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Frequently asked questions

You should be able to find answers for most of your questions below. If you have any questions that isn't listed below, please do contact us in Nottingham and we are happy to assist you.

Why do I need a HomeBuyer Report?

A HomeBuyer report contains information that will help you make a balanced judgement on whether to go ahead with the purchase of a particular property or not. It will describe and assess all the elements of the home that you are considering with Traffic light colour coding for things that need immediate attention. It also points out if any unseen expense is expected in the future.

How much will it cost?

This is dependent on the size, age and location of the property. It often costs less than some bank and building society mortgage valuation fees and much less than a Building Survey (formerly known as a Structural Survey). For a typical home it will cost you from £345 for a modern two bedroom semi, rising to £695 and above for a 5 bedroom detached Victorian house costing up to £750,000. Stephen Saunders is always pleased to give a firm quote according to individual circumstances.

Why does the Legal Adviser need to see the Report?

What does it cover?

What do I get?

Your HomeBuyer Report is comprehensive but easy to understand and will cover most aspects of the construction, services and condition. It is set out in easy to understand straightforward sections and colour coded ratings and advice. It includes a clear opinion on whether the price you have agreed is the price you should pay or a view as to what the correct price should be. It may point you in the direction of getting estimates for repairs or specialist matters on some elements before making a firm financial commitment.

The HomeBuyer Report focuses on essentials and is limited to defects that are urgent or significant in that they have a material effect on the value. The contents are explained in more detail below and on other pages of this website including the Description of the Service which includes the Standard terms of engagement and Choosing between Surveys. A copy is usually provided for you to give or email to your Legal Adviser or Solicitor or sent direct to them.

• An opinion whether the price you have agreed to pay, or are about to agree to pay for the property makes it a reasonable proposition at that price, he advises if, from his local knowledge, if there are factors likely to have future impact on the location.

• A brief description of the property, its construction and the location with relevant comments. Specific comments are given on any evidence of movement, timber decay, damp and level of insulation. Details of the condition of the various elements of the construction including the roof, chimneys, gutters, the brickwork, windows and other features. Comments are also made following an inspection of the loft, on the roof space, and on ceilings, floors, walls, fireplaces, doors, kitchens and fitted furniture and the general state of the decorations

• Observations, but not tests, are made regarding services including electricity, gas, water, heating and drainage

• The gardens, fences, garage and other permanent outbuildings are inspected. Sheds are listed but not detailed.

• Comments are made regarding any special concerns relating to leasehold properties including flats and

maisonettes, or about any obvious rights of way that could be a concern

• You are asked in advance if you noticed anything unusual or have a specific worry about, and that will be covered

• Whenever possible, Stephen Saunders will ask the present owners a series of questions about any problems with the property and whether there are any guarantees or service arrangements that you should know about before buying, and could only find out after you've moved in.

• Stephen Saunders will also report anything he knows about the history of the property or the area. He advises if he knows that the area could have an impact in the future

• You will get a summary of any defects he has found and his recommendations for the next step in dealing with them. You also receive specialist advice about any matter that he thinks you need to know before proceeding with the purchase.

• In addition to the valuation report, you also get a recommendation of the correct figure to insure the building(s) for - often very different from the estimated value

• In summary, the HomeBuyer Report service is designed to answer most of the questions that you would have about the property that you are considering buying. Without a HomeBuyer Report, you could be buying a property with serious faults that you might not know about, and only find out after paying for it or moving in!

Your Legal Adviser, usually your solicitor, is unlikely to visit the property at all. Stephen Saunders will alert them of the need to make any additional enquiries and investigations regarding guarantees, rights of way, Planning and Building Regulations matters and other points that are likely to be seen on an inspection. There are also points that they need to be aware of, when you are considering purchasing a leasehold property that includes mostly flats or maisonettes.

What do you look at?

We look at all those things that are readily and safely accessible without damaging the building or upsetting the owner. It includes looking in the roof space, checking for damp, woodworm and more. A full description is given on the Description of the Service page that includes the standard terms of engagement too.

Should I have a HomeBuyer Report or a RICS Building Survey carried out?

An RICS Building Survey (which used to be called a Full Structural Survey) is sometimes the best option but Stephen Saunders carries out HomeBuyer Reports on most typical homes. A Building Survey might be more appropriate if there have been a lot of alterations and extensions, or these are planned, and you want technical advice on what has been done or what is proposed. Naturally, these survey reports cost more.


These survey reports are prepared on a tailor-made individual basis according to the client's particular circumstances and requirements. The Standard terms of engagement for the HomeBuyer service have a provision - If on arrival at the property Stephen Saunders feels this is not the right format for this property, he would suspend the inspection and get your approval for the more lengthy and detailed type of report.

I'll be having a mortgage – won't the Bank or Building Society send a surveyor to inspect the Property?

Usually, banks will assess the property from a computer or website database. Sometimes, they simply drive-by just to check if the property actually exists. It often depends on the size of loan and with some lenders, you are not entitled to see any sort of report.

Can I use your HomeBuyer report to get a mortgage on the property?

Usually not, although Stephen Saunders has at some time carried out mortgage inspections for most major lenders. Most lenders will, quite properly, insist on having their own report and valuation that is prepared by a surveyor who is directly or indirectly employed or instructed by them. Some lenders will accept a HomeBuyer Report prepared by Stephen Saunders but please check with them first.

My lender is sending a surveyor to value the property for them and they have offered to combine this with a HomeBuyer Report or similar style service. Surely this is a better deal for me?

Remember the lender is selling you the finance and frequently the surveying company has financial ties with the lender and/or the Estate Agent. It might be cheaper but do make a total cost comparison of having the lender's surveyor carry out the basic valuation for them, and using Stephen Saunders' services for the HomeBuyer Survey Report and Valuation. Sometimes because of high administration and other charges, you often still get a cost-saving, with you getting the benefit of two surveyors' different opinions.

How quickly will I get my report?

Stephen Saunders aims to provide you the report within four working days following inspection. In urgent cases a preliminary verbal report can be given soon after inspection and the full report can be sent through an email.

When do I pay?

Stephen Saunders is required to obtain your written acknowledgement of the Terms of Engagement before sending the Report to you, and this can be dealt through an email. We normally expect you to have a cheque or other payment ready and this isn't banked until the report is sent out. You can pay by cash or by BAC's too.

I want you to go ahead – what happens next?

Stephen Saunders will need information about the property you want to buy and about any of your special concerns. If there is an estate agent involved, he will normally make the arrangements for the inspection through them. If it is a private sale, we will need the contact information of the property owner. We will also need your current address and contact details so that Terms of Engagement letter can be sent to you, often by email.

When I get the report can I talk over any matters?

Yes. Stephen Saunders hopes to answer most of the questions you are likely to ask or want to know within the report but he is happy to discuss any particular concerns or worries that you may have too. For any queries that you may have, simply get in touch with us.

If you need help choosing between a HomeBuyer report and a building survey, talk to us. Offering help and advice from the experts at Stephen Saunders.

For any questions on property valuation, call Stephen Saunders in Nottingham on:

0115 923 4482

07977 597 702

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