What is a Home Report?
Home Reports were introduced in late 2008 to avoid several surveys being done, and paid-for, by buyers on the same property. For example, if three buyers were interested in the same property, they might all get a survey carried-out, at great expense, only for two of the surveys effectively to be a waste of time and money as there can only be one buyer.
There are three elements to the Home Report: the Survey, the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and the Property Questionnaire.
The Property Questionnaire is completed by the property owner and contains lots of useful information for the potential buyer and also information that might speed-up the conveyancing when the property sells.
The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rates the energy efficiency of the property and looks a bit like the energy rating on a fridge.
The Survey element covers the structural elements of the property and rates various elements of the physical make-up of the house on a scale from 1 to 3, with 1 being the best and 3 being the worst. It also provides a surveyor’s valuation of the property and a reinstatement value, plus issues that might be of interest to the purchaser’s solicitor such as apparent alterations having been made to the layout of the property that would require paperwork to be provided by the seller.
Do I have to get a Home Report?
Yes, if you are marketing the property on the open market. There are certain exceptions to the Home Report requirement but, for the most part, unless you are making a ‘private sale’, to someone you know, off-market, you will need to get a Home Report in advance of putting your property on the market.
Is the Home Report important to my sale price?
Yes, very! The Home Report contains a survey that places a professional chartered surveyor’s valuation on your property. Therefore, regardless of the valuation that your solicitor/estate agent gives your property, all buyers will have access to the Home Report which tells them what your property is worth, in the opinion of a professional surveyor. It is therefore essential that you get a Home Report that accurately values your property.
Is the Home Report useful to buyers and sellers?
Yes, very! Property buyers can often use the survey element of the Home Report for their mortgage lender, as long as the surveyor is on the lender’s ‘panel’ of approved surveyors. If the lender doesn’t accept the Home Report, the buyer will have to commission their own survey by another firm of chartered surveyors.
This increases the risk that their own surveyor won’t ‘survey the property up’, in other words that the valuation of their own surveyor will be lower than the Home Report value. This can lead to the sale falling through or at the very least a reduction in the price that you have to accept for the sale of your property.
It can also cost the buyer several hundreds of pounds, so a property with a Home Report from a reputable, panel surveyor can be worth several hundreds of pounds to a buyer and make your property more attractive than one that has a less widely-accepted Home Report survey.
Who does the Home Report?
Home Reports are generally provided by firms of Chartered Surveyors because the survey element of the Home Report has to be carried-out by a chartered surveyor, registered with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. However, there are also other companies who aren’t surveyors and who co-ordinate putting a Home Report together and who instruct the individual elements separately.
How do I order a Home Report? Should I just order one direct?
Your solicitor/estate agent will generally sort this out for you. You can also order them direct from some providers. We would always recommend, however, that you use a solicitor/estate agent to order your Home Report for you.
Not only do they have an existing relationship with the surveyor, they also have had plenty of experience of judging the accuracy of the valuations provided in the Home Report by those surveyors. The last thing you want is to spend a few hundreds of pounds on a Home Report only to find that the valuation isn’t what you wanted and that the surveyor just isn’t prepared to listen to you when you point out that the comparable evidence that they based that valuation on is inaccurate!
We don’t recommend the non-chartered surveyor, discount Home Report providers partly on ground of service and partly because they often use firms of surveyors who are not on the ‘panels’ of the major UK lenders. This renders your Home Report useless to a property buyer who wants to use it for their mortgage.
Do I have to prepare the house for a Home Report?
Technically, no. But remember that chartered surveyors are only human so the general appearance and cleanliness of the property when they visit it will have some bearing on how they rate the individual elements of the property. In addition, interior decorative condition is a part of the survey so it might be worth giving it that lick of paint after all!
How much do I have to pay for a home report?
This depends on the value of your property with higher-value properties being charged more for the Home Report. Either way, your solicitor/estate agent will be able to provide you with a cost at the quote stage of the process.