Having met with your mortgage customer, establishing that they have found a property and had an offer accepted, it is time to determine their suitability. You would first undertake a full affordability assessment, and analyse their income and outgoings in order to confirm how much they may be able to borrow.

Once the amount has been clarified and confirmed with an agreement in principle, a full application may be completed for the property that they wish to purchase, which includes contacting a surveyor.

A property survey is designed to check that the building being purchased has no obvious defects. There are three main ones available, depending on the customer’s requirements: a basic valuation, a homebuyer’s, and a full structural survey.

Basic valuation

This is the standard report required by the mortgage provider, which is partly done to prove to the lender that the property is at least worth the amount being borrowed. This is a limited inspection that would not pick up all defects.

Homebuyer’s report

This is a middle of the range survey, which is slightly more expensive than the basic valuation, but it is carried out to a standard form that has been set by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RCIS). This report is generally aimed at properties that were built in the last 150 years and focuses on clarifying the:

• Condition of the property
• Suitability of insulation, drainage and damp proofing
• Open market value of the property
• Defects identified in accessible parts of the building, which may have an impact on its value
• Factors that a customer and conveyancer need to considered before committing to the exchange of contract

Full structural survey

This is the most costly survey, but as a result it is the most detailed. It looks at roof coverings, joinery, drainage, garages and outbuildings, to name but a few. It is a more favourable option for those considering buying an older property, as it will establish any areas for concern, as well as remedial actions that may be needed.

If the customer wants something specific checked, it needs to be mentioned to the surveyor. They do not have to check areas that may not initially be accessible, such as the corner of the loft, but will do so if you were to specifically ask them.

The survey is a key part in the mortgage process, as it allows the lender and the customer to satisfy themselves as to the property’s suitability.

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