Thursday, 23 June 2011
Selling Up? You'll Need A Home Report
During a conversation with my friendly solicitor - who doubles as an estate agent - I mentioned the surprising number of larger homes which have suddenly appeared and was told the majority were people wishing to 'downsize' because maintaining the family home with just one or two occupants was no longer financially viable. The ever increasing utility costs also played a major role in the decision.
Selling a much loved home isn't an easy decision and emotions can run high.
In Scotland a seller has to provide a Home Report which involves a single survey of the property, an energy report and a property questionnaire. The report costs between £500 and £700 depending on the size of the property and the documents in the report must be no more than 12 weeks old when the property is put on the market.
Last year a neighbour decided to sell her property and move to a flat. She organised the Home Report, but unfortunately fell an broke her hip a week before she intended to market her house. Because her recovery was slow it was nearly six months before she felt fit enough to handle selling and looking around for another flat (the one she originally intended to buy had been sold as the vendor wasn't prepared to wait).
So she instructed her solicitor to begin the marketing process, only to be told she would require a new Home Report as the 'old' one was out of date. This cost her a further £300 and she insists it was an exact copy of the old one with only the dates changed. No surveyor revisited the property to do a reassessment thereby verifying it was purely a paper exercise. Her Home Reports cost nearly £1,000 - money which can't be reclaimed directly.
Many older people are 'asset rich' and finding a four-figure sum which has to be paid upfront is not always easy.
While the idea of a Home Report seems reasonable - although it's recommended buyers have their own survey undertaken - the 12 week limit is too restricting. If you decide to take your property temporarily off the market, the maximum time allowed is 4 weeks. If it's longer then a new report is required.
Wouldn't a 26 week limit be more reasonable or are the Scottish government happy for estate agents to be making extortionate sums for photocopying original documents? I suggest the government should put a fixed fee of say £50 on duplicate reports and stop this rip-off, because that's what it is.
Last year the Westminster coalition scrapped home information packs in England and Wales. The Tory MSP David McLetchie said it was time for the Scottish government to do so too. Considering these reports are not accepted some lenders and also buyers are advised to have their own survey done, the only beneficiaries are the producers.