The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has set outlines for a range of homebuyer surveys. Varying in the depth of investigation and price, these surveys provide an accurate idea of the property's condition and need for repairs. Focusing particularly on the homebuyer report, we’ll highlight what’s included in the RICS Homebuyer reports in this blog.
What is a RICS Homebuyer Report?
A RICS Homebuyer Report is based on the survey of a property for the identification of structural or building issues both inside and out. Also referred to as a Level 2 Home Survey, this is a suitable option for conventional properties in reasonable condition. Ideally, such properties will be less than fifty years old, in good condition, and with no obvious signs of damage or remedial work having been carried out.
A RICS survey doesn’t have to be carried out under UK law across the majority of the UK. However, it is a highly recommended step before purchasing a property. In the case of the homebuyer report, the prospective buyer will be alerted to structural problems, such as subsistence and dampness, and any other issues that may only become obvious during the survey.
However, the homebuyer report doesn’t involve investigation beyond the floorboards or behind the walls. These areas may only be assessed as part of the significantly more comprehensive Level 3 Home Survey.
Issues identified in a homebuyer report will be assigned traffic light ratings based on their seriousness and the need for corrective action. A red warning light indicates defects that are serious and/or need to be repaired, replaced, or investigated as a matter of urgency. An amber light indicates defects that will soon have to be repaired or replaced, but which aren’t considered serious or urgent. A green light highlights property elements that don’t have to be repaired. Inspection may not be possible where cupboards or roof space are blocked.
A property valuation may be included in the homebuyer report and used as the basis for a revised offer where the survey reveals a lower price than the mortgage lender’s valuation. If a valuation isn’t given then the prospective buyer might attempt to negotiate the price down based on the kinds of issues highlighted in the report.
RICS home surveys may reveal property issues such as:
- Cracks and Roofing Issues
- Dry Rot
- Japanese Knotweed
If the surveyor finds dampness, structural concerns or electrical issues, they may advise a follow-up inspection to be carried out by a specialist. Such additional costs should also be taken into account during the process.
Types of homebuyer surveys
The RICS Homebuyer Report, as it is commonly known, now goes by the updated title of RICS Home Survey. There are three levels, each of which may be conducted based on the updated Home Survey Standard, which was introduced in 2021. Developed for the purpose of increasing consistency, transparency, and competency, the RICS Home survey standard clarifies the appropriate choice of survey.
Complete with corresponding standards, this highlights the need for clear and easily understandable reporting, and the appropriate surveying methods are specified, together with the expected qualifications of the surveyor.
Level 1 Home Survey (Condition Report)
Previously referred to as the Condition Report, the level 1 survey involves a surface-level inspection of the property to identify any defects and damage. As the least comprehensive survey, it is only recommended for properties built within the last five years. Apart from a basic interior inspection, it also involves a cursory review of the grounds. No advice or valuation will be given in such a report.
Level 2 Home Survey (Homebuyer Report)
The homebuyer report extends the scope of the investigation, with a number of extras being included. While the level 1 survey only includes the inspection of one window for each elevation, the homebuyer report will also include the review of each type of window where there is a variety. The more comprehensive inspection also extends to observable service system parts, together with accessible grounds and public property. A market valuation may also be included based on the survey findings.
Level 3 Home Survey (Building Survey)
The Level 3 Home Survey (also referred to as the Building Survey) is the most comprehensive. While suitable for all property types, it is particularly recommended for older homes and those likely to require repair. Apart from the elements covered in the level 2 survey, it includes a comprehensive visual inspection of areas such as the roof and grounds. This thorough survey will indicate how the property has been built, including the expected future performance of building materials. The suitability and urgency of repair options will also be highlighted.
There’s the additional option of the new-build snagging survey, which should inform the purchase of any recently built property. This survey will highlight any issues that should be dealt with before the new property buyer moves in.
RICS Homebuyer Report Costs
Taking the example of properties valued at between £200,000 and £300,000, the average costs of RICS home surveys are as follows:
- RICS Level 1 Survey: ~£380
- RICS Level 2 Survey: ~£500
- RICS Level 3 Survey: ~£800
The price of a new-build snagging survey is likely to be upwards of £300, with some variation based on the size of the property. These costs are just an average and may vary depending on location, property type, size, value, and other variables.
RICS Homebuyer Report Template
The RICS homebuyer report should be written in a standard format beginning with key details such as the property address, client’s name and date of inspection. This will be followed by a general introduction, mentioning that failure to act on the advice in the report will be at the property buyer’s own risk. The surveyor's details will then be given, including the RICS number, company name and status of the property when it was inspected.
Traffic light ratings will be assigned based on the condition of property elements, including property exterior (roof coverings, main walls, and rainwater pipes and gutters), property interior (including roof structure, walls and floors, fireplaces and woodwork, and bathroom fittings), property services (such as electricity, gas/oil, heating and water, and grounds).
Detailed inspection findings will be given for each of these property elements and the need for maintenance and repair work will also be specified. Finally, the surveyor will give a signed declaration that they have completed the survey in accordance with the terms set out by RICS.
Conduct RICS Homebuyer Surveys with Property Inspect
While many templates promise to include all of these exactitudes, very few carry a seal of approval directly from RICS. Property Inspect is a RICS Tech Partner and therefore carries fully-compliant RICS templates for each of these surveys.
As RICS Tech partners, Property Inspect is dedicated to setting the best practice benchmark across every completed survey. Designed in line with the RICS Home Survey Standard, our built-in survey templates, reports and home surveys are fully compliant and pre-configured.
Simply open one of our template reports for completion and customisation based on your needs. There’s even the option of integrating existing surveys or valuation reports so you can bring all the elements of a single property together in one place.
If you want to learn more about saving time with pre-built RICS templates, book a demo today!