Frequently Asked Questions for Sellers
What documents are included in the Home Report?
A - The Home Report includes a Single Survey, an Energy Report (including an Energy Performance Certificate) and a Property Questionnaire.
In addition surveyors may provide a generic Mortgage Valuation Report that answers many of the questions that lenders will have about a property. This is not a prescribed document, but will be offered to sellers by the surveyor who carries out the survey. This may be useful in any discussions with lenders about a prospective purchase.
Who will compile a Home Report?
A - The Home Report may be compiled by the seller's agent or the seller. A chartered surveyor must provide the Single Survey and Energy Report. The seller of the house will complete the Property Questionnaire.
I am a private seller, and do not plan on using a solicitor or estate agent to market my house. Do I need a Home Report?
A - Yes. Under Part 3 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006, a person who is responsible for marketing a house must provide a Home Report to any prospective purchasers. To prepare a Home Report you will need to commission a chartered surveyor (or a Home Report provider who will engage a surveyor) to carry out the Single Survey and produce the Energy Report. You, or someone acting for you, must also complete a Property Questionnaire.
Are there any circumstances where the person responsible for marketing the house does not need to provide a Home Report?
A - If you market your house for sale, you must obtain a Home Report. However, the duty to provide a Home Report does not apply if you (or your selling agent) reasonably believe that the person making the request (for a copy Home Report):
is unlikely to have sufficient means to buy the house in question
is not genuinely interested in buying the house
is not a person to whom the seller is likely to be prepared to sell the house (this does not allow people to discriminate, say on grounds of race)
This doesn't mean you have to assess every prospective purchaser against these criteria or that you cannot give such a person a Home Report; just that in these cases you don't have to provide a Home Report if you don't want to. You should bear in mind that if a prospective buyer feels they have been unlawfully denied a copy Home Report, they may complain to their local authority Trading Standards department.
How much does a Home Report cost?
A - The cost of a Single Survey and Energy Report is set by individual surveying firms and will vary according to the size of the house. Sellers are advised to consider a number of quotes from different providers before making a decision. There should be very little, if any, costs associated with the Property Questionnaire as it is completed by the seller of the home.
Who pays for the Home Report?
A - The seller is responsible for providing the Home Report. There is nothing in the legislation that requires the buyer to reimburse the seller for the cost of the Home Report. It is, however, perfectly permissible for a buyer and seller to enter into an arrangement over meeting the costs of the Home Report.
How will I pay for the Home Report?
A - This depends on the agreement between the seller and the firm they ask to compile the Home Report. It may be useful to speak to a number of different providers to find the approach that best suits you.
How 'old' can the Home Report documents be when the house is put on the market for sale?
A - The legislation says that the documents should be no more than 12 weeks old when the house is put on the market. A house for sale which has a Home Report can be taken off the market for 28 days without needing a new Home Report.
Q9 - Do I have to update my Home Report at any time once the property is on the market ?
A - The legislation does not impose a set shelf life or validity period for any of the Home Report documents. Decisions as to whether any aspects of the Home Report need to be refreshed/updated are for sellers, buyers and their professional advisers to take, depending on the circumstances of each case. The refresh is not an additional survey, but usually a simple re-inspection.
How quickly must a seller or their agent comply with a request by a prospective buyer for a copy of any or all of the Home Report documents?
A - The person responsible for marketing the house must posses the Home Report as soon as the house goes on the market. A copy of any or all of the documents must be provided within nine days.
Can a prospective buyer be charged for a Home Report?
A - There is not a charge for the Home Report as such, but the person selling the house may make a reasonable charge to cover costs of copying and postage of a paper copy.
Can the Home Report be provided electronically to a potential buyer?
A - Yes, but only if they expressly consent to receive it electronically.
What happens if the Single Survey identifies a significant problem with the condition of the house such as dry or wet rot? Does the seller have to rectify the problem?
A - That is a decision for the seller. The seller may choose to rectify the problem or may for other reasons, market the house immediately. There is nothing in the legislation forcing the seller down one particular route. From the Single Survey report, the seller will at least be aware that there is a problem and have options to decide what to do about it.
Do I have to provide a Home Report if my house has been on the market for sale prior to December 1, 2008?
A - No, if your house has been on the market for sale prior to 1 December 2008 you will not need to obtain a Home Report. However, if you take your house off the market anytime after 1 December 2008 and re-market it, you will have to make a Home Report available.
If your house has been on the market prior to 1 December 2008, you will need to obtain an Energy Performance Certificate ("EPC"). This is because there is a separate duty arising from European law to make the EPC available to any prospective buyer of the house after 4 January 2009.
However, there is nothing to stop you obtaining a Home Report and this may be something to consider.
I have been marketing my house for sale privately since before 1 December 2008. However, if I now approach a selling agent to ask them to market it for me will I have to obtain a Home Report ?
A - As long as your house has remained on the market and you have not withdrawn it any time after 1 December 2008, you will not need to obtain a Home Report. In all instances, you should check with your selling agent for clarification. Additionally, if you commenced marketing of your house privately prior to 1 December 2008, it may be useful to keep as much information (for example a newspaper advert) as possible.