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Buying a house with no survey? What you need to know

If you’re buying a house then you’ll have realised there are a few additional costs beyond the price of the house itself. You may be facing extra expenses including stamp duty, legal fees, mortgage fees, removal fees and surveyors’ fees. It’s not surprising that some buyers try to cut corners and wonder: ‘do I need a survey when buying a house?’

The short answer to this is yes! There are many, many reasons that you should get a survey and we’re confident you’ll be glad you did!

What is a property survey?

A thorough property survey is carried out by a RICS Chartered Surveyor who will check the property’s condition including subsidence, damp, dry rot, wet rot, a leaky roof, cracked walls, woodworm, rotten window frames, dangerous wiring, asbestos and invasive plants. From serious problems such as structural instability to minor snags such as chipped paint, you will gain in-depth information about the property before you commit to buying it.

Using the information in the professional report, you may be able to negotiate the price or ask the vendor to fix problems before you move in. At the very least you’ll have a good idea of what you’re actually buying, giving you peace of mind before your removals van arrives.

Do I need a survey when buying a house?

Although buying a house without a survey is legal, it’s not a good idea. Also, in certain circumstances, your mortgage lender and/or insurer may insist on evidence of a survey before lending money or offering cover.

Why should you get a survey when buying a house?

Getting a survey provides you with in-depth information about the property you’re thinking of buying. If there are no problems: you can confidently go ahead and if there are problems you then have three choices:

  • Pull out of the sale
  • Go ahead with the sale prepared for future expenses
  • Ask the vendor to fix issues/reduce the price based on the surveyor’s findings.

Buyers have lots of reasons for thinking of skipping the house survey but here are some that we’ve debunked:

The house looks fine to me

Our Chartered Surveyors have passed numerous exams and have years of experience, enabling them to alert you to problems that may be extremely difficult to spot. Even if a house appears in pristine condition, can you be sure there’s no woodworm in the structural beams? Can you confidently tell the difference between cosmetic cracks and signs of subsidence? Could you identify Japanese knotweed in the garden? Asking a professional to officially create a report will put your mind at rest.

A survey is too expensive

Actually, a house survey will cost a mere fraction of the house price and could save you money in the long run. A few hundred pounds for a trusted, expert survey could avoid thousands of pounds spent on repairs later on.

My mortgage lender has already done a survey

A mortgage valuation is not the same as a property survey. It is a lender’s risk assessment. Their valuation only determines if they’ll be able to get their money back by selling the property if necessary. They only look at the outside (sometimes not in person) and are unlikely to discover any underlying issues.

My solicitor will discover any problems

Your solicitor/conveyancer should carry out searches with local authorities to find out about reported problems with the site and the local area. They won’t go into fine detail and look at the fabric of the building.

The house is only a few years old so there won’t be any issues

This is a risky assumption and not worth making. It’s true that a newer home is less likely to have structural problems… but it’s not impossible. There may have been mistakes or shortcuts which are expensive to remedy. There are different levels of survey available to match the age and apparent condition of a property, so although you might not need a Level 3 survey, you could choose a less expensive option to put your mind at rest. 

What survey do I need when buying a house?

There are three different levels of survey to choose from when buying a property:

For conventional and newer properties where you’re not expecting to find any issues.

For properties in reasonable condition, under 100 years old.

This most in-depth survey option is for properties which are large, old, unusual, in poor condition, have been extensively altered, or you’re planning to make drastic changes yourself.

As you can see, there’s an appropriate survey for every kind of property ensuring you don’t overpay while getting peace of mind.

Get in touch

Buying a house without survey is always a risk. To avoid the anxiety of the unknown and to ensure you’re making a sound investment, a little expense at this stage could save you thousands in the long run!

If you’d like any more advice on house surveys, would like to book or need help choosing the most appropriate survey for a property, please get in touch. Our knowledgeable, friendly team will be happy to help.