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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 November, 2003, 10:54 GMT
Plan to banish multiple surveys
House sale sign
Potential buyers can end up getting several surveys
House buyers across Scotland could be set to gain from a plan to make sellers responsible for a single house survey available to all potential purchasers.

At present, prospective buyers in Scotland can end up commissioning a survey for each property they show an interest in prior to making an offer.

This can result in hundreds of pounds being spent before the buyer secures a property.

However, under a voluntary pilot project to be launched next year in parts of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Inverness, the seller will be responsible for commissioning a Stage 2, full structural survey, available to all prospective buyers.

Hopefully it will halt some of the really terrible problems of buying a house at the moment
Teresa Hunter
Sunday Herald
That survey can cost about 500 and will include a valuation of the property.

The Scottish Executive initiative is backed by surveyors, solicitors, estate agents and mortgage lenders.

The project, which is expected to last between eight months and a year, will be fully evaluated to decide whether to roll it out across Scotland.

Housing Minister Margaret Curran said the pilot would save potential purchasers "a fruitless expense".

She said: "As buying a home is the most expensive transaction in most people's lives, we want to improve this situation.

"I am grateful for the support we have had from the solicitors, estate agents, mortgage lenders and the chartered surveyors in putting this voluntary scheme together.

"I hope that house sellers and buyers will take part and help us establish a fairer system which offers incentives to both the seller and the potential buyer."

Teresa Hunter, personal finance editor of the Sunday Herald, said: "Hopefully it will halt some of the really terrible problems of buying a house at the moment.

Peter Miller
Peter Miller believes the change is much needed
"The multiple surveys, whereby people end up paying for up to 10 surveys before they're lucky enough to get a house."

She added: "The other scandal, of course, is the offers-over system, whereby there is a suspicion people deliberately under-price a property to get a maximum amount of viewers across the threshold.

"The surveyors like it because loads and loads of people pay for surveys and it's the poor old buyer who is suffering."

Peter Miller, director of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in Scotland, welcomed the pilot scheme and said his body was a "profession not a trade" which put the public's interest first.

He said: "There are 150,000 house sales in Scotland a year and only 10% of people get surveys done, 90% rely upon a valuation, commonly called a survey but it is not and is required to provide a valuation for the lender.

"That is something we need to change and therefore we welcome the pilot."

John Breslin, the Council of Mortgage Lenders' Scottish spokesman, added: "We believe that the single survey concept has merit and deserves to be piloted."

BBC Scotland's Liz Quigley
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