ASK THE EXPERT

A. You’re right, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors is currently in the process of launching a new Condition Report (“CR”). As for its place in the wider scheme of things…it is certainly not intended as a replacement for the Homebuyer’s Report. This remains the intermediate level of survey favoured by many buyers - much more thorough than the basic building society valuation, but less detailed than a full building survey.

The purpose of the new report is rather different. It is designed primarily to be something that a vendor might choose to commission, in order to give prospective buyers a concise overview of the condition of the property, and flag up any particular problems or issues that might need dealing with. The buyer would then have the option of using the new document in conjunction with the lender’s valuation, rather than going to the trouble and expense of commissioning his or her own survey.

As such, the CR will not include either a valuation or an assessment for insurance purposes. However, it will include a description of the construction and condition of the property; list any defects that need urgent attention or are serious; highlight any issues that may merit further investigation to prevent possible serious damage to the fabric of the building; and identify any defects that could be hazardous – all presented in a clear, easy-to-understand format.

In short, the new report basically fulfils a broadly similar function to the old Home Condition Report that was originally intended to form part of the previous Government’s ill-fated HIPs – except that it will be entirely optional.

If you remember, one of the biggest objections raised to the original HCRs was that buyers would never trust them, since they were commissioned by the seller – an argument that conveniently ignored the fact that a qualified surveyor would hardly be likely to put his name to anything inaccurate or misleading.

So, all in all, it will be interesting to see whether the new Condition Report catches on. By providing prospective buyers with important information about a property, it could turn out to be very useful indeed.