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Property Investors: Don’t forget a Buy-to-Let Survey

Are you thinking about becoming a Buy-to-Let investor? Perhaps you already have a portfolio that you’re planning to expand? It doesn’t matter how long you intend to have your property or who you’re going to house in it, it’s always essential that you know as much as possible about it before entering negotiations.

Getting a property survey is the best way of achieving this. Between Condition Surveys that verify the overall structural integrity and Building Surveys that scrutinise every last detail, purchasers have a wealth of resources to help them understand a given property.

When it comes to a home intended for Buy-to-Let purposes, having an expert report is even more important. Unlike buying your own home, you’ll need to be looking at a property for its commercial viability, putting yourself in the shoes of future tenants as well as from the perspective of a landlord.

This is why some surveyors have started to build a specific Buy-to-Let Survey, which provides all the information you need to make a considered investment.

What is a Buy-to-Let Survey?

A Buy-to-Let Survey is intended to highlight features and flaws in the property that will be of the biggest concern to landlords and future tenants. This can assist with assessing the viability of a house or flat as a commercial venture, help you estimate your return on investment and warn you of any potential repairs that may be required in the foreseeable future.

What will a Buy-to-Let Survey include?

By its nature, a Buy-to-Let Survey will have some overlap with existing property surveys endorsed by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). These typically include:

  • Check of windows and doors
  • Internal and external inspection of roof
  • Ventilation assessment
  • Inspection of roofline, including gutters and chimneys
  • Examination of extensions or other modifications
  • Damp assessment
  • Looking for signs of structural movement
  • Inspection for wood-boring beetle and timber decay

Alan Rance, owner of Alan Rance Surveyors in Dunstable, already offers these dedicated surveys and can give investors an idea about what to inspect:

“Our Buy-to-Let Surveys are designed to identify any structural, legal or safety issues with the property. This includes an investigation of the building (or buildings), grounds and boundaries, EPC advice and inclusion of any relevant information that has come from Building Control or the local Council”.

How a Buy-to-Let Survey will benefit your fixer-upper

If you’re planning to buy a property that you know needs some work, getting the right survey will be able to confirm that the structure is in the condition it appears to be. The last thing you want to do is invest in a building that you think just needs superficial work, only to find that the floor or roof timbers are rotten and need to be completely replaced at a huge cost.

A Buy-to-Let Survey can be used to identify exactly what work needs doing (and how urgently), allowing you to accurately determine whether the project will still be cost-effective for you. It’s a useful tool for estimating your expenses and timescale before getting tenants in, and you may decide that it’s not the best investment for you after all.

What if you’re renting the property as it is?

Even if you think the property is in excellent condition, it’s still important to get a survey. Untrained eyes can easily miss small details, particularly if the interior or exterior has been redecorated to mask the appearance of cracks, damp patches or other signs of structural damage.

Letting out a property and allowing your tenants to find defects is high risk. While some types of renter (students, for example), might not mind living with a few issues and will be happy to have contractors show up to fix them, those looking for quality accommodation will not be pleased.

Protect your reputation and business by commissioning a property survey before investing.

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