What’s the difference between a survey and a valuation?




Found your dream home? If you want to find out what lies beneath the surface, a valuation alone won’t cut it. Here’s why.

Many people wrongly assume that a valuation is the same as a survey – and use the term interchangeably – but the two are very different. We’ve set out the key differences.

A valuation is PURELY for a mortgage lender’s benefit

The purpose of a valuation is to satisfy the lender that the property you are buying is worth the amount you’re paying for it – or at least amount it’s lending on it – before it approves your mortgage.

It’s NOT for the benefit of you, the buyer, and it won’t point out structural problems or issues such as damp and dry rot.

That’s why if you are buying a property outright (without a mortgage), you won’t need to get a valuation done.

A survey, on the other hand, is a health-check on property, and will provide you with an independent account of its condition and highlight any potential problems.

A valuation only takes a few minutes, while a survey can take much longer

A valuation is just a cursory inspection which could be done and dusted in 15 minutes. In fact, many mortgage lenders won’t even visit the property – they will carry out a remote ‘desktop’ valuation instead using their own database of addresses.

A survey will take a lot longer. Depending on which level of survey you opt for – as well as the size, age and condition of the property – this could mean up to a few hours.

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You will always have to pay for a survey – but a valuation could be free

If you choose to get a survey on the property you are buying, you will have to pay for it. The cost will depend on the type of survey you opt for.

The most basic Condition Report costs in the region of £250, while the HomeBuying Report – the mid-table version – will ring it at between £350 and £400. For the most comprehensive Building Survey, prices start from around £750.

By contrast, a valuation is much cheaper. The cost is based on the value and size of the property, but £150 is typical. However, lenders offer some mortgage deals with the valuation thrown in for free.

Points to bear in mind about valuations and surveys

A survey is only a ‘visual’ inspection of a property: while you might assume your surveyor will climb into the loft or up onto the roof, this will not happen unless you have paid extra for a bells-and-whistles Building Survey.

The onus is on you to get the most out of the survey: ask the surveyor if you can accompany them. That way, you can ask questions as you go around the property together. Failing that, organise a telephone conversation post-survey to talk through the written report.

In certain cases, a valuation may be all you need: most of the time, it makes sense to get a survey on a new home you are buying. That’s because, if it uncovers problems, you can either factor the cost of fixing them into your budget, or negotiate the price down accordingly. You may even decide to pull out altogether.

However, there is no legal requirement to have a survey. And in some cases, you may be happy to proceed with the sale without one. For example, it you are buying a new-build which is still under a homebuilder’s 10-year warranty, such as NHBC’s Buildmark.

You can request other types of survey: You may use the results of the initial survey to commission other types of supporting survey, which investigate more specific defects such as damp, timber decay, insect attacks and invasive weed control.

You may also be interested in…

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