Paul Wareham (pictured) is managing director of business to business at Countrywide
We live in extraordinary times in which limitless digital resources are at our fingertips to compare products and services for price, quality and suitability.
Whether it’s sofas, shoes, cars or restaurants, most of us know where to go for advice including maybe a Google review, a Which? magazine product test or a YouTube video.
But when we’re about to buy the most expensive item of all, a home, advice is harder to find.
This makes it difficult for prospective purchasers to easily pinpoint the information they need to make the right decision about a property.
At Countrywide Surveying Services we have been working hard for some time to fill this knowledge gap.
We understand what our customers like and don’t like and importantly we recognise what people want to know about a property before they buy.
Over 15,000 people have fed back to us what will give them piece of mind before they commit to spending hundreds or thousands of pounds to a purchase.
The result is called HomeFact. It’s an interactive report that combines all the expertise of our surveyors with other online information sources that we’ve gathered about the property and its surrounding area.
This is all rolled into a single, easy-to-understand report available to read on a mobile phone or tablet.
We are the first company to launch an initiative of this kind, which is packed with information specific to the property being offered for sale.
More for less
HomeFact tells buyers what they need to know about a property’s interior and exterior construction as well as its gardens and grounds.
This includes any defects including problems that may require work whether minor or serious, all using a simple system of coloured symbols accompanied with written advice and detailed photographs.
We have also linked the HomeFact report to experts from the Property Care Association who know about the different structural problems found in properties for sale. They can answer specific issues identified in the report including how much it will cost to fix.
Need for speed
The report also contains a link to information about the availability and speed of broadband at an address, something I wish my family had been given access to when we bought our home over a decade ago.
I didn’t check for broadband speeds and moved in to discover that the internet was incredibly slow, making working from home extremely difficult, among other things.
HomeFact also provides detailed information about burglaries and other crimes in the area as well as transport links, cultural and sporting facilities, shops, medical and sporting facilities, restaurants and perhaps most importantly for families, schools.
Know before you buy
I believe our HomeFact service offers comfort and peace of mind to home buyers about the condition of their property before they buy, presented in a format that’s easy to understand and which offers more value for money than a mortgage valuation report, and costs less than a traditional survey.
It will be a game changer in a market where information has been lacking, and bring home buying up to speed with the rest of the consumer world.