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HSPC - Home Reports

Home Reports have been mandatory since 1st December 2008 - be ready with some help from HSPC. This page contains Questions & Answers for sellers and Buyers.

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HSPC Home Report
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Since 1st December 2008, every home advertised for sale must - by law - have a Home Report. This report must be ready before your home is advertised. It contains information about your home, including a survey, that will be made available to prospective buyers on request.

The Home Report, commissioned by the seller, provides prospective buyers with detailed information about the condition and value of the property before offers are made.

In this way buyers do not waste time and money on Mortgage Valuation Reports on properties where their offers are unsuccessful.

In particular first-time buyers, with nothing to sell, benefit from a Home Report provided by the seller.

Make sure you take advice from a Property Professional. Your HSPC Solicitor will be able to assist you through all stages of the process, instructing the Survey on your behalf, helping you complete the Property Questionnaire, and producing the final Report.

The Home Report documents

The Home Report contains three documents providing home buyers with detailed information abot the property. These are;

1. A property questionnaire to give prospective buyers useful information about the property, such as parking arrangements, factoring and property alterations. The Property Questionnaire contains information for home buyers, solicitors and surveyors. Where applicable it should include, for example: a home's council tax band, parking facilities, factoring arrangements, any local authority notices that affect it and alterations that have been made to the home. This information is useful for buyers before they decide whether to submit an offer to purchase a home. The Property Questionnaire may also reduce the risk of delay and difficulties in conveyancing.

2. A single survey prepared by a chartered surveyor containing detailed information on the property condition, accessibility information and a valuation. The Single Survey gives sellers detailed information about the condition and value of a home before it is marketed for sale. It also gives buyers better information about the condition and value of a home before they make an offer to purchase. The Single Survey includes an accessibility audit that will make Scotland the first country to require that the accessible features of every home for sale are highlighted to potential buyers. This information will benefit parents with young children and older people, as well as disabled people.

3. An energy report giving a home's energy efficiency rating and its environmental impact in terms of carbon dioxide emissions. It recommends ways to improve the building's energy efficiency and gives contact details for further advice and information about how to make a home more energy efficient and save fuel costs. The Energy Report helps home buyers to make 'green' choices, by comparing energy costs between homes and giving practical advice to reduce carbon emissions and save on energy bills.

Frequently Asked Questions for Sellers

  1. What documents are included in the Home Report?
    The Home Report includes a Single Survey, an Energy Report and a Property Questionnaire.
  2. Do I have to provide a Home Report if my house was marketed for sale prior to 1st December, 2008?
    No, if you commenced marketing your house for sale prior to 1st December 2008 you will not need to obtain a Home Report. However, if you take your house off the market anytime after this and re-market it, you will have to make a Home Report available.
    Although you do not require a Home Report if your house was already on the market at 1st December 2008, you will need to obtain an Energy Performance Certificate ("EPC") if your house is still on the market. 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 4th January, 2009.
  3. Who will compile a Home Report?
    The Home Report will be compiled by the seller or the seller's agent. A chartered surveyor provides the Single Survey and Energy Report. The seller of the house completes the Property Questionnaire.
  4. 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?
    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 do this you will need to commission a chartered surveyor to carry out the Single Survey and Energy Report. You must also complete a Property Questionnaire.
  5. Are there any circumstances where I do not need to provide a Home Report?
    If you market your house for sale, you must obtain a Home Report. However, the duty to provide a copy of the Home Report does not apply if you (or your selling agent) reasonably believe that the person making the request for a copy of the 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 (but this does not allow people to discriminate, say on grounds of race)
  6. Who pays for the Home Report?
    The seller is responsible for providing the Home Report. There is nothing in the legislation insisting that the buyer must reimburse the seller for the cost of the Home Report.
  7. How much does a Home Report cost?
    The cost of a Single Survey and Energy Report is set by individual surveying firms and varies according to the size of the house. There should be very little, if any, costs associated with the Property Questionnaire as it is completed by the seller of the home.
  8. How 'old' can the Home Report documents be when the house is put on the market for sale?
    The legislation says that the documents should be no more than 12 weeks old when the house is put on the market.
  9. Does the Home Report have a specified shelf life? (i.e. should sellers have to pay for refreshed surveys if their houses have not sold after a few months?)
    The legislation does not impose a set shelf life or validity period for any of the Home Report documents. This reflects current practice for survey reports. Decisions as to whether any aspects of the Home Report need to be updated are for sellers, buyers and their professional advisers to take, depending on the circumstances of each case.
  10. How will I pay for the Home Report?
    This depends on the agreement between the seller and the firm they ask to compile the Home Report. Most Solicitor firms should be able to arrange deferred payment through the HSPC provider.
  11. 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?
    That is a decision for the seller. The seller may choose to rectify the problem or may proceed to market the house. There is nothing in the legislation that dictates what the seller must do. From the Single Survey report, the seller will at least be aware that there is a problem and have the options to decide what to do about it.

