Get to grips with Home Reports

You’ve made it! You’ve got your Home Report, the photos for your schedule have been taken and your property is now being marketed. But now the race is on…….

What does your Home Report mean to you as a Seller? The basics are that it includes a Single Survey of your property which contains a valuation. This will have been the basis upon which your selling agent will have given you advice on how much to market your property for. There is also an Energy Performance Certificate and a Property Questionnaire which you will have completed yourself.

So why is the race on? The current guidelines from the Law Society of Scotland are that purchasers should not rely on a Home Report that has been prepared more than 12 weeks previously. So you now have to keep everything crossed that your property really is someone else’s dream home and will be snapped up within those 12 weeks.

If your Report has expired you may incur further costs to get it refreshed. This is certainly a question worth asking your Home Report provider. And what happens if the market has nosedived over those 12 weeks and the new report records a lower valuation of your property than before?

Potential purchasers may use an out of date Home Report as a means of negotiating down the price they are willing to offer for your property. This is because they may incur problems with their lender who could refuse to lend money on the back of an out of date report.

But Home Reports are not all bad. They do provide invaluable information to potential buyers about your home. You will hopefully receive sensible offers for your house around the valuation in your Home Report. In addition, the information gathering has all been done at the start and you won’t find yourself scrabbling among papers during a viewing just to find what council tax band your home is in!

More importantly, any faults in your home will be identified at the outset. This differs from the old system where you could have accepted a great offer, but after the purchasers surveyed your house they came back with a lower offer due to a rogue roof tile found in the garden.

Another little known fact is that you are entitled to refuse to give a potential purchaser a copy of your report. This would only be if you didn’t think they were seriously interested in buying, that you did not believe that they had enough money or just that you did not want to sell your home to those buyers (although you cannot discriminate against them for unlawful reasons).

Finally, what happens if something goes wrong and you feel that the professionals acting for you have behaved negligently or that their services were unsatisfactory, inadequate or unprofessional?

Chartered Surveyor firms must have a complaints handling procedure. If this route is ineffective you can seek assistance from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors or the Surveyors Ombudsman Service.

Similarly, all Solicitors’ firms must have a written complaints procedure. If you cannot resolve matters then you can contact the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission who will deal with any service complaints and refer any conduct complaints to the Law Society of Scotland.

All Estate Agents are required to belong to an estate agents’ redress scheme approved by the Office of Fair Trading. The approved schemes are the Property Ombudsman and the Surveyors Ombudsman Service. You may also be able to lodge a complaint with the National Association of Estate Agents.

The current view of Law Society members is that there are still problems with the Home Report system especially in areas where it is more difficult to sell and that the 12 week race is just not winnable. Consultations are ongoing and it will remain to be seen if the current system evolves over the next few years.

Selling your home can be a complicated and at times a frustrating exercise, but by arming yourself with the right information, you can ensure that your sale runs as smoothly as possible and that the finishing line always remains in sight.