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Understanding the need for Home Reports in Scotland

Understanding the need for Home Reports in Scotland

A Home Report gives you essential information about a property for sale in Scotland so that you can review its condition carefully before making an offer. Here, we’ll detail why a Home Report must be provided, what it includes, how you can get a copy and whether you need to carry out an independent survey.

Why is a Home Report necessary?

Home Reports became a legal requirement in Scotland in 2008. Sellers are required to obtain a Home Report before they market their properties and can be fined up to £500 if they do not have one. Having to provide this report has given sellers an incentive to deal with any maintenance or repairs on their properties before marketing them. It also gives prospective buyers clear information about the condition of properties for sale and means they don’t necessarily have to obtain their own surveys.

What the report includes

As an information pack about a property’s value and condition, a Home Report has to include three documents: a single survey, a property questionnaire and an energy report.

Single survey

Carried out by a surveyor, this report details the condition of the property, such as the roof, plumbing and walls. Each part of the property that is checked is graded from 1 to 3, with 1 being satisfactory, 2 advising that repairs or replacements will be required in the future and 3 confirming that urgent work is required. The survey usually includes a valuation of the property and also includes an accessibility audit, which provides helpful information for those with limited mobility.

Property questionnaire

Completed by the seller, this document contains useful information that can help you decide if you’re still interested in a particular property. For example, when you’ve found a property you like in Trinity, Edinburgh, it can include information about the parking arrangements, the council tax band, planning permission, any history of flooding, alterations that have been made to the property and any additional costs, such as maintenance fees for communal areas.

Energy report

An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) must be provided. It details the energy efficiency of the property and its environmental impact via carbon dioxide emissions. The latter is measured in bands from A to G, with A meaning very efficient and G meaning very inefficient. It recommends ways to enhance the property’s energy efficiency and this will, in turn, reduce the fuel bills.

Is a Home Report always required?

A Home Report must be carried out before a residential property is put on the market. It is a legal requirement that became mandatory in Scotland in 2008. Without one, a seller and their estate agent can face prosecution by Trading Standards and be fined. There are some exceptions, though, and these include:

  • Properties sold off-market
  • New-build properties that are sold off-plan
  • Newly converted properties
  • Mixed-use properties
  • Holiday and seasonal accommodation
  • Unsafe properties or those due to be demolished

How to obtain a Home Report

You can get a copy of the Home Report from the seller or their estate agent. This should be sent to you within 9 days of your request. You might be charged a small sum just to cover the printing and postage costs. If the seller doesn’t think you are genuine about buying their property or that you don’t have the means to buy it, they are not required to send you a copy.

Do you have to get a separate survey carried out?

Home Reports are conducted by independent surveyors so it’s not really necessary to have your own survey done. However, your solicitor may advise you to pay for a new survey and mortgage valuation.

One reason for this is if you’re applying for a mortgage and the surveyor instructed by the seller is not on your lender’s approved list of surveyors. This means your lender will not accept the valuation included within the Home Report. Also, if a mortgage valuation was carried out as part of the single survey but the property has been on the market for a long time, your lender may insist on a new mortgage valuation. When applying for a buy-to-let mortgage, your lender has to have another survey carried out that includes the rental value as this is not included in a Home Report survey.

Another reason you may choose to have your own survey carried out is that the one included in the Home Report is a basic survey. You may prefer to instruct a surveyor to carry out a more in-depth survey on your behalf. It should be noted that any additional surveys to the one provided by the seller in the Home Report are to be paid for at your expense.

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