You've found your dream home, what's next? Once your formal offer is accepted, you’ll need to contact a legal professional (conveyancer or solicitor) and a surveyor. They will perform what's known as property searches and surveys respectively.
A legal professional will perform checks with local authorities other parties regarding the property.
The local authority checks find out whether the property will be impacted negatively by future planning projects, the quality of the land the property sits on and drains accessed by the property. These checks can be completed within a varied timescale from a few days to several weeks. This response time is dependent on the local authority area’s resources.
Your legal professional will perform water and drainage checks that confirm water flows from and to the property and confirm who is responsible for the maintenance of these drainage systems.
The last checks are known as environmental checks that can be undertaken by your nominated legal professional. These environmental checks look to determine whether the property is built on a landfill site or is in an area prone to flooding. The checks may cover potential risks such as landslips and subsidence.
A surveyor will evaluate the property. Surveyors usually offer 3 types of surveys.
This survey is the most basic and reports the condition of the property and looks to identify potential risks and legal problems. This is the least expensive option at roughly £250.
This survey is much more detailed and in addition to the conditions report, you’ll get a more detailed inspection of the property. The price for a HomeBuyer Survey is usually between £250 and £500.
The HomeBuyer Survey will only inspect obvious major faults and defects which will be covered in the report. This can include obvious problems of damp and subsidence, and any other faults or defects that are not visible to the naked eye, will not be covered.
The HomeBuyer Survey does, however, cover potential issues and recommends repairs but, once again, these will only be for the most visible faults and defects.
A valuation of the property is included in this survey which can be used to re-negotiate, if the asking price is above the valuation.
This is the most comprehensive survey which can be costly, starting at a price point of £500. Although, the structural survey can save you thousands in the event that it uncovers structural damage.
The Structural Survey, as with the two previous surveys, includes a description of the general condition of the property and will analyse any potential hazardous faults which require urgent attention. This survey will put forward repair options to fix these faults, and recommendations will be put forward on the best option to take. Repair times and how these faults could develop if not attended to are also covered as part of the recommendations.
The Structural Survey will disclose an extensive amount of information on the construction of the property, which includes the materials used, issues and faults. Whatever is uncovered is usually offered with a resolution or direction on investigating the key identified issues. The Structural Survey looks beneath the floors and beyond the walls.
Lastly, the structural survey will review the energy efficiency of the property as well as the building reinstatement costs, which is how much it would cost to rebuild the property completely.
There is an even more basic survey than the conditions survey, which is known as the “mortgage valuation” and is undertaken by mortgage lenders. This survey is simply used to determine the valuation of the property and carries no additional information. These costs are usually covered as part of your mortgage however some lenders may charge a small fee. The lender’s valuation is only recommended for recently built properties in very good condition.
Searching for a legal professional or surveyor can take some time and often you will receive suggestions through your mortgage broker. While this may be convenient, make sure you check both the legal professional and surveyor are qualified and regulated. You can check these online via the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors or the Council for Licensed Conveyances/ Solicitors Regulation Authority.
You can go back and re-negotiate on the price at this stage and we recommend you do so if a survey uncovers any repairs that need to be undertaken.