Q: I have just agreed to buy a property and sat down with my financial advisor to get the mortgage arranged and he has asked me for money up front for the survey and also wants to know which type of survey I want to instruct. Having never bought before, firstly is this really necessary given the property is only 5 years old and secondly which type of survey do you suggest I opt for if I have to get one carried out?

A: Given the fact that you are meeting with your financial advisor to arrange a mortgage means that you will absolutely need a survey given the Lender will require this if they are going to offer you a mortgage,  you would only have the choice to opt out of a survey  if you were a cash buyer. The purpose of a survey is, to inspect the property, report on its condition, identify any defects, make recommendations about repairs or further specialist reports, and give an honest opinion of the value.

Currently most valuations are undertaken primarily on behalf of lending institutions, such as Building Societies and Banks. Reports produced for this purpose are generally very limited and brief, although around 80% of buyers rely on them. Less than 20% of buyers ask for their own independent surveys to be carried out, but generally surveyors will carry out a building survey for a buyer, which is a comprehensive inspection and detailed report.

Alternatively there is a budget survey known as a ‘Homebuyers Report’ which member of RICS carry out. This survey is far more detailed than the usual mortgage valuation your lender has likely requested, but not as extensive as the building survey. It is meant for properties of a standard construction and condition. Building surveys often highlight more sinister problems with a property and the surveyor may ask for further reports to be obtained, the most likely reason for further reports will be, dampness, timber rot, cavity wall ties, structural stability.

An adverse report from surveyors is one of the main reasons why buyers either change their mind and decide not to continue buying a property or want to reduce the price. Given that the property you are buying is only 5 years old a simple mortgage valuation should be sufficient. Had the property been a period building I would have without question suggested a homebuyers at the very least, with a building survey being the best option. Buying a property is one of the biggest purchases you will ever make so don’t cut corners when it comes to issues such as having a survey carried out.