The property market can be overwhelming, filled with jargon and complicated processes guaranteed to befuddle first-time sellers and seasoned veterans alike. Our detailed Property Selling Guide aims to demystify the industry to give you the tools to confidently sell your home (and for the price you want, too).
In the latest instalment of our Property Selling Guide, we’ll be discussing Home Reports for sellers – from what they are to what they contain and other vital information like when you’ll need one, how long they’re valid for and much more. Let’s get into it.
What Is a Home Report?
Introduced in 2008 by the Scottish Government, Home Reports are a mandatory part of the buying and selling process and aim to equip potential buyers with the facts they need to make an informed choice on buying a property.
A Home Report is a property assessment conducted by a qualified surveyor and paid for by you, the seller. In the report, you’ll find compiled information about your property, with details on everything from its condition to its market value, energy efficiency, accessibility rating and more.
The Home Report is split into three parts: the Single Survey, the Property Questionnaire and the Energy Performance Report.
The Single Survey
The Single Survey part of the Home Report is carried out by an independent chartered surveyor, who uses a visual inspection to evaluate your home’s condition and accessibility. In this section, you’ll be able to see any repairs the property might need, as well as a professional estimate of the home’s worth – also known as the valuation.
The Property Questionnaire
The Property Questionnaire provides buyers with essential information about the property that only the seller is likely to know.
Covering 16 different categories and completed by you, the questions are designed to be straightforward enough to allow you to confidently answer. You’ll be asked about everything from council tax band to details on renovations you’ve carried out, as well as a list of any adverse conditions which have affected the home within the last 5 years (e.g. asbestos, fire, flooding, rot and storm damage).
If any questions are too difficult to answer, your solicitor or the chartered surveyor completing the Home Report should be able to help.
The Energy Performance Report
The Energy Performance Report measures your property’s energy efficiency and will estimate how much it costs to heat, light and use hot water per year. Inside you’ll find details on the home’s environmental impact (measured via carbon dioxide emissions) alongside helpful advice on improvements you can make to boost its energy efficiency.
When Do I Need to Get a Home Report?
Any second-hand property which comes to market after the 1st of December 2008, is legally required to have a Home Report (with a few exceptions).Your property’s Home Report must be no older than 12 weeks when your home goes to market. Moreover, if for any reason you take your home off the market temporarily, it must be for a period of no longer than 4 weeks if you want to use the same Home Report. Any longer and you’ll need to pay to have a new one conducted.
Potential buyers are entitled to request to see the Home Report at any time via you or your estate agent/solicitor. This must be handed over within 9 days of the request being made, otherwise, you risk being reported to your local council’s trading standards.
However, there are a select number of exceptions to a buyer’s right to access the Home Report:
- If it is unlikely they have the means to buy the property
- If they are not genuinely interested in purchasing the property
- If you (the seller) are not prepared to sell to the buyer who requested the Home Report
How Can I Order a Home Report?
Your solicitor/estate agent will typically sort this out for you. While you can also order one directly from a number of providers, we would recommend that you use your solicitor/estate agent instead – not only will they most likely have a pre-existing relationship with the surveyor, they will also have ample experience in judging the accuracy of the Home Report assessment provided, meaning you’re guaranteed to get a professional and detailed service.
How Much Will the Home Report Cost?
The cost of a Home Report varies, but usually, higher-value homes will pay more for the assessment. Your solicitor/estate agent should be able to give you a definitive number before you proceed with the process.
What If the Surveyor Identifies an Issue with My Property?
If the chartered surveyor finds any problems with your home during the assessment, you have several options available to you:
- Do nothing and market the property in its current condition – if you go down this route, buyers will be made aware of the issues once they’ve read the Home Report. It’s then their prerogative whether or not they’re willing to take on the property’s problems. You may find that buyers have the budget available to make any repairs needed themselves. On the other hand, this can easily turn buyers away. Consider who you’re selling to – for example, first-time buyers are unlikely to have the means to fix up a property.
- Obtain the cost of fixing the issue and make this information known to the buyer – including the cost of the repairs in the Home Report may encourage more buyers to bid on your property as they’ll know whether it’s within their budget.
- Fix the problem yourself before marketing your property – if you have the means to fix the issue yourself, consider how this might give you a larger return on investment when selling. For example, you may reap more back during the open bidding than you paid for the repairs.