When property surveys are mentioned, the professional described as a Chartered Surveyor often features. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, is based in London and has about 120,000 members worldwide, the vast majority, of course, living and working in the UK. I am vice-president of RICS España. As we quote in our Survey Spain brochure, it’s dedicated to promoting excellence and safeguarding public interest in all property related matters. All Chartered Surveyors have to follow strict rules of ethical conduct, which are enforced by the RICS. Again it’s this latter point that the client is reassured by. We have to have professional indemnity insurance so that if we make a mistake and it costs the client money, there is a fund there to recompense him or her. (Incidentally, I find that many surveys are initiated by woman as they, perhaps as the worrier in a relationship, want the reassurance of an independent confirmation of their husband’s comment that “of course its alright. Don’t fuss!”)

Chartered Surveyors have to be respectful of their client’s interest and if they are not, or get up to any shady dealings, can be fined or even thrown out of the Institution. And, unfortunately, it does happen with regular disciplinary proceedings