The BIG change that could be coming to home surveys

Do you think it’s time for a survey shake-up?

Assessing a property’s condition is a key part of the buying process. Yet despite this fact, some would-be homeowners may be prepared to forgo having one on their dream property as a result of cost considerations or general confusion over which home survey is right for them.

Related: The cost of moving house – and how you can make savings

Now the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) is hoping to take steps to remedy this situation, by launching a consultation on a new home survey standard that is set to become mandatory for surveyors.

house with brick wall and white door

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Lizzie Orme)

One key proposed change would be to refer to surveys by level – i.e. one, two and three – rather than by their current names which are as follows: RICS Condition Report, RICS HomeBuyer Report and RICS Building Survey.

The 30-page consultation also outlines measures to help remove unnecessary jargon from surveys and make language easier to understand, including explaining survey technicalities.

room with blue furnishing with white roof

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Simon Whitmore)

It also proposed that RICS members and RICS regulated firms must take all reasonable steps to ensure that clients ‘understand the differences between the levels of service, including the extent and limitations of each option’.

On the consultation Paul Bagust, RICS global property director, said: ‘As part of our commitment to promote and enforce the highest standards in the residential sector, we are now leading an extensive public consultation to deliver a standard which ensures transparency, consistent competence and high level of service as expected from RICS professionals.

‘Attaining the highest professional and ethical standards is vital to provide consumers assurance that work undertaken by home surveyors meets these standards.’

stairways with checked floor mat

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole)

On the consultation Zoopla consumer spokesperson Laura Howard said:

'A more transparent 'menu' of survey types could certainly help consumers develop a better understanding of that part of the home buying process, whilst also alleviating some of the stresses so commonly felt when moving home.

'Today's consumers have a stronger appetite to learn about the buying and selling process of their home than ever before.

'There are a raft of different survey types to choose from and consumers are not always aware of the right one for their circumstances. Many buyers can also mistake a mortgage lender's valuation for a survey.

'Commissioning a survey on a property you are looking to buy is good practice as, if it reveals any problems, it could justify lowering your offer price. In rare cases, major issues such as subsidence and dry rot could even prompt you to pull out of the purchase altogether.'

Those who have commissioned or are considering commissioning a home survey can offer their opinion on the consultation – which ends on July 29th – by completing the Public Questionnaire.

Did you feel there was room for improvement in your own home survey experience?