08 Aug House surveys for first time buyers
Most people find buying a house complicated, and even stressful, but it can be particularly tricky to keep up with all the steps of the process when you’ve never done it before!
Once you have found a home, a mortgage, and had your offer accepted, there is still quite a way to go. For most people, the next step is having a building survey carried out, before you exchange contracts. From figuring out whether you need a survey, to which survey type to choose, Allcott Associates’ team provide useful advice to help you make the right decisions.
Do I need a Survey?
We have to admit, we are a bit biased, but we would recommend a building survey in almost every purchase. For first time buyers, a house purchase is usually the biggest investment they have ever made, so it makes sense to check that the house you are buying is structurally sound, and won’t come with any expensive repair and maintenance requirements. A survey can also be reassuring, letting you know that the crack you noticed upstairs is purely cosmetic, or that the tree in the garden isn’t likely to cause subsidence.
Mortgage valuations vs building surveys
This is a question that frequently comes up, from both first-time buyers and seasoned purchasers.
One of the pitfalls comes from confusing the mortgage valuation with a building survey. Mortgage providers will carry out a mortgage valuation and often refer to it as a ‘survey’; however, these are only carried out to determine whether the bank’s investment is safe.
A mortgage valuation will look to see whether the property is worth at least the amount that you want to borrow, and will do a quick check for any extremely serious issues, such as severe subsidence, that would substantially affect property value. It does not go into any detail on the condition of the property and the repairs required. In fact, mortgage valuations are often done virtually, which means the surveyor doesn’t even visit the property.
In contrast, a level 2 or level 3 survey will look at the entire property and will identify serious issues, as well as repair and maintenance requirements. This is invaluable for budgeting and deciding whether you are paying the right price for the property.
As for whether to choose a level 2 (homebuyer) or level 3 (full building survey), it usually depends on whether the house is fairly new, standard construction and in a reasonable condition.
If it meets all of those criteria, a level 2 survey is usually recommended. If not, a more thorough and tailored level 3 survey is advised.
Whichever survey type you choose, our surveyors will provide a straightforward and thorough report, with photos throughout to illustrate their findings. They will also be on hand to talk through any questions you might have about the survey conclusions and advise you on next steps.
How much does a house survey for a first-time buyer cost?
The cost of a survey will depend on several factors, including the size and age of the house. Our instant quote tool can be used to give you a fast and accurate quote to help you budget for your survey. Many first time buyers struggle to know exactly when their house was built – in these cases, the tool can be used to get an idea of cost, and our experienced, in-house team will provide further support and advice on getting an accurate quote.