Anyone who’s ever bought or sold a house will tell you how much work is involved in the conveyancing process. Buyers need to find a mortgage provider, hire a solicitor, arrange a property survey and take out buildings insurance, while sellers need to choose an estate agent to list the property, hire a conveyancing solicitor and prepare (or “stage”) their home for sale. Then there’s the Home Report.
If a property has gone on the market, it should normally have a Home Report. Anyone who is serious about buying a particular house should ask to see this report, and the seller, their solicitor or the estate agent must be able to provide it.
But what is a Home Report? How long does a Home Report stay valid? And who is responsible for putting it together? In this article, we’ll answer all these questions and more to help you understand this important aspect of the home buying and selling process.
How long does a Home Report last in Scotland?
A Home Report has no official expiry date, meaning it will remain valid until the property is sold. Even if you take your house off the market for up to four weeks and then list it for sale again, you won’t need to get a new report.
If your house is on the market for a long time, you may get a replacement Home Report to ensure that all the information is current. This is a decision that will need to be made by the seller, the buyer and both parties’ professional advisers.
Read on to find out more about Home Reports.
What is a Home Report?
A Home Report is a pack of documents that are given to potential buyers to tell them everything there is to know about a property. It is made up of three components:
- A single survey
- An energy report
- A property questionnaire
Depending on the surveyor, a Home Report may also contain a Mortgage Valuation Report.
When the property goes on the market, the documents in the report must be no older than 12 weeks.
How do Home Reports work?
If you’re selling your home with the help of a solicitor or estate agent, it is their responsibility to put a Home Report together for you and distribute it to prospective buyers. While the single survey and energy report must be completed by a qualified surveyor, you and your selling agent should fill out the property questionnaire yourselves, as you will have knowledge of the property’s history. If you are selling your house without the help of an agent, you will need to hire a surveyor yourself, which you can do on the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors website.
If a potential buyer asks for a report, you must send them one within nine days of their request. If you are selling your home with the help of a solicitor or estate agent, they will be able to do this for you.
There are, however, certain instances in which you do not need to provide a Home Report to someone who asks for it. You won’t need to give them a report if:
- You don’t believe they can afford to buy your property
- You don’t think they are seriously interested in buying your property
- You don’t want to sell your property to them
It’s worth noting, though, that it is illegal to discriminate against someone when deciding whether or not to send them a report. If you withhold a Home Report without good reason, you could be fined by Trading Standards.
Can you buy a house in Scotland without a Home Report?
Unless the property is exempt, it is against the law to sell a house in Scotland without a Home Report. This applies even if you are selling it privately.
Part 3 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 also states that it is against the law to include false information in the documents.
Providing false information or failing to prepare a Home Report could lead to a fine of up to £500.
The following properties, however, can be sold without a Home Report:
- Homes that have been on the market since before 1st December 2008
- New-build homes that are being sold for the first time
- Newly converted homes that haven’t yet been used in their converted state
- Properties that are not liveable or those that are to be demolished
- Properties that are used for both residential and commercial purposes
- Seasonal holiday homes that cannot be used all year round
Note that if you are selling your house without a Home Report, you will still need to provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).
What does a Home Report contain?
As previously mentioned, a Home Report consists of a single survey, an energy report and a property questionnaire:
A single survey
This section of the Home Report is based on a visual inspection by a surveyor and contains the following:
- An assessment of the property’s condition (in particular, the internal and external walls, the roof, the plumbing and the kitchen fittings), stating whether any repairs need to be carried out
- An accessibility audit for parents, people with disabilities or the elderly
- A valuation of how much the property is worth
Every aspect of the property will be categorised as follows:
- Category 1 — No immediate action or repair needed
- Category 2 — Repair or replacement needed in the future
- Category 3 — Repair or replacement needing urgent attention
An energy report
This part of the Home Report gives the property an energy efficiency rating in the form of an EPC. This is to give prospective buyers an idea of how much heating, hot water and lighting will cost. They will also get an understanding of what impact the house has on the environment in terms of carbon dioxide emissions.
The higher the home’s energy efficiency rating, the more energy-efficient the property is and the lower the fuel bills will be.
Because the energy report looks into how the home is heated and how well-insulated it is, it also gives recommendations on how to make the property more energy-efficient and save on fuel costs.
A property questionnaire
This part of the Home Report gives more information about the property’s facilities and services. It is not only useful to prospective buyers, but solicitors and chartered surveyors will also find it helpful for highlighting any areas that may need further investigation.
Some of the information that could be given in this section includes:
- Alterations or extensions to the property
- Extra charges for things like maintaining communal areas
- Guarantees or specialist work that’s been carried out
- Local authority notices
- Parking space
- Past issues, such as asbestos, fire or storm damage
- The availability of gas and electricity
- The property’s Council Tax band
What is the cost of a Home Report in Scotland?
Depending on the size and value of your property, it is likely to cost between £500 and £700 (plus VAT) to produce a Home Report.
Any quotes you receive should only be for the single survey and energy report, as the seller is responsible for completing the property questionnaire.
Who pays for a Home Report?
The seller is responsible for arranging and paying for the Home Report. They are, however, allowed to charge prospective buyers a small sum to cover the costs for copying and postage if a paper copy has been requested.
The seller may also be able to charge the buyer for the cost of the survey by incorporating it into the final sale price; but only if the buyer agrees. There is no rule that states the buyer must contribute towards the cost of the Home Report.
If a property has been on the market for a long time, the seller may decide to refresh the survey report, however, the buyer and seller will have to agree amongst themselves who is to pay for this. The cost of this charge will be determined by the surveyor or Home Report provider, with some even doing it for free if the property has been on the market for an extended period of time.
A Home Report is a pack of documents that tells potential buyers everything there is to know about a property. It is made up of three components: A single survey, an energy report and a property questionnaire. Depending on the surveyor, a Home Report may also contain a Mortgage Valuation Report. The documents in the report must be no older than 12 weeks when the property goes on the market.
A Home Report has no official expiry date, meaning it will remain valid until the property is sold. Even if you take your house off the market for up to four weeks and then list it for sale again, you won’t need to get a new report. If your house is on the market for a long time, you may need to get a replacement Home Report to ensure that all the information is current. This is a decision that will need to be made by the seller, the buyer and the professional advisers of both parties.