Affiliate Chartered Surveyors
Our chosen Chartered Surveyors are Anderson Wilde & Harris and Terry Firrell (FRICS). They provide professional and reliable property valuations for us. We have been working closely with our affiliate FRICS surveyors for many years and they have extensive surveying experience, offering expert advice on various property matters including:
If you are looking for a survey to be carried out on your property, please contact our offices and we will be happy to advise you.
All lenders require a basic valuation. They need to know that they are not lending you more than the property is worth, and that if you sell it off, you will get at least as much money back as you paid for it.
The basic valuation is commissioned by your mortgage lender, and is for their benefit, the cost of which in most cases is borne by yourselves. If the house is valued lower than the purchase price then your mortgage offer may be withdrawn, or offered on the condition that specified work is carried out on it first
The valuer arrives at a value by comparing the property with similar ones, taking factors such as age, condition and location into account. The valuation also points out any very obvious major faults which could affect the property's value, but is very brief and is not nearly as detailed as a homebuyer's survey or a full structural survey.
The basic valuation takes about half an hour, and costs around £300, depending on the price of the house. Some mortgage lenders waive the fee for the basic valuation as part of a package to attract your custom.
Home Condition Report
The RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) introduced the new RICS Home Condition Report (HBR) in July 2009. Initially this ran alongside the previous RICS Homebuyer Survey and Valuation (HSV) which had been in use for a number of years. The HSV was phased out in March 2010 and the new HomeBuyer Report became the only one that was licensed by the RICS.
The report was quite a radical departure from earlier formats and was developed following considerable market research and feedback from the general public. It was designed to be a user-friendly report with the minimum of technical jargon. The most significant change was the introduction of colour coded Condition Ratings usually referred to as the 'Traffic Lights System'. The surveyor must rate each element of the property using one of the following Condition Ratings:
Condition Rating 1 (green) - No repair is currently needed. The property must be maintained in the normal way.
Condition Rating 2 (amber) - Defects that need repairing or replacing but are not considered to be either serious or urgent. The property must be maintained in the normal way.
Condition Rating 3 (red) - Defects that are serious and/or need to be repaired, replaced or investigated urgently.
The report is now quite lengthy, usually in the region of 25 pages, but it is divided into easily readable and logical sections as follows:
1.A. Introduction to the report;
2.B. About the inspection;
3.C. Overall opinion and summary of the condition ratings;
4.D. About the property;
5.E. Outside the property;
6.F. Inside the property;
8.H. Grounds (including shared areas for flats);
9.I. Issues for your legal advisers;
12.L. Surveyor's declaration.
The report will also include a number of appendices which provide useful information about what the purchaser needs to do next and, particularly in the case of leasehold properties, any enquiries that legal advisers need to make prior to exchange of contracts. The new format also allows the surveyor to add photographs to the report.
Section C is particularly useful to the buyer as it gives an overview of the Condition Ratings for each element of the building and includes a fairly concise section, providing the surveyor's overall opinion of the property. This will include a comment as to whether or not the surveyor considers the agreed purchase price to be reasonable. Normally this will be the section that the client turns to first.
Section D includes a brief section related to energy efficiency and will include reference to the Energy Performance Certificate that must be prepared before a property is marketed.
Section G will give an overview of the condition of the services based on a visual inspection. However, the surveyor will not test the services. If the property is vacant, the services may have been turned off or disconnected. The surveyor will generally not be able to turn services on unless the vendor is present and is able to turn them on for him/her. The surveyor will recommend further investigations if these are considered appropriate. Often it will be necessary to have the gas, electric and central heating systems tested in older properties.
Section J is a new element of the report and is used to identify risks to the building, grounds or occupants. This could cover such problems as potential flooding, the presence of asbestos based materials, an unprotected pond that could be a danger to small children or lack of safety glazing to doors.
The feedback received to date indicates that the new Homebuyer Report has been well received by the general public and that the Condition Rating System, in particular, is considered to be very helpful to potential purchasers.
The RICS also offer a product called a 'Condition Report'. This is a simplified version of the Homebuyer Report and includes many of the elements discussed above, including the 'Traffic Lights System' for flagging up defects. The Condition Report does not, however, include a Valuation or advice on future repairs and maintenance. The Condition Report can be commissioned by vendors prior to putting their property on the market, to prevent unforeseen issues cropping up when their potential purchaser has a mortgage valuation or survey carried out.
