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Home reports not very helpful, survey finds

1 March 2012

Home reports have had mixed reviews in the latest research by property marketing company ESPC, the solicitors' property centre serving east central Scotland.

Buyers welcome the information provided, but say the home report has not become a critical part of the house buying process, while sellers are negative about the report, with 65% saying it has not helped the sale of their property. Multiple surveys have also become more common, something home reports were intended to eliminate.

ESPC’s research was based on the views of 295 consumers (141 buyers and 154 sellers) who had bought, sold or attempted to sell a property since December 2008 when home reports were introduced.

Just over a third (35%) of buyers found the home report very helpful, 29% said it was "a little helpful", 25% chose "not particularly helpful" and 12% "not helpful". Two thirds (67%) relied on the survey when buying their property; 20% instructed a further survey at the request of their lender; and 13% chose to undertake a further survey.

The figures for sellers were 10% very helpful, 20% a little helpful, 29% not particularly helpful, and 41% not helpful.

Asked for one suggestion on how to improve the home report, 31% of respondents wanted them scrapped altogether, while 43% suggested content changes, 15% change to the setting of the valuation or its period of currency, and 9% wanted the cost reduced.

The report comments: "The fact that over 90% of buyers would still visit a property which did not have a home report, does raise questions about whether the consumer benefit of more information upfront is a valid one that should be legislated for. This does highlight that having the home report from day 1 is not that vital to buyers."

Concept

ESPC chief executive Malcolm Cannon said: “Home reports were a concept created during the period of high activity and rising prices in the property market. Coincidentally, their arrival coincided with a rapid slowdown and contraction in the number of homes up for sale.

“Our research with buyers has shown that whilst most find it a helpful document, it is not a ‘must have’. Plus a third of respondents had an additional survey completed either on request of their lender or of their own choice.”

ESPC has called for the Scottish Government to look again at the structure and role of home reports, and the process of their use.

Mr Cannon added: “With such strong opinions, we would like to see a broad group of stakeholders brought together to identify how the home report can be a stronger contributor to a healthy property market.”

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