The RICS has announced the delay in implementation of the new Home Survey Standard until March 2021, as surveyors prioritise their response to COVID-19 and the backlog resulting from lockdowns in the UK.

At Hancock and Partners, we understand that home surveys have always been a confusing time for property buyers and sellers. However, last year The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the globally recognised professional body for chartered surveyors, announced the launch of its new Home Survey Standard, which was due to become the mandatory best practice benchmark for all RICS professionals on 1st June 2020. This was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so the new RICS Home Survey Standard will now become mandatory in December 2020.

What is the new Home Survey Standard?

 These new standards have been put in place to better protect both buyers and sellers, by increasing consistency, transparency and competency across residential surveying. Instead of the three previous different types of home survey (a Condition Report, a Home Buyers Report and a Building Survey), the new HSS is a single standard for condition-based home surveys. From December 1st, 2020 this will be mandatory for all RICS surveyors and replace all previous guidance notes and statements for all levels of condition survey.

What do the 3 levels of Home Survey Standard mean? 

 When conducting home surveys, the RICS professional needs to clearly benchmark their service against one of the three levels. Each of these levels is a different standard of inspection, which increases the detail of the report as well as the inspection itself.

  • Level 1  

This level of inspection is based on a visual inspection, designed for clients who are looking for an objective report on the condition of a property. If for any reason the surveyor is unable to conclude their work with confidence, they can provide a recommendation for a further investigation to be completed. Although this survey identifies each element of the building and highlights relevant legal issues, it does not include advice on repairs or ongoing maintenance. Therefore, it’s best suited for modern properties, in reasonable condition. A level 1 home survey does not suit older, neglected properties, or even more complex properties.

  • Level 2 

Compared to level 1 surveys, this service is usually more expensive, but gives you more detailed information on the report – as well as the surveyor’s professional opinion on the market value of the property. This report is normally recommended for anyone who needs more extensive information on the condition of houses, flats or bungalows which have been built within the past 20 years.

  • Level 3 

This is the most extensive visual inspection which is suits large, older properties, more complex properties, or those in a neglected condition. This service is very similar to the level 2 inspection, except it is far more extensive and includes inspection of concealed areas if it is safe to do so. There will also be an outline of repair options included if required, as well as details of serious risks and dangerous conditions. The aim of a Level 3 report is to avoid the previous “get out” clauses in surveys where a surveyor might recommend further specialist surveys.

What should you know as a home buyer or seller? 

These new survey standards are a step in the right direction for the property industry, as it provides more clarity and a higher level of service should be guaranteed – improving the trust in this market significantly. It is important to remember that a professional home survey when buying or selling a home is essential before committing to the biggest investment you are ever likely to make. The entire process should now be more streamlined and efficient, improving the buying and selling process for all parties involved. However, even though this new survey standard will be mandatory for all RICS professionals, it will still be up to individual surveyors to be transparent about which level of survey they are able to provide. We therefore recommend asking for clarity on a surveyor’s level and for recommendations.

About Hancock and Partners

If you are looking to buy or sell a home and currently looking for an estate agent in the Chichester area, the team at Hancock and Partners would be happy to assist. As an independent business, we are highly experienced in our field of work and have been a leading name in the industry since we were founded in 1991. You can call our Residential Sales Department on 01243 531155 and a friendly member of our team will be in touch.