The research explored the awareness, knowledge and understanding of the Home Report, how it has worked in practice and whether it is meeting its original objectives.
The findings show that awareness of the Home Report is high although detailed knowledge is less common. Sellers felt more confident about the property price and buyers found the repair categories and valuation particularly useful, although many did not read the whole Home Report. Professionals were concerned that buyers see the Home Report as a guarantee of property condition, which is it not.
The research concludes that the Home Report has met two of the three original objectives: to reduce multiple surveys and to prevent artificially low asking prices (although this latter objective is likely to also have been influenced by the housing market). The third objective (to improve the condition of housing stock) is a longer term goal, because the Home Report only has the potential to influence the condition of properties put up for sale.
The research also identified a conflict of interest between the seller, the surveyor and the buyer, which professionals see as inherent in the Home Report commissioning process. This has two potential impacts: pressure applied (by or on behalf of the seller) on the surveyor to improve the single survey, or sellers commissioning a number of single surveys to pick the highest value survey.
The report’s authors made a number of recommendations:
• The Home Report should be shorter, with a one-page summary at the front containing key information on repairs, valuation and a statement of the Home Report’s purpose and status;
• More information/guidance on the Home Report should be made available to buyers and sellers before they begin marketing or searching. This should address all areas of misunderstanding (for example, that it is a visual survey only);
• The current Home Report objectives should be retained and a new objective be considered that makes the energy improvement requirements clearer;
• The Scottish Government should reconvene the ‘Home Report Implementation Group’, inviting representatives from all relevant professions and stakeholders to attend, in order to address the conflict of interest in the current system and other issues raised by the review.