Frequently Asked Questions for Buyers

  1. How can buyers receive a copy Home Report?
    A Buyer should ask whoever is advertising the house for sale for a copy Home Report. This is usually a Solicitor or estate agent, but could be another business or an individual. If the seller isn't using a Solicitor or estate agent, the buyer should be able to get a Home Report directly from the seller.
  2. Will it cost buyers anything to obtain a copy Home Report?
    No, buyers will receive a Home Report free of charge, although they may have to pay a reasonable charge to cover the costs of copying and postage.
  3. How quickly must a seller or their agent comply with a request by a prospective buyer for a copy of the Home Report.
    A person responsible for marketing a house must provide a copy of the Home Report within 9 working days.
  4. If I buy the house, do I have to pay the seller back for the cost of the Home Report?
    This is a matter between the buyer and seller. There is nothing is the legislation that insists that the buyer of the house should reimburse the seller for the cost of the Home Report.
  5. Are Home Reports required across Scotland?
    Yes. All houses marketed for sale in Scotland require a Home Report, with only a few exceptions.
  6. What can buyers do if a Home Report is not provided?
    Buyers should receive a Home Report within 9 working days of requesting it. Sellers may refuse to provide a copy in certain limited cases. These are where the seller believes that the person making the request:
    • could not afford the house
    • is not really interested in buying the house
    • is not a person to whom the seller would wish to sell the house (but this does not allow them to unlawfully discriminate against someone)
    If a buyer believes that they are being denied a copy of the Home Report unlawfully, local authority Trading Standards officers are responsible for enforcement of these duties.

Summary

Since 1st December, 2008 a seller or a selling agent must provide, upon request, a Home Report to a prospective buyer.

A Home Report must contain:

  • A Single Survey prepared by a surveyor on the condition and value of the house
  • An Energy Report which will provide you with an energy efficiency rating of the house together with useful advice to cut fuel bills and increase the home energy efficiency
  • A Property Questionnaire containing further information about the house such as alterations that have been made, factoring costs and council tax banding.

The Property Questionnaire must be completed by the seller, or someone nominated by the seller.

A Home Report must be provided to a prospective buyer within nine working days. A seller or the selling agent may charge a prospective buyer a reasonable sum for copy and postage costs. To allow for the consideration of offers, and holiday periods, the seller or the selling agent may take a house off the market for up to four weeks on any number of occasions and put back on the market without having to obtain a new Home Report.

There will be limited occasions that a seller or selling agent can refuse to provide a copy of the Home Report, where they believe that the person making the request:

  • could not afford the house
  • is not genuinely interested in buying the house
  • is not a person to whom the seller would wish to sell the house (although you are prohibited from unlawfully discriminating against someone)

 

If a Trading Standards officer decides that the seller or selling agent is in breach of their duties to possess the Home Report documents and provide them to prospective purchasers, then a penalty charge notice of £500 may be issued.

Exceptions

If you are selling a home in Scotland, you will need a Home Report. However, there are some exceptions:

New housing - New housing includes homes that may be sold 'off-plan' to the first purchaser or sold to the first occupier. Any subsequent sale of a home will not be exempt even if it has a certificate from, for example, the National House-Building Council (NHBC).

Newly converted premises - This means a property which is being, or has been, converted to a home if it has not previously been used in its converted state.

Right to Buy homes - As the sale of a home to a tenant under the 'Right to Buy' legislation does not involve marketing, the duty to provide a Home Report does not apply. A separate package of information is being developed for Right to Buy purchasers.

Seasonal and holiday accommodation - This exception refers to seasonal and holiday accommodation (as defined in planning legislation), which only has permission to be used for less than 11 months in any year. It does not include second homes or holiday cottages that could be used all year if the owner so chose.

A portfolio of residential properties - This means a home which is to be sold with one or more other homes and where it is clear from the manner in which the homes are marketed that the seller does not intend to accept an offer to buy one of those homes in isolation from another. Sales of a portfolio of residential properties are considered to be commercial transactions. A home which is ancillary to a principal property may include, for example a 'granny flat', or butler's cottage that is attached to a larger property on a country estate.

'Mixed sales' - This occurs where a home is sold with one or more non-residential properties (provided it is clear that the seller does not intend to consider an offer to buy the home separately from the non-residential property). This might include farmhouses that are part of a working farm, or flats above shops or pubs that are sold with the shop or pub.

Dual use of a dwelling house - This describes the situation where the home is, or forms part of, a property most recently used for both residential and non-residential purposes, such as a commercial studio where the owner also lives in the home.

Unsafe properties - Unsafe properties are evidently in a condition that poses a serious risk to the health or safety of occupants or visitors, or where the way the home is marketed suggests it is unsuitable for occupation in that condition. There is little point in a condition survey being undertaken on a home that is unfit for occupation in any case, and is being advertised as such.

Properties to be demolished - There is an exception for homes to be demolished where it is clear the home is suitable for demolition and all the necessary consents have been obtained for demolition and consents obtained for redevelopment. There is little point in a condition survey being undertaken on a home that is to be demolished and is being advertised as a development site.

 

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