An RICS Home Buyer Report is a type of property survey that was introduced in 2010 and is strongly recommended for anyone buying a home. The report replaced the former system known as the Home Buyer Survey & Valuation in March 2010 and is an updated and modernised version, often known as the HBR.
There are now two options when you are Buying a property, with regards to the HBR – from 2016, two options were announced by RICS (the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors). The standard survey is still available and there is also a version that includes a valuation and reinstatement costs. What this means is that you no longer have to use a RICS member to get a survey and the market valuation as part of the report is optional. The two options are:
- A Home Buyer Report with a survey – this includes all the features of the Condition Report from RICS and advice on defects that may affect the property in the future
- A Home Buyer Report with survey and valuation – includes all the features of the HBR and also a market valuation and insurance rebuild cost of the property as well as advice on defects that may affect the property in the future
Changes in the HBR
Currently, the Home Buyer Report with survey costs more than the original Home Buyer Survey & Valuation because it is a more consumer-friendly, streamlined format. The average cost for a Home Buyer Report starts from £400 but you can shop around for prices from different experts and get the best value for money. Always go for a regulated RICS surveyor or a company with a long history of carrying out these reports.
While the HBR was created to replace the Home Buyer Survey and Valuation, there are some differences in what they offer. Difference include:
- A clearer layout so you can easily find the details you need
- A new section on the energy efficiency of a property in line with the latest home buying reform
- Rating for the property that is improved, clarified and use a colour coded condition system
- More professional, modern design
- HBR can only be carried out by a member of the RICS
Both of these systems are seen as more advanced than the basic mortgage valuation but less than a comprehensive Full Building Survey which is used to get a survey to inspect the entire property. The aim of the HBR is to spotlight urgent matters that can have a substantial impact on the value of the property. It covers all the major sections of the property visible to a surveyor but will not see them lift carpets, flooring or look at the wiring.
What is included
So while the HBR doesn’t include as much information as a full survey would, there are still a good number of elements it does include. The Home Buyer Report details:
- Details of major faults in easy to reach parts of the property that can impact its value
- Details of urgent problems that should have special attention before signing a contract to buy the property
- Damp test results from walls around the property
- Details of the condition of timbers in the building and any signs of woodworm or rot
- Assessment of areas including damp-proofing, drainage and insulation but drains are not tested
- An estimate for the rebuilding cost of the property for insurance purposes
- Background information on the location and the property itself
- A valuation of the current market price (optional)
A summary of the main points will be provided but the full document should also be read. It is written in plain English rather than in technical language, so anyone can read and understand the content.
The process uses a three-tier condition rating for the property to describe its condition and how urgently it needs repairing:
- No repairs currently needed
- Defects need repairing or replacing but not considered serious or urgent
- Defects that are serious and need either further investigation, repairs or replacement urgently
Why do I need a Home Buyer Report?
Moving home is a costly experience and it is easy to see the HBR as just another cost to add to the list and therefore consider omitting it. But there are a number of solid reasons why you want to have one.
For starters, it offers peace of mind to let you know about any possible problems before you buy a house. We have all heard stories in the past of people buying a house based on what is seen and finding terrible, expensive defects when they move in. Having an HBR reduces the risk of this happening to you.
If there are defects or issues, this can be grounds to open renegotiations about the price of the property. For example, will the homeowner drop the price by a set figure to cover the cost of the work highlighted in the HBR or are they going to do the work themselves prior to the sale?
You may realise that the problems are simply too much, and you don’t want to go ahead with the sale. This means you can avoid the heartache and extra costs of pulling out at a later stage. Or you may simply work your budget around to be able to cover the cost of the work but are happy to do this because you really want the house.
Get the right help
The system behind the Home Buyers Report (often still called a Home Buyers Survey) is to offer protection for you as a home buyer. It is often the case that the seller has no idea of the defects within their properties and helps them make decisions about the price of the house, work that needs doing and other decisions.
It also allows you to make an informed decision about a property that represents a major financial and life commitment – after all, you want the property to be right for you and your family in every possible way. And the HBR can help you do this.