Once your offer has been accepted, a survey is required to assess the property's condition and value. Your mortgage lender will require at least a basic valuation before allowing your loan to go ahead.
In almost every case, we recommend strongly that you get a more detailed report on the condition of the property to protect not only your lender's interests, but your own as well. Make sure that the surveyor you use is a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors or the Incorporated Society of Valuers and Auctioneers.
TIP: If you apply for your mortgage through John Charcol, we will help you to organise the survey.
There are two kinds of surveyor's report beyond the basic valuation:
A House Buyer's Report
This comments on the condition of only those parts of the property which are easily accessible or visible. The surveyor will recommend any further investigations he thinks are necessary, for example if he thinks the wiring needs checking or there is the possibility of some structural problems.
A Full Structural Survey
This involves a more extensive investigation. A full survey is more expensive than a house buyer's report, but should tell you much more about any work that may need doing on the property if you buy it. Full surveys are recommended in many cases, particularly if you are buying a property that is more than 100 years old or the building is more than three stories high.
When you view the property yourself, look out for any signs of problems like cracks or damp patches so you can point these out to the surveyor later for him to inspect properly.
When you set out on the home-buying process, you should budget for the cost of more than one survey. You might find the surveyor's report on your first property uncovers serious faults (such as subsidence or rot), which means you want to withdraw your offer. Even if there are no problems with the property itself, another bidder could step in with a better offer at the last minute.
Either way, you will have to start the whole process again, and that includes organising a survey for the next property where your offer is accepted.
Where the survey does reveal serious problems, you are free to withdraw your offer. If the problems can be fixed, you may be able to use the survey results to negotiate a reduction in the sale price to compensate you for this extra expense.