Countrywide Home Surveys
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Mistaking a mortgage valuation for a survey could prove a costly mistake

There have been many reasons for potential buyers to delay or totally abandon their shorter term property-related aspirations over the past 12 to 18 months. This has been largely due to a number of well-publicised influencing factors such as the lingering ramifications of the pandemic, the cost of living crisis, higher mortgage rates, heightened affordability constraints plus general economic and geopolitical uncertainty.

A recent survey, commissioned by Home Sale Pack, also found that a huge majority of current buyers have been postponing their search until gaining a greater understanding of political intentions towards the housing market as we move towards a general election. This was illustrated in the fact that 82% of buyers said they had been waiting to hear Jeremy Hunt’s Spring Budget statement before making their final decision on whether or not to move full throttle into the process of buying a new home.

One reason for waiting was to see whether or not the government planned to introduce any homebuying incentives in the Budget. Although little emerged from this political event to fuel the housing market fire, buyer appetite appears not to have dampened with 78% of buyers now set to continue with their purchase plans.

With activity levels set to rise, the amount of support required by potential buyers will also need to increase to ensure that the homebuying journey runs as smoothly and seamlessly as possible.

An often overlooked but vital juncture within this journey is the survey.

As a firm with a long surveying history, we often hear the worrying sentence ‘I don’t need a survey because I am getting a mortgage’. This tends to come with the assumption that a mortgage valuation essentially does the same job as a survey and will involve a physically inspection of the property.

To clarify, this is certainly NOT the case.

As part of the mortgage application process, the lender will arrange and conduct a mortgage valuation. It’s really important to point out that this is for the sole use of the mortgage provider and you, the borrower, won’t receive a copy of the report. In addition, the mortgage valuation may not always involve a physical inspection or visit to the property as it may come in the form of an Automated Valuation Model (AVM) or a desktop valuation for the more ‘standard’ property types.

Lenders will always recommend a home survey when buying a property, as this provides the purchaser with a report on the property’s condition which is tailored to their needs. Generally speaking, and without going into too much detail at this point, there are 3 levels of survey – Home Survey Level 1, 2 and 3 and it’s always best to speak to a surveyor who is a member of RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) to decide which is the most relevant depending upon the property and the risks that need assessing.

The reality is that there remains a significant knowledge gap around the difference between a survey and a mortgage valuation, in addition to how surveys can highlight any serious problems and advise buyers of any works which may need to be completed in order to get the property up to their desired standards. And this is vital information which offers valuable piece of mind for what is usually the largest financial decision that people will make over the course of their lifetimes.

It’s essential for this knowledge gap to be addressed as early as possible in the homebuying process, meaning estate agents, mortgage brokers, surveyors, solicitors and lenders all need to help buyers realise the value of a survey. If not, then those buyers who think they don’t need a survey because their mortgage lender is arranging one could be exposed to unknown property-related issues and potentially serious financial implications further down the line.

Helen Stead, Head of Countrywide Home Surveys

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Countrywide Home Surveys is a trading name for Countrywide Surveyors Limited, registered in England and Wales under company no: 01954031.  Registered Office 2nd Floor Boundary House, 4 County Place, Chelmsford, United Kingdom, CM2 0RE.  VAT number 500 2481 05

Countrywide Surveyors Limited is regulated by RICS for the provision of surveying services. This means we agree to uphold the RICS Rules of Conduct for Firms and all other applicable mandatory professional practice requirements of RICS, which can be found at www.rics.org
As an RICS regulated firm we have committed to cooperating with RICS in ensuring compliance with its standards. The firm’s nominated RICS Responsible Principal is Rebecca Freeman, Director of Field Operations, contact 01332 813096.

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