28 Aug 2018
A warning to people selling their homes to beware of internet-based scams offering cut-price Home Reports has been sounded by Eric Curran, managing partner of DM Hall, one of Scotland’s largest independent firms of chartered surveyors.
Home Reports are required by law by anyone selling their home in Scotland. The price of a Home Report, which should be prepared by an established and reputable firm of chartered surveyors, starts at around £300 plus VAT based on the value of the property.
Its purpose is to provide potential purchasers with all the relevant information they need if they are thinking about making an offer on a property. It also provides sellers with information to decide whether or not potential home improvements should be undertaken before they put the property on the market. The content of the reports are heavily relied upon by purchaser’s lenders when deciding on mortgage funding.
But a number of recent instances in Scotland have come to light where scammers, impersonating reputable firms of chartered surveyors have been offering unsuspecting home sellers cut-rate Home Reports over Facebook and other social media platforms.
Mr Curran, who is also chair of the Residential Property Professional Group Board of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), said: “Scammers have been exposed recently for doctoring Home Reports which may have been carried out some years ago and are in the public domain, by re-dating them and passing them off as the recent work of established firms of chartered surveyors.
“They use our name and those of other reputable firms because they recognise that, as panel surveyors preferred by leading lenders, our professional opinion is highly-rated and forms the basis of their lending decisions.
“But when it comes to light that the Home Report in question is fake, lenders will immediately withdraw their offer of finance and the planned sale could collapse, causing serious irritation to everyone concerned; most likely, the house seller will be left out of pocket.”
Mr Curran warns anyone selling their house to look out for the tell-tale signs that they are being ensnared in a Home Report scam.
“First, they will offer their “services” on social media at a price which is more than half the going rate and, second, will demand to be paid in cash. Contact numbers and company names are conspicuous by their absence.
“Wise homeowners should have nothing whatever to do with them or accept that they are about to become a victim. Alternatively they should seek the guidance and advice of a firm whose members are regulated by the code of conduct of the RICS.”