Some people consider having a survey before selling their own property as they think it might ease the sale process and prevent delays. The survey itself does not typically result in a delay in the house buying process so long as it is arranged in good time and not left until the last minute.
As long as the property you are selling is in a reasonable order, in most cases it shouldn’t be necessary to have a survey before selling your home.
When you have agreed an offer (or an offer “subject to survey”) your potential purchaser will choose whether or not to instruct a surveyor to carry out a survey (if your buyer is buying the property with a mortgage then a mortgage valuation may also be undertaken, either at the same time as the survey or separately).
Reasons not to have a survey before selling your property include:
- Most prudent purchasers would instruct a surveyor of their choice to carry out a survey on their behalf, irrespective of whether you have already had a survey carried out.
- If the buyer instructs a surveyor then the report will be prepared in their name and will be for them to rely on. If the seller has commissioned a survey then this would not typically be able to be relied upon by a third party, such as a potential purchaser. It may be possible to transfer the report into the name of the buyer but this may incur a fee.
- If the buyer has particular questions about the property, eg, if the buyer is considering carrying out alterations, these points can be addressed during the survey.
- If the seller arranges a survey before putting the house on the market and if there is a time lag between the survey being undertaken and finding a buyer, then the report may not be up to date.
In summary, wait to see whether your potential purchaser wishes to have a survey, and if so, leave them to instruct a surveyor of their choice. Allow the surveyor access to your property and be helpful with any questions he or she may have. So long as your buyer arranges a survey in good time the survey is unlikely to result in a delay.
I’ve just received my survey report and the survey reveals defects. What are my options?
1. If your survey reveals defects, the first thing to do is get quotations from contractors for the works. Survey reports don’t generally include cost estimates because the actual costs can vary depending on whether any work is carried out in isolation or as part of a larger scheme. Make sure that you are fully aware of the cost of all works before exchange of contracts.
2. For most works it is better to choose your own contractor rather than letting the vendor arrange to have the work done. Most works can wait until after the purchase is complete. If you appoint a contractor yourself then you can make sure the works are completed to your satisfaction.
3. If the survey reveals defects which are significant and not reflected in the asking price, you may wish to renegotiate the purchase price. Renegotiation is usually done through the estate agent rather than directly with the vendor. Remember that the vendor is under no obligation to reduce the price. Any renegotiation will depend on how much the vendor can afford to reduce the price by. In some cases the asking price may take into account the condition of the property and there may not be any scope for renegotiation. Negotiation of the purchase price is a delicate balancing act and may not always go to plan. If there are other buyers on the scene then the vendor may choose to sell to another buyer. Similarly, a vendor may decide to take the property off the market if the likely selling price is less than anticipated.
4. You are not under any obligation to give a copy of the survey report to the vendor or even the estate agent. They may ask for a copy but the decision is yours. However, in some cases it may be helpful to give an extract to the estate agent to help negotiations.
5. If you find that the cost of the works is higher than your budget you may choose to withdraw and look for another property. This is only usually an option before exchange of contracts and this is a good reason to instruct a surveyor early in the house buying process.
In the event that you withdraw from the sale then the cost of the survey is a small price to pay when compared to any unexpected expenditure you would have had if you hadn’t commissioned a survey.
A survey report will tell you the condition of a property at the time of the inspection. It is not a guarantee that no other defects will occur during your ownership.
A survey report will provide you with sufficient information (after carrying out any further investigations, etc) for you to decide whether or not to proceed with the purchase, or, whether to renegotiate the purchase price as a result of the findings of the report. It will not specifically tell you whether you should buy the property or not.
A survey report will tell you whether there is any evidence of settlement or subsidence to a property. It will not tell you whether any movement will or will not occur in the future.
A survey report will tell you whether there any are defects to the visible parts of the property. It will not tell you the condition of any hidden areas. However, if there is a reason to suspect defects to hidden areas, (e.g., damp walls at low level and lack of ventilation to a sub-floor void may cause dampness, rot and/or woodworm to hidden floor timbers) then the report should point out the risk and recommend further investigations are carried out before you exchange contracts.
A survey report will tell you the visible condition of the service installations. It does not include a test of service installations such as the electrical installation, heating system, drainage installation, plumbing installation, alarm system, etc. However, the survey report will recommend whether such installations require testing by specialist contractors.
A survey report will tell you whether any materials or products were noted during the course of the survey which may contain asbestos. However, this will not be an Asbestos Survey and will not include taking samples to test for asbestos content. An Abestos Survey and any testing of samples would need to be carried out by a specialist asbestos company.
See also instructing a surveyor, what type of survey do I need? How much does a survey cost? and what should I do after having a survey?