 (as of June 2021).


How can I find a surveyor?

Your lender can usually recommend a qualified surveyor, solicitor or estate agent. If you’re combining a Mortgage Valuation with a Homebuyer Survey Report, then you’ll have to use a surveyor from the mortgage lender’s approved panel.

As mentioned above, you should ensure that your surveyor is a member of a recognised governing body such as the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA) or Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).


Useful Links

RICS - www.rics.org
Really Moving- https://www.reallymoving.com/surveyors/guides/what-type-of-survey-do-i-need

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