RICS launch consumer and industry consultation to overhaul home surveys

RICS launch consumer and industry consultation to overhaul home surveys

Regulated standard to clear up confusion, standardise best practice, and serve the needs of a changing marketplace.

  • Two in five (40%) British adults who bought a property within the last ten years who didn’t get a survey on their home didn’t think they needed one; and although the majority of recent buyers did get some form of home survey (75%); One in five (21%) say they don’t remember what type it was, suggesting that consumer confusion still persists;
  • Proposed that surveys are benchmarked on three ‘levels’– this will ensure consistency and less consumer confusion, with added emphasis also on using experienced and qualified local professionals
  • RICS Home Survey Standard will clarify the survey process for consumers and will standardise best practice and survey offerings


RICS has published a public consultation for a new mandatory RICS Home Survey Standard and are looking for feedback from both the public and RICS members. Proposed changes will better protect buyers, and sellers, by making sure they fully understand the importance and benefits of commissioning a home survey before purchasing a property, as the process and language is clarified.  It will also standardise survey offerings.  The survey will be open until midnight on the 29 July.


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With the property industry opening up to first time buyers, (home ownership in the 35-44 year age group up 5%; English Housing Survey, 2017/2018) it is increasingly important that consumers, who may be making their first home purchase, are clear on why a survey on your home is important, the fact that a valuation is not a survey, the differing surveys themselves, the process, their needs, and any potential pitfalls.

Currently there is clear evidence that the public is not clear on the benefits of having a survey – which provides a thorough report of a home’s condition, highlighting any faults or urgent defects that may affect its value - or the differences between the survey types.  This is despite the research carried out by ComRes revealing that home buyers were keen to find out about any problems with the home and likely repairs (49%) - before buying a property – along with any possible legal issues with the property (44%).

Alarmingly, the research revealed that one in five recent buyers (21%) who had a home survey were not clear what type of survey they had, whilst two in five (40%) who bought a property within the last ten years revealed they didn’t get a home survey because they didn’t think they needed one. These results are hardly surprising considering anecdotal evidence suggests that buyers often confuse a survey with a mortgage valuation - carried out in the interest of the lender. 

One of the proposed changes will be emphasising the levels of the survey in a numerical system to make it easier to understand, with minimum levels of service for each one. Therefore whatever the name given to a survey product individually, understanding the levels of one, two and three and the minimum service and benchmark requirements for each will make it easier for consumers to identify what type of survey they need.  An older house, with the potential for defects, would require a higher level than a new build.  It is important consumers are aware of their needs prior to selecting a survey. Another important area included is to use a surveyor with local knowledge of the area, depending on instruction, who would have specialised local knowledge such as areas prone to flooding or subsidence.

RICS will also use the consultation responses, to provide further consumer advice and documents to ease the house buying process.

Working with industry groups, and residential surveying firms, RICS reviewed the current market place, and the consultation will also ensure standardised best practice in key items such as clear understanding of the clients needs; explanation of the differences between the levels of service offered so they can make an informed choice; and agreement on the full details of the terms of engagement.

When finalised later in the year, the standard will become mandatory and therefore using or getting advice from a regulated RICS professional, or firm, will make sure that any required survey is completed to the highest professional standards, and provides all the information the consumer needs for their new home.


Paul Cutbill a member of the RICS Home Survey Working Group, and Countrywide, comments:

“Choosing a home will likely be one of the most important decisions consumers make, accordingly it is imperative to have independent, professional advice during the process.  Surveying is a technical profession, so it is important that any communication barriers between the property professional and the consumer are eradicated.

“We would recommend that anyone who is buying, renting or selling a house checks that their surveyor or agent is a regulated member of a professional body, such as RICS, who have minimum set standards for competency and understanding, and we would encourage all parties to take part in this consultation”


Paul Bagust, Global Property Director, RICS adds:

“As part of our commitment to promote and enforce the highest standards in the residential sector, the new Home Survey Standard brings together the views of consumers, cross-industry stakeholders and practitioners to become the sector best practice benchmark in achieving consistency and high quality to meet evolving client and market demands. 

“We are now leading an extensive public consultation to deliver a standard which ensures transparency, consistent competence and high level of service as expected from RICS professionals."