If you're buying a home, you'll want to know it's worth what you're paying for it. And if you're taking out a mortgage, your lender will want to know it's worth lending money against the house.
This is usually done by instructing a surveyor. Your lender might provide this service itself, or it may be done independently. It's important to know who's responsible if you need to make a complaint.
What's the difference between a valuation and a survey?
Your lender will probably insist that you pay for a basic valuation to be carried out as part of your mortgage application. Generally, the lender will instruct the valuer for you. But you can choose who will carry this out, as long as it's a qualified surveyor accredited by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) on the lender's approved panel.
More in-depth reports are generally optional - so it's up to you whether to get them carried out. Like valuation reports, these inspections should be carried out by a RICS surveyor. It doesn't have to be the same surveyor as used for the valuation, but that can keep costs lower.
The surveyor will produce a report giving basic information about the property and indicating its likely value. The mortgage lender will rely on this information when making its lending decision.
Full Structural Survey
A much more detailed report by the surveyor, which - in addition to the valuation - gives greater information about the condition of the property and might recommend repairs or specific reports to be carried out. This is likely to be of use to you if you want to know about possible future expense, you want to negotiate a lower purchase price - or in helping you to decide whether to go ahead with the purchase.
This is another type of inspection you can choose to have carried out. As well as giving a basic overview, a HomeBuyer's Report goes into more detail on the quality and condition of the property, including maintenance advice. It's not as in-depth as a structural survey.
You should bear in mind that whether it's a Homebuyer's Report or a Structural Survey, the inspection is usually limited to looking for existing or potential defects with things that are immediately visible or reasonably accessible.
Types of complaints we see
People come to us with a range of complaints about mortgage valuations and surveys. Things we hear include:
- the surveyor carried out the wrong type of inspection
- the inspection was carried out badly and didn’t identify property defects
- the valuation didn’t match the asking price – so the lender wouldn't offer what I needed to buy the property
- the property wasn't worth what the valuer said, and now I'm in negative equity
How to complain
If you think there’s a problem with your survey or valuation it might be the lender's responsibility, or it might be that you need to take up your concerns with the surveyor. It’s important to note that we can only look at complaints about things the lender is responsible for.
If your complaint's about your lender
Explain to your lender what you’re unhappy about, and the reasons why. If you’re not happy with their response, you can bring your complaint to us.
We'll weigh up the evidence and tell you what we think. It’s important that you give us as much information as possible about your complaint.
Find out more about how to complain to us.
If your complaint's about the surveyor
The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors can help you to resolve disputes with an independent surveyor.
If you're not sure who you should be complaining about
It isn’t always obvious what a lender is and isn’t responsible for. So that we can help you to direct your complaint to the right place, it's useful to know:
- was the surveyor acting independently, or acting for the lender? The report will generally make this clear
- did the lender say or suggest anything in or about the report that you relied on, and which turned out to be wrong?
What we look at
If we decide the lender is responsible for the report, we may decide they’re liable for any problems arising from the survey. We’d need to establish whether or not you’ve lost out as a result of the lender’s actions or opinions – and whether you could have reasonably avoided this.
For example, if you paid for a HomeBuyer’s report but only received a basic mortgage valuation, we'd generally expect you to query this with the lender when you receive the report.
We’ll ask you and your lender to provide us with various documents and information. Depending on what your complaint is about, this might include:
- the report or survey itself
- the mortgage application form
- information your lender gave you about the types of inspections available
- the lender’s instructions to the surveyor
- builders’ reports and estimates for repairs
'The valuation was too low, and now I can't get the mortgage I need'
For information on complaining about RICS-qualified surveyors, see the RICS website.
Search our decisions database to see our past decisions on complaints involving valuations and surveys.
We also have detailed information for businesses responding to a complaint about valuations and surveys on the business section of our website.