Seller’s Packs Won’t End Multiple Surveys

The mandatory single survey scheme in Scotland, where sellers commission a survey to prevent buyers wasting time and money on getting a property they may not buy surveyed, is fundamentally flawed it was claimed yesterday.

The aim of the scheme is to save £9m in wasted surveys but Scottish Surveyor Ombudsman, Ian Smith said that it would simply not prevent buyers from commissioning their own surveys.

?A prudent customer will take the surveyor?s report for what it says, but when not satisfied, or when guided not to be satisfied, they should look to getting additional information about a property,? he said.

Yesterday was the first ever report from the Ombudsman, who has had the role since January 2004. Mr Smith called for greater transparency in how surveyors communicate with clients, asking for reports to be in ?plain English?.

This suspicion is echoed south of the border, where similar packs, known as Home Information Packs (HIPs), are set to become mandatory in England and Wales following last year?s Housing Act being passed.

Anthony Cain from Strutt and Parker told he is concerned: ?People are talking about these being home surveys, but they are not surveys as we know them.?

?There are obviously many different kinds of surveys which one can get, but the most thorough is obviously the full structural survey, and these new packs have nothing like the same detail for a potential buyer.?

We have still to see some of the detail hammered out on HIPs, but the question of trust between seller and buyer is a big one: ?Human nature is an unchanging factor. Sellers are greedy and buyers are mean, and this is never going to change.

‘A buyer wants the maximum amount of information on a house as possible so they can make an informed offer and these HIPs may not give people everything they need to make that decision,? added Mr Cain.

HIPs are due in England, presuming Labour wins the election, around 2007 but informed onlookers suspect delays. In Scotland things are moving more quickly, and it may well be instructive to look there to assess the impact in these packs may have on buyers, sellers and indeed the market in general.