What is a Homebuyer Report and do I really need one?

An image of a home for saleGet the right advice before you buy

The primary objective of a surveyor is to provide clients with professional advice regarding the condition of a property. This advice helps buyers decide whether they should purchase the property or re-negotiate a better price.

A HomeBuyer Report advises only on areas of the property which are visible. Damages that aren’t visible – under floorboards, behind walls, etc. – aren’t covered. A surveyor will focus on both the general condition of the property and any aspects that could affect the current or future price; therefore, the report is focused on significant matters which must be discussed upfront. However, some companies will tailor the report. For example, the Architects Corporation will provide a report based around the budget and level of detail that’s required.

What does a HomeBuyer Report contain?

The report itself is presented in a standard format that’s universal across RICS regions and territories. In short, it will contain three separate sections; the visual report, the concise report and the property valuation. Other subsections could include:

Urgent Repairs – damages that must be addressed immediately such as gas and water leaks.

Matters that require further investigation – suspected issues that could develop in the future, such as clogged drains.

General upgrades– parts of the property that will need to be addressed in the future, such as replacement windows.

Accessibility – areas that were not accessible during the inspection.

Standard formatting requirements must be followed and should follow a seven step sequence: Introduction and Opinion; Property and Location; Building; Services and Site; Legal and Other Matters; Summary; and Valuation.

The concluding section of a HomeBuyers Report should have an overall valuation of the property. This should be split up into two different sections which cover the Open Market Value and the Reinstatement Value.

Do I really need a HomeBuyer Report?

According to I Plan 2 Move the average price of hiring a surveyor to complete a HomeBuyers Report is $700; however, this can significantly vary according the contractor; size of the property; and location of the property. While this fee may seem excessive, it could save you a great deal of money in the long run as you can use the information to negotiate a better price or ensure the issues are dealt with before you move in. A home is probably the most expensive purchase you’ll ever make, so going the extra mile can certainly be beneficial.

While you may think assessing the state of a property is an easy enough job to conduct yourself, you will most likely miss out key assessments. A surveyor will not only have a keen eye for detail, but will have a better idea about how to value the property and how much the damages could cost.

In conclusion, getting a HomeBuyer Report is your prerogative and there’s no telling whether it will save you money or not. If in doubt, you could ask the seller whether they will be willing to cover the costs of the report. While they are not obliged to do this, it’s always worth asking. Many sellers will be more than happy to cover the fees as it could place them in a better position, even if you choose against purchasing the property.

For a detailed overview on home surveys or to find a certified surveyor in your local area, visit RICS.org.

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