Home reports if you're buying a property
If you're interested in buying a property in Scotland, the seller will need to provide you with a home report. This is a pack that provides more information about the property for potential buyers.
Scotland is unaffected by the suspension of home reports in England and Wales.
What is a home report?
A home report is a pack of documents provided by the seller of a home that gives potential buyers information about a property for sale. The report consists of three components:
- a single survey
- an energy report
- a property questionnaire.
You can see sample copies of these reports on the Scottish Government's home report website.
What is in a home report?
The single survey
The single survey contains:
- an assessment of the condition of the home (for example, the roof, internal and external walls, plumbing and kitchen fittings)
- a valuation
- an accessibility audit for people with particular needs.
The energy report
The energy report gives the home an energy efficiency rating. The higher the rating, the more energy efficient the home is, and the lower the fuel bills are likely to be. It also looks at the impact the home has on the environment, through carbon dioxide emissions. The report looks at features such as how well insulated the home is, and how it is heated.
The energy report also recommends ways to improve the home's energy efficiency and reduce fuel bills.
The property questionnaire
The property questionnaire contains additional useful information about the property, for example:
- the property's council tax band
- parking arrangements
- alterations that have been made to the property
- whether there are any extra costs involved in living there (such as charges for the upkeep of communal areas).
Do all sellers have to provide a home report?
Anyone selling a home in Scotland will need to provide a home report for potential buyers. However, some properties are exempt, including:
- properties that went on the market before 1 December 2008
- new build homes that are being sold for the first time
- newly converted homes that have not been used before in their converted state
- seasonal and holiday accommodation (for example, holiday park homes) which cannot be used all year round (however, second homes and holiday homes must have home reports)
- homes bought through the right to buy (see below)
- properties that also have a commercial use (for example, a shop with a flat above it)
- properties that aren't fit to live in, or are going to be demolished.
How do I get a home report for a property?
If you're interested in buying a property, you should ask the person or business advertising the property (usually the seller's solicitor or estate agent) to send you a copy of the home report. They should do so within nine working days.
What if the seller refuses to give me a home report?
The seller (or the seller's solicitor or estate agent) can only refuse to give you a home report if they're certain you aren't serious about buying their property because:
- you can't afford it
- you aren't interested in buying it
- they wouldn't want to sell their home to you.
If you think the seller has unfairly refused to give you a home report, you can contact your local Trading Standards office and ask them to investigate.
How much will it cost?
It's up to the seller to pay for the costs of putting the home report together. However, they can charge you a small fee to cover copying and postage costs.
If you decide to buy the property, you may agree with the seller to cover the costs of the survey as part of the sale negotiations, but the seller can't make you do this.
Do I have to accept the home report?
No – you can choose to employ your own surveyor to look at the property as well. However, the home report will be carried out by an independent surveyor and you have a legal right to rely on the survey so it should be trustworthy.
What if my mortgage lender won't accept the home report?
You may need to get your own, independent survey carried out if your mortgage lender does not accept the home report as a basis for lending you money.
What about right to buy?
If you're buying your home through the right to buy scheme, the council or a housing association selling the property doesn't have to provide you with a home report.
The council will also need to provide you with an energy performance certificate, similar to the energy report. In the future, it will also have to give you information on the condition of the property, in a similar form to a home report.