A warning to people selling their homes to beware of internet-based scams offering cut-price surveys has been sounded by a leading chartered surveyor in Scotland.
Eric Curran, managing partner of DM Hall - one of Scotland’s largest independent firms of chartered surveyors - says the scams have come to light thanks to the Scottish sales system under which Home Reports are required by law by all vendors.
The price of a Home Report starts at around £300 plus VAT and is based on the value of the property. Its purpose is to provide potential purchasers with all the relevant information they need ahead of making an offer - and it provides sellers with information to decide whether or not improvements should be undertaken before they go to the market.
However Curran says 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.
Curran, who is also chair of the Residential Property Professional Group Board of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, says: “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.”
Curran says anyone selling their house should 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.”