Being a first-time buyer can sometimes be a daunting experience as you furiously gather together reams of paperwork before handing over your hard-earned cash.

One of the documents that you’ll likely pore over prior to being given the keys is the HomeBuyer Report, which is essentially a survey detailing the state of the property you are preparing to buy.

The report is designed to give you an accurate account of the property’s condition and will highlight any problems that need rectifying before the purchase is complete.

These documents can often be written in industry jargon and so Rightmove’s very own property expert Miles Shipside has shared some top tips for understanding the important messages beneath the waffle.

He said: “A HomeBuyer Report is a much more detailed inspection than the standard mortgage valuation, which is for the lenders to make sure they are lending on a suitable mortgage security.

“It gives a buyer peace of mind if nothing major is found wrong, and forewarning if there are defects a buyer may not have been aware of.

“A list of defects can sound off-putting and daunting to a buyer who quite naturally does not deal in property defects in their everyday lives. Speaking to the surveyor can often put your mind into a more positive place, as can speaking to a tradesman who can quote for putting the defects right.”

The cost of a HomeBuyer Report will start in the region of £400 depending on the size and value of the property – but it could save you money in the long run by identifying any structural problems, such as subsidence or damp.

Keep in mind, though, that the HomeBuyer Report doesn’t look beyond the floorboards or behind the walls.

But once your surveyor has visited the property you are hoping to buy, you should receive the report in just a few days, and it may open an opportunity to renegotiate on the price of the house or flat you want.

Shipside adds: “Obviously, there may be serious defects which could put you off, or on the other hand, give you leverage to reduce your offer to pay for anything defective and unexpected that was not priced into your original offer.

“Emotionally, it can be hard to cope with when what you thought was your dream home turns out to have some issues. It’s worth remembering that it could still be a dream home with any defects considered in a revised purchase price, if you get quality trade people to help put it right.

“It’s worth the seller noting that any other buyer may discover the same defects, so they are best to discuss the price to keep you on board.”

Jane Peake, sales manager at Fine & Country in West Bridgford, added: “My advice would be to choose a good agent and a good surveyor and ask them to explain all the technical terms to you.

“The last thing you want is to be frightened to death if you are not used to all that industry speak. But even if there is something in the report that worries you, I believe that all things are fixable.

“A good surveyor will spend time with you to make sure that you don’t spend hundreds or thousands of pounds unnecessarily.

“But it all depends on how thorough people want to be, and everything will need looking into. Listed buildings will probably require a full structural survey, but on the whole, don’t panic and don’t be afraid to ask the experts for advice.”

Type of surveyWhat’s included?How much does it cost?
RICS Condition ReportDescribes the condition of the property, identifies any risks and potential legal issues and highlights any urgent defects. It’s most suitable for new-build and conventional homes in good condition; no advice or valuation is provided.£250
HomeBuyer ReportThis will help you find out if there are any structural problems, such as subsidence or damp, as well as any other unwelcome hidden issues inside and outside.£400
RICS Building SurveyProvides the same level of in-depth inspection as a building survey, but uses a simple 1, 2, 3 rating system to ensure that you can easily identify the most serious issues. This is mainly aimed at larger or older properties, or if you’re planning major works.£400-£500
Full structural surveyThis is the most comprehensive survey and is suitable for all residential properties. It’s particularly good for older homes or homes that might need repairs.£600
New-build snagging surveyThis is an independent inspection to look for any issues with the property. Developers should fix faults highlighted before you move in.£300
Mortgage valuation surveyThis is to satisfy the lender that your desired property is worth the price you’re paying – or at least the amount it’s lending, before they approve your mortgage. It won’t point out repairs or structural problems that you will have to pay to fix.£150 to £1,500