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Ask the experts

Whether you’re buying a house, thinking of buying a house, or just keen to understand more about the homebuying process, we’re property experts and we’re here to help.

We’ve pulled together a list of the most commonly asked questions, but if you can’t find the answer you want below, feel free to email us with your question to helpline@esurv.co.uk and one of our experts will answer it for you. Alternatively, if you’d prefer to speak with someone, you can request a call back by calling 0800 169 9661.

What do surveyors actually do?

Chartered surveyors are property experts who assess the value and condition of an existing building or site, producing a report for a client that details problems (including structural or environmental), potential solutions, and their costs.

They also advise on obtaining planning permission, renovating a property and environmental issues, and have access to services and information that are difficult for most homebuyers to uncover.

Using a Chartered surveyor means that you are getting a professional opinion on your intended purchase, based on a thorough and accurate investigation of the property.

Who or what is the RICS?

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors – or RICS – is the world’s leading professional body for qualifications and standards in land, property and construction.

e.surv is regulated by the RICS and all our Chartered surveyors have individual RICS certification. This is your guarantee of a quality service as the RICS requires its members to update their knowledge and competence during their working life through Continuing Professional Development (or CPD).

The RICS has around 100,000 qualified members and supports the professional development of more than 50,000 students and trainees in over 140 countries worldwide. There are three levels of designation awarded by the RICS.

  • Associate members may use ‘AssocRICS’ after their names
  • Professional Members may use ‘MRICS’ after their names
  • Fellows may use ‘FRICS’ after their names

Only members with the designations MRICS and FRICS can be known as Chartered surveyors.

I’ve applied for a mortgage. What happens next?

When you apply for a mortgage, your lender will check the information you’ve provided on your mortgage application form. This process is known as “underwriting” and typically includes credit referencing, validating how much income you have, and assessing the suitability of the property for security purposes.

Your lender will normally instruct a surveyor to inspect the property after the credit referencing stage, around a week after you’ve submitted your application. This is a valuation, not a survey. Valuation reports are returned electronically and usually within tight timescales dictated by the lender – normally three working days from instruction. Bear in mind that receipt of your formal mortgage offer can take up to two or three weeks from application.

Do all lenders ask for a valuation?

Yes. All lenders are required by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to obtain a property valuation. A valuation is not the same thing as a survey report.

How does a surveyor produce a valuation report for a lender?

Whenever a surveyor conducts a valuation of a residential property for mortgage lending, they must follow a code of practice that includes guidance on the extent of the inspection and the method of the valuation. The report usually follows a standard format required by the lender.

A valuation is normally supported by comparable evidence – typically three recent, similar transactions to support the surveyor’s opinion of the value of the property. These ‘comparables’ may not be identical to the property being valued, but the surveyor will use them to help arrive at a valuation figure through a process of comparison and weighting. It’s important to understand that ‘asking prices’ for similar properties on the market yet still unsold are not considered as ‘comparable evidence’ – this is often misunderstood.

If my lender has offered me a mortgage based on a valuation, does that mean the property is ok?

No, it simply means that the property has been accepted as security for the loan by the mortgage provider. It does not necessarily mean it’s worth the figure you’re paying for it, or that there are no defects that require remedial works. Only a comprehensive survey report is designed to highlight potential defects in the property you’re thinking of buying.

Haven’t I already paid my lender for this?

If you paid your lender a valuation fee, this is used so that the lender can assess whether the property can be used as security for the loan.

Do I have the right to see a copy of the lender’s valuation report?

No, your lender is not obliged to provide you with a copy of the mortgage valuation report and when we undertake a valuation on behalf of your lender, we’re generally unable to discuss the content of the report with you directly.

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

There is actually a very important distinction between a mortgage valuation and a survey.

A mortgage valuation report is prepared to enable your mortgage lender to decide if a property is one that it wants to lend on. To be clear, a mortgage valuation only answers the questions the lender has as to whether the property offers suitable security for your loan. It doesn’t answer any questions that may be important to you or your own personal interests and it doesn’t tell you the condition of the property.

In comparison, a survey report prepared is for the buyer not the lender. It provides independent professional advice on the condition of the property – including defects – prior to committing to a purchase. Without a survey, a buyer should not buy.

Why do I need a survey?

Buying a house represents one of the biggest financial commitments you’re likely to make. Your survey report is prepared specifically for you, not your lender. It provides you with information about the condition of the property you’re thinking of buying and a clear summary of the key risks associated with your purchase before you commit to buying.

Does a valuation/survey come with a guarantee?

No, but e.surv is a member of the Ombudsman Scheme: Property. Our customer care commitment includes a published Complaints Handling Procedure and our Chartered surveyors are covered by Professional Indemnity Insurance.

How do I instruct a survey? Do I need to go through a solicitor?

No, you can instruct a survey yourself. Contact us today to book a survey.

Which type of survey do I need?

There are three types of residential survey. If you’re unsure about the right survey for you, take a look at our product comparison guide.

If you are still unsure about which report to choose, call our dedicated Helpline free on 0800 169 9661.

Can I talk to my surveyor if I have a question?

If we’re conducting a mortgage valuation on behalf of your lender, we will not be able to discuss the content of the valuation report with you.

However, if you’ve purchased an RICS Building Survey, your surveyor will talk to you either before or after your survey has been completed.

If you’ve purchased a RICS HomeBuyer Report, your surveyor will talk to you after the report has completed if you make this request.

And when purchasing a RICS Condition Report, it’s possible to add the option of speaking to your surveyor for either fifteen or thirty minutes after your report has been completed. This option is available to add to your purchase when booking online, or when calling our helpline to order your report.

What is comparable evidence?

Comparable evidence is an essential part of the valuation process, during which surveyors use their experience and knowledge to arrive at their valuation. They will analyse recent property transactions in the local market, typically referencing three similar transactions to support their opinion of the value of the property.

Is there anything I can do if a seller accepts a higher offer on a property over my offer?

The practice of a vendor accepting a higher offer for a property even though previously a lower offer had been accepted subject to contract is often referred to as ‘gazumping’. Neither gazumping nor ‘gazundering’ (when a buyer makes an offer that is accepted subject to contract then refuses to proceed shortly before exchange of contracts, except at a reduced price) is illegal. The only way to avoid gazumping is to enter into what is known as a ‘lock out agreement’, if the seller is willing. You may also ask your agent to seek instructions from the seller as to whether they should take the property off the market, or continue to market to avoid losing time should the sale fall through.