When, in 2008, the government introduced the Home Report system in Scotland, it meant buyers had access to all of the information needed before proceeding with making an offer on a property.

Eight years on, here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the document, which is unique to Scotland.

Who is responsible for paying for the Home Report?

It is the responsibility of the seller to pay for a Home Report to be produced about their property, before putting it on the market. All properties for sale in Scotland should be marketed with a Home Report.

There are some exceptions, however, including those listed below:

  • New housing sold 'off-plan'
  • Newly converted premises
  • Seasonal and holiday accommodation with permission to be used for fewer than 11 months a year
  • Evidently unsafe properties
  • Properties which are to be demolished
  • Portfolios of residential properties (considered commercial transactions)
  • Mixed sales when a home is sold with one or more non-residential properties - a farmhouse on a working farm, for instance
  • Dual use homes used for both residential and non-residential purposes

How do I get a copy of the Home Report?

If you're interested in a property, you can request a copy from the seller or their estate agent, which should be sent to you within nine working days. You may be charged, within reason, for the cost of copying and posting the Home Report.

It is also worth bearing in mind that a seller or estate agent doesn't have to send you a copy if they think you:

  • Could not afford the house
  • Are not interested in buying the house
  • Are not a person to whom the seller would wish to sell the house (although they can't unlawfully discriminate against you)

What is included in a Home Report?

The three documents that make up a Scottish Home Report aim to give prospective buyers a comprehensive understanding of the condition of the property and are:

  • The single survey. This is carried out by a surveyor who'll report on the condition of the property (for example, any problems with the roof, damp, cracking or timber defects). This includes an accessibility audit for those with particular needs. A market valuation will also be provided for the buyer to obtain a mortgage.
  • An energy report. This will show the energy efficiency of the property, assess its environmental impact, and make recommendations on how the property could be made more energy efficient.
  • Property questionnaire. Completed by the seller of the property, this section contains additional information which may be useful to a prospective buyer - council tax banding, any alternations made to the house, any factoring costs and so on.

These documents should be no more than 12 weeks old when the property is put on the market, although there is no official 'expiry date' for Home Reports. However, if the home is for sale for a very long time, you may consider asking for a 'refresh' survey report.

Can I contact the surveyor for clarification on points I don't understand?

In short, buyers can't contact the surveyor who carried out the single survey with additional questions. The reason for this is simple - the surveyor is obliged to provide exactly the same information to everyone who receives the Home Report and it can't be guaranteed that the answers to questions from one individual will reach all of the recipients.

Will I have to pay for any additional surveys?

The Home Report will provide all the necessary information (including a market valuation), but some solicitors will advise buyers to pay for their own independent survey and valuation to be carried out.

This is sometimes the case when it comes to getting mortgage lenders to accept the valuation. They'll have a list of approved surveyors and if the surveyor who did the valuation listed in the Home Report for the property you are interested in isn't approved, they could request that their own survey is carried out by an approved surveyor.