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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 July, 2004, 08:53 GMT 09:53 UK
Launch for single survey scheme
Surveyor Gary Firth in Glasgow
The survey will be the seller's responsibility
A pilot scheme aimed at cutting down on the number of wasted house surveys has been launched in four Scottish cities.

From Wednesday, people selling homes in parts of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness and Dundee will be able to commission their own Scheme 2 reports.

The survey will be made available to all potential buyers but only the successful purchaser will pay for it.

Every year about 9m is spent on house surveys in Scotland which do not lead to a sale.

A recent study found that four out of five house buyers were in favour of introducing the new scheme.

Pilot areas
Edinburgh North and Leith: 38,000 homes
Greater Dundee: 85,000 homes
Glasgow North and West: 130,000 homes
Inverness and surrounding area: 40,000 homes

The Scottish Executive said it would make the whole process of home buying more transparent.

The initiative has the backing of professional bodies such as surveyors but privately some individuals in the industry question whether a single survey scheme will work.

When any of the 293,000 homes in the pilot areas are put up for sale, the seller can commission a comprehensive condition survey costing upwards of 300. This includes a valuation and details on energy efficiency and disabled access.

The scheme is voluntary and selling agents will ask and encourage all sellers in their area to take part, with a full evaluation being carried out by July next year.

'Realistic bids'

Communities Minister Margaret Curran said: "Buying a home is probably the most expensive transaction in someone's life and we want to make the housing market more transparent.

"Too many buyers invest with the minimal valuation and miss out on important information about the state of the property."

As well as bringing "peace of mind" to buyers about the state of their investment, single surveys would benefit sellers too, Ms Curran added.

"A single survey should create more interest in the property and result in realistic bids," she said.

You may want to ask the surveyor a number of questions regarding the report and you won't be able to do that
Graham Hartley
RICS
Welcoming the pilot, Glasgow Solicitors Property Centre chief executive Bill Scouller said: "Anything that could benefit the consumer or simplify the house buying process should be taken very seriously and given the chance to prove its worth.

"We will be the first to make single surveys available on our website and we will strive to ensure that access to single surveys is as easy as possible for the public."

Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Scotland (RICS) deputy director Graham Hartley said: "We certainly would welcome anything that makes consumers take a more informed decision when making the biggest decision of their lives."

But he told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme that questions arose over the scrutiny of the single survey.

He said: "One of the possible downfalls or pitfalls of the product that we see is that the buyer will not be able to discuss any detail of the particular survey with the surveyor.

"That's something that the buyer will have to think about very carefully because, depending on what the report says, you may want to ask the surveyor a number of questions regarding the report and you won't be able to do that."

The Council of Mortgage Lenders in Scotland said the scheme could help establish more realistic pricing, but warned that it might also increase transaction costs or have other unforeseen effects.




SEE ALSO:
Huge rise in Scots house prices
10 Jul 04  |  Scotland
Warning over single survey plan
26 May 04  |  Scotland
Plan to banish multiple surveys
05 Nov 03  |  Scotland
Scotland's houses 'most affordable'
12 Jul 03  |  Scotland
Glasgow house prices 'frenzy'
08 Apr 03  |  Scotland


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