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Vendor liaison checklist

Vendor liaison checklist

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.

RICS members/ regulated firms can find further supporting information on the Health & Safety and Equipment checklist.

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.

Using vendor questionnaires

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:

  • If practical to do so, give the questionnaire to the occupier at the start and ask them to complete it while you inspect the property. This gives them some time to complete the form and find all the necessary information. Read the completed form to make sure you have the necessary information; or
  • If practical, talk to the vendor as soon as you arrive and go through each question verbally. This allows you to explain and discuss the topics in more depth, gives you a good insight into the property, and establishes a positive relationship with the vendor.

Building a relationship with the vendor – on arrival

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:

  • Arrive on time with proof of your identity.
  • Explain the purpose of the inspection.
  • Outline your approach to the inspection – how long it will take (you should already have confirmed the probable length of your inspection prior to inspection), what rooms and spaces you will need to inspect, etc.
  • Deal with the vendor's questionnaire if appropriate (see above).
  • Ask the vendor to briefly show you around the property. This introduces you to the property, allows you to ask gentle but probing questions, enables you to assess any safety risks, and make arrangements for inspecting occupied areas, for example, bedrooms with sleeping occupants, etc.
  • Ask the vendor to open any hatches and access panels that they would open during the normal use of the property – this will not only save you time, it will help you carry out a more thorough inspection.
  • Ask the vendor to remove any obstructions from hallways, windows if practical etc.
  • Ask the vendor if there are any defective elements that may be damaged if operated or checked, such as windows that do not shut, taps that cannot be operated.
  • If the only person in the property during the inspection is below the age of 18, or is someone who you judge to be vulnerable in some way, you must postpone your inspection until an adult or carer can be present. In this instance, please also refer to your company policy.

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.

Dealing with vendor enquiries

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 address:

General

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:

    • How many years until expiry and has an application been made to extend the lease?
    • How much is the ground rent, and does it increase?
    • How much is the service charge?
    • What is the name of the managing agent?
    • What is the name of the freehold/rent charge owner?
    • Are there any restrictions imposed by the lease?

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)?

Access

  • Does the property have any concealed access hatched or doorways that can be opened?
  • Are there any parts of the property that cannot be inspected because of restricted access e.g. stored possessions, occupier affected by an illness, etc?

Services

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:

  • Is this a shared supply?
  • Where is the external stopcock?
  • Where is the internal stopcock?
  • Is the water metered?
  • Where is the water meter located?

If you have a private water supply:

  • What is the source (e.g. spring, borehole, stream, well) and where is it (e.g. on your land)?
  • What treatment method is used?
  • Has the water quality been recently assessed?
  • If you have a cess pit, septic tank, or sewage treatment plant:
  • Where is the tank?
  • What is the tank volume/ capacity?
  • What material is constructed of?
  • How often is it emptied?
  • Where does it discharge? Do you have a discharge permit?
  • Do you have any invoices or certificates?
  • Are there any easements in place for services (i.e. water, gas, electric, drainage, telephone which pass under or through your property or your neighbours’ property)?

Safety and inspection issues

  • Does the property have cladding? If so, what type? Please give brief description:
  • Details on burglar alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, smoke alarms?
  • Do you know if there are any bats in the property?
  • Are there any air pollution issues affecting the property?

Legal issues

  • Is the property a ‘listed building’ or is it in a conservation area?
  • Are there any rights of way over the property?
  • Is there any shared access to the gardens or grounds?
  • Do you know which boundaries you are responsible for maintaining?
  • Is your property currently affected by neighbour or boundary disputes? If yes, please give brief details.
  • Are there any outstanding party wall issues?
  • Has the road to the property been adopted by the local authority or is it privately owned?
  • Are there any tree preservation orders on trees within the grounds?
  • To your knowledge, has the property (or any neighbouring property) been affected by Japanese Knotweed or any other invasive plant?
  • Are there any flying freeholds? (i.e. do any parts of your property protrude over your neighbour’s?) If yes, please give details.
  • Have there been any disputes or complaints about this property or one nearby?
  • Do you have information on warranties and guarantees relevant to this property?

Repairs and defects

Have you carried out any structural alteration and/or repair work or added an extension, converted a loft, etc?

If yes:

  • What did this involve?
  • What date did you do this?
  • Did you obtain building regulation approval and planning permission?

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.

Covid-19 health and safety questions

Examples of pre-inspection health-related questions for clients/occupiers/ vendors:

  • Are you in an at-risk category as outlined by the government?
  • Are you or is anyone in your household symptomatic?
  • Have you or anyone in the household tested positive?
  • Have you or anyone in your household been self-isolating in accordance with government and Public Health guidelines?
  • Are you able to leave the property for the duration of internal inspection?

Other notes [or Additional information]

 

To be filled by the seller.

 

I have checked the above information and can confirm that it is accurate.

Signed:

Dated: