Home Reports - What Now?
In January this year and after lengthy deliberation a five year review of the Scottish Home Report has finally been issued. The public consultation which was launched back in December 2013 examined how the Home Report has “performed” since its introduction.
It is perhaps no surprise that there are very few groups, bodies or individuals who appear “neutral” on Home Reports and their “benefits”. Many see them as a positive, if expensive, marketing tool whilst others, against the Reports from the outset, remain unswayed.
The research explored the awareness, knowledge and understanding of the Home Report, its practical operation and whether it was meeting its original objectives.
The findings show that awareness is high. Sellers feel more confident about property prices and buyers found the repair categories and valuation to be especially useful. The Reports have provided a greater degree of transparency on the condition of properties and have focused market value for both sellers and buyers. However, professionals remain concerned that many buyers do regard the Home Report as a guarantee of property condition which it clearly is not.
The research concluded that Home Reports have met two of the three original objectives: to reduce multiple surveys and to prevent artificially low asking prices. The third objective, however, which was to improve the condition of the housing stock, has not been met. The research further concluded that there is a continued and slightly concerning conflict of interest now created between the seller, buyer and the surveyor.
Pressure may be applied upon the surveyor to improve the single survey or in some cases sellers do commission numerous single surveys and select the one with the highest value.
The report has recommended:
1. The Home Report should be shorter, with a one page summary containing key information on repairs, valuation and a statement of the Home Reports purpose
2. More information should be made available to both buyers and sellers before they go to the market or they rely on the Home Report content (this should address all areas of misunderstanding eg. that it is a visual survey only)
3. A new objective should be to make the energy improvement requirements clearer.
4. Further issues, including conflict of interest, must be addressed and dealt with.
Although perhaps not ideal in many respects the research overall does appear to conclude that in general Home Reports have achieved their intended effect on the market and it would seem, that at least for the meantime, they are here to stay.