Legalities of Home Reports

A home report is a document that is used by a buyer and mortgage lender to evaluate a properties suitability. Until recently it was paid for by the buyer who would commission a survey of the property. This is a bit like going to a car salesman and being told you have to pay to find out what condition it’s in before purchasing. The rules have changed so that the home owner or seller is the one legally required to pay for the report to be made. There are a few exceptions that do not require a home report such as properties that went on the market before 1st Dec 2008 and new build homes that are being sold for the first time. Unfortunately these reports don’t come for free and will set you back between £350 and £700.

A home report is comprised of a survey compiled by a chartered surveyor which will contain specific information on the condition of the property as well as accessibility information and an overall valuation. It will also include an energy report of the property to gauge its efficiency and a general questionnaire. The ratings run from A to G with A being the best. The better the energy report is the less the home owner will have to pay on fuel bills. The questionnaire will be about matters such as the council tax band and changes that have been made to the property.

One of the advantages of having an estate agent sell your property for you is that they will usually organize the home report and send it out to prospective buyers when necessary. There are advantages to home owners being required to provide home reports. It can mean that the process of selling a home can be sped up as sellers will not need to wait for buyers to organize their own property surveys.

Calum Macleod writes for Result Property, an estate agents to the highlands of Scotland.

This week, Last Week Tonight tackled credit reports, or as John Oliver calls them, “the basis for the single most important three digit number in your whole life other than 311, the Beatles of rap-rock.”

Credit reports can affect many aspects of your life, including whether banks will lend you money or whether a landlord will rent you an apartment, and over half of employers used credit checks to vet employees.

There are a few major problem with that, though. First, 52% of all debt on credit reports is from medical expenses, which Oliver notes is unfair, as “no one chooses to be sick, with the possible exception of Julianne Moore taking a run at best actress.”

Perhaps more problematic is that a Federal Trade Commission study revealed that one in four credit reports has an error and one in 20 has a significant error, including wrongfully flagging people as terrorists or, perhaps worse, dead. These mistakes cost people housing and jobs and disputing errors is difficult, if not functionally impossible.

There is nothing new about the problem, either. Oliver showed news clips going back to the early ’90s all reporting the same story — that credit reports are riddled with errors. According to Oliver, the three major credit reporting agencies — TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax — are not working (or not working quickly enough) to resolve the problem. In fact, because of their reticence to correct the problem, Oliver believes the credit agencies are fine with a 95% success rate, that leaves 5% of their customers (or 10 million people, roughly the population of Sweden, Oliver notes) with erroneous credit reports that affect their lives and livelihoods.

To fight back, Oliver and his teams opened three fake businesses with names (and websites) that are “problematically similar” to those of the three major credit reporting agencies (warning: these websites contain adult content that some readers may find offensive) — Equifacks, Experianne, TramsOnion. He is certain that 95% of people who visit the sites will not be confused between Experian, the credit reporting agency, and Experianne, a website that whispers verses of Mein Kampf to babies. As the website says, “We are Experianne. Please do not mistake us for Experian. What they do is unforgivable.”