This content outlines some tips on liasing with vendors.
This is live content and is supporting information only. It is not intended to be mandatory or prescriptive guidance.
Before the inspection, get as much information from the vendor, occupier or the person in charge of the property as possible. The exact process and timing of this depends on the circumstances, but the more upfront information you obtain, the better informed you will be.
Where relevant and practical, the vendor and/or the owner or their agent should be asked to provide appropriate information as outlined in the RICS Home Survey Standard 1st edition Professional Statement, section 3.2. Where information is offered, the RICS member and/or regulated firm should keep a clear record.
RICS has produced a range of practical guides to enable RICS professionals to work safely and in line with government guidelines through the COVID-19 pandemic.
The RICS COVID-19 guide to surveying services: Physical inspections for the purpose of residential valuations and condition-based surveys includes recommendations for before, during and after a physical inspection.
COVID-19 is having an impact on industry professionals whose work involves direct contact with clients, occupiers, tenants and home movers whether in an office or through visits to a private residential property. This is causing significant uncertainty for many, especially as Government guidance continues to evolve.
The guidance focuses on physical contact points in the home moving process whereby professionals delivering services will need to come into contact with people and/or enter private residential properties. This includes guidance for consumers and recommended questions to ask vendors/occupiers prior to physical inspections. The guidance can be found here COVID-19 guides to surveying service.
In addition, RICS members and / or regulated firms may find the Home Buying and Selling Group industry guidance on COVID-19, which contains useful consumer guidance on safe home moving to ensure clarity, transparency and a smooth process for all parties.
Please note as the situation and guidance in this area is constantly evolving, we intend for this information to be updated regularly.
Many firms will have their own policies on engaging with vendors. Please refer to your company’s policy throughout the delivery of your service.
The surveyor will use reasonable endeavours to capture relevant information pre-inspection to support the service. A questionnaire completed by the vendor should be regarded as one of the pre-inspection checks. The process of developing and implementing your own questionnaire largely depends on how you are instructed and the procedures you prefer to follow. Completing the questionnaire in advance of the inspection can save time on the day and it gives the vendor time to locate all the necessary information (guarantees, certificates, etc) at their convenience. However, it is important to remember that the questionnaire has been written and presented in plain, easy to digest language.
If the vendor has completed the questionnaire, you may need to refer to the responses during your time at the property because many of the answers can give an insight into condition and may have to be followed up.
Alternatively, if the questionnaire isn’t completed in advance, it could be completed at the time of inspection:
A positive relationship with the vendor can reveal a lot of useful information about the property. It may be useful to follow a systematic procedure to build a positive relationship and demonstrate responsible, professional behaviours:
Once the initial and brief walkabout is complete, politely inform the vendor you want to carry out the rest of the inspection on your own.
Whatever the circumstances, many sellers will be very interested in what you thought of their home and what you might include in your report. This can be a difficult discussion because you are there working for the buyer to whom you owe the primary duty.
Avoid being drawn into discussing controversial issues you may have just spotted or commenting on the findings during the inspection. One of the best explanations is to say you cannot come to instant judgments and need to review your notes before you come to any firm conclusions. It will help everyone if you stay as neutral as possible.
Where information is offered by the vendor/occupier, the RICS member should keep a clear record. This must be securely stored and accessible in compliance with current data protection legislation and regulations.
RICS professionals and RICS regulated firms are expected to behave ethically and professionally, while taking adequate steps to consider health and safety at all times for all parties involved.
The information contained here is regularly reviewed to support members in safely delivering the highest level of service.
Appendix A: Vendor questionnaire example
Person completing the checklist:
Property type (e.g. flat, house, maisonette):
Date property was built:
Do you know the name of the builder who constructed the property?
How long have you owned the property?
Is it freehold or leasehold? If leasehold or managed leasehold:
Is the property shared ownership? If yes, please give details:
What is the council, tax band and/or rateable value?
What parking arrangements are there (e.g. off street, on street, allocated parking space, shared parking, driveway, resident permit)?
What type of service systems does the property have (e.g. electricity, gas meter, mains water or private water supply? Please give details:
When was the electrical system installed/replaced/tested/serviced/altered? Do you have any certification?
When was the main heating system installed/replaced/tested/serviced/altered? Do you have any certification?
If you have a mains water supply:
If you have a private water supply:
Have you carried out any structural alteration and/or repair work or added an extension, converted a loft, etc?
If yes to the above, do you have the appropriate documentation and any guarantees/warranties for any of the repairs carried out?
Is the property affected by any known current defects or other problems? If yes, please give full details.
Have there been any structural alterations, extensions, significant repairs or renewals to the property? If yes, outline the nature of the work for each and confirm the year it was completed.
Have you improved the energy efficiency of the property? If yes, please give details.
Examples of pre-inspection health-related questions for clients/occupiers/ vendors:
To be filled by the seller.
I have checked the above information and can confirm that it is accurate.