This is the most comprehensive (and the most costly) type of survey. It is suitable for any building, but is useful in respect of older buildings (75 years and upwards) and properties which have had lots of alterations or extensions, or which you intend to alter or renovate.
The surveyor will check the property thoroughly, looking at everything that is visible or easily accessible to examine the soundness of the structure, its general condition and all major or minor faults. More specialist surveys can also be carried out on aspects such as foundations, damp proofing, or tree roots, either by a specialist within the firm of surveyors or by an independent specialist surveyor.
The report you receive will be extremely thorough and very long, as surveyors are legally obliged to inform you of all the findings of the survey. Don't necessarily be put off if it seems that endless defects are listed - every house has some defects and surveyors tend to show the worst-case scenario for anything they discover. You should be provided with a list of prices for repairs and maintenance work, which will also tend to over- rather than under-estimate prices.
A full structural survey normally takes much longer than the one or two hours required for the homebuyer's report. The survey report can also take a long time to produce, so this is a much lengthier process than for a homebuyer's report. You will probably have to wait up to two weeks after the inspection for the report, for which there is no standardised reporting format. A buildings survey costs anything up to £1,000, depending on the price of the house.
Should you extend?
Extending a shorter lease to a decent length is important to a property's marketing value. When you extend, it's usually by 90 years.
Check how long you've got left. The cost of extending a lease below 80 years rises considerably. (This is because after that you will pay 50% of the flat's 'marriage value' on top of the usual lease extension price.)
Some mortgage lenders are even reluctant to lend on properties with leases below 80 years and your property will be virtually un-mortgagable with a lease under 60 years.
There's no urgency for those with 90 years or more left who are staying put. However, everyone – whether selling or staying – should start thinking about this once their lease gets to 83 years
This is the time to contact one of our Affiliate Surveyors who can act for you.
Leaseholders who want to either extend their lease or buy a share of their freehold, can do so through a process called collective enfranchisement.
Under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993, as amended by the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002, a group of leaseholders are entitled to apply to the freeholder of their building to purchase the freehold.
Why should I purchase the freehold?
The majority of leaseholders opt to purchase the freehold in order to run their own affairs and to have direct control on the management and maintenance of the building. It is also another way to obtain a lease extension if lease terms are low.
Can I purchase the freehold?
There are certain criteria that must be met before you can apply to the landlord for purchase of the freehold and they are as follows:
1. The building must have a minimum of two flats;
2. Where there are only two flats in the building both leaseholders must participate;
3. If the building was originally a single house (and since converted) and there are less than five flats, the freeholder, provided he carried out the original conversion, must not live in the building if the leaseholders wish to qualify;
4. The number of leaseholders who wish to participate must represent at least 50% of the number of flats in the building;
5. There must not be more than 25% of the internal floor area of the building in non-residential use, for instance a shop or office. Resident's parking spaces are not included in calculating the floor areas.
This is not a fully comprehensive list of requirements but should cover most eventualities. If the leaseholders do not fulfil the above requirements they may still wish to apply to the freeholder but only outside the terms of the 1993 Act.
How do I get started?
Initially then you will want a professional valuation report which can be carried out by one of our Affiliate Chartered Surveyors. It gives a valuation of the cost of the purchase and can be used as a basis in subsequent negotiations with the landlord. The same report can also be used if the matter goes to tribunal.
In these days of high divorce and separation rates, it is usually necessary for matrimonial houses or shared property to be valued to decide upon how the assets will be shared. Many matrimonial valuations are (following 'The Woolf' report), usually carried out by a qualified surveyor/valuer jointly appointed by both parties in the divorce with an independent valuation report provided for and to the court. Valuations are also carried out for the benefit of single parties for negotiation purposes.
Valuations of an individual property asset need to comply with the Court Procedure Rules (Rule 35) and can be carried out by one of our Affiliate chartered surveyors.
They are able to undertake these matrimonial valuations and provide reports compliant with Rule 35 of the CPR 1998. In most cases they are jointly appointed by instructing solicitors (on behalf of each party) to provide an independent valuation report for the courts. Harris and Company's Affiliate Chartered surveyors are able to provide matrimonial valuation reports in respect of the matrimonial house and/or other shared residential, investment or commercial property.