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Mortgage valuations are not in-depth surveys

Category: Mortgages
Author: Tim Leonard
Updated: 23/11/2018

Mortgage valuations can give you a rough idea of whether you are paying too much (or tool little!) for a property.

However, as a type of property survey, it is very limited in scope and is only likely to uncover obvious, visible defects as part of a brief inspection.

A homebuyer or full structural survey can give protection by alerting you to potential problems before you buy. The result of an in-depth survey could lead you to back out of an unwise purchase, or give you the bargaining power to go in with a lower offer.

Many of us don't opt for a more in-depth survey and rely on the mortgage valuation. But this could prove to be a costly decision further down the line...

What a mortgage valuation is (and what it isn't)

Mortgage valuations don't take long – approximately 15-30 minutes. They do not go into anything more than superficial depth when considering the condition of the property.

The mortgage valuation is for the benefit of the mortgage lender. It is designed to give enough information for the lender to decide whether the property is safe to lend on, and up to what amount. Though you may pay for the report, you may not get a copy or even see what the surveyor has written.

The valuation is based on the surveyor's knowledge of comparable prices in the locality. It may also give a "minimum reinstatement value", which is the amount of money it would take to rebuild the property from scratch, should it ever be necessary. Later on, the mortgage lender will ask to see evidence that a suitable buildings insurance policy is in place, together with confirmation that you are covered for the minimum reinstatement value.

What do homebuyer and full structural surveys offer?

You shouldn't solely rely on your mortgage valuation if you are buying a property. This becomes more important the older the property is.

Newly-built homes benefit from the National House Building Council (NHBC) 10 year guarantee for any big faults or defects in construction or materials. However, there is a case for a survey even with a new build, as after 10 years any defects would have to be remedied with your own money.

Mortgage Valuation Homebuyer Survey Full Structural Survey
Best for...
  • New build propety
  • A property you already own and have had a survey on previously
  • Any property, although you should consider a structural survey for older homes
  • Older properties
  • Unusual properties
  • A property you wish to extend or alter
  • A property you suspect may have a defect
For the benefit of... Your mortgage lender You You
Valuation included? Tick Tick Cross
Rebuild valuation included? Tick Tick Cross
Describes condition of property and type of construction? Tick Tick Tick
Aims to uncover obvious, visible defects with property? Tick Tick Tick
Aims to uncover any visible problems to the surveyor as part of an in-depth inspection? Cross Tick Tick
Aims to uncover hidden problems with the property? Cross Tick Tick

Things to watch out for

Full structural surveys do not include a mortgage valuation – you'd need to have one of these on top of the survey.

If your survey includes a valuation, check that the surveyor is acceptable to your mortgage lender – otherwise you may have to pay for another mortgage valuation.

Where a mortgage lender offers a free or refunded valuation fee incentive as part of the mortgage deal, this will usually just apply to a mortgage valuation, not a homebuyer or full structural survey.

What next?

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Disclaimer: This information is intended solely to provide guidance and is not financial advice. Moneyfacts will not be liable for any loss arising from your use or reliance on this information. If you are in any doubt, Moneyfacts recommends you obtain independent financial advice.