Searches vs Surveys

On the move? Wondering what you HAVE to do and where you may have a choice? BPK’s Duncan Carter looks at the difference between searches and surveys – and why making sure you go beyond the bare minimum is always the best option.

Moving home can be an exciting time – but also a stressful one sometimes.

There’s a lot to consider and a lot to understand. The people you will have to use to sell your own house and to buy your next one deal with home moves all day, every day. Sometimes, it might feel like they’re speaking a different language.

That’s where the right advice can be so important. And one area that often causes some confusion is around searches and surveys.

Now, contrary to what might you have been told, they’re not the same thing. That’s a common misconception we come across regularly in both our legal and estate agent businesses.

So what’s the difference?

Surveys do exactly what they say on the tin. Surveyors will attend the property for sale and evaluate it. There are different levels of surveys and buyers generally have to instruct a surveyor themselves. Solicitors are usually happy to review surveys that have been carried out – we certainly are – and pick up any points identified by the surveyor that need addressing.

It is usually the buyer’s prerogative as to whether to have a survey carried out or not, although if the buyer is buying with a mortgage the mortgage lender will insist a Valuation Report (the lowest level of survey) is carried out. Our advice would always be to have a Home Buyers Report carried out (mid range survey) at the very least. If you’re buying an older property, it’s almost always worth spending a little more to have the house checked out thoroughly. It’s the biggest purchase most people will ever make so peace of mind is priceless – but in the end, it’s up to the buyers whether they do it or not.

However, the same doesn’t apply to searchers, which reveal what information the local authorities have on a property, such as its Planning Permission and Building Regulations history. The majority of lenders require searches to be carried out and therefore they are mandatory for buyers purchasing with a mortgage.

Unlike surveys, searches are also usually submitted by Solicitors on their client’s behalf, with the outcomes shared with the buyer with any issues flagged.

Your next move

Ultimately, most people will always want a survey and they’ll have to have their searches done. However, the most important thing is always to have best advice available.

You’ve got enough to do when moving home, from packing up to sorting the removals to changing your address on the range of accounts and bills we all have today. The last thing you need is any more tasks on your list, which is where BPK can help – through our estate agency, our legal team or hopefully both. We’re different in having both estate agents and solicitors in our business so, if you’re moving, give us a call on 01228 888999.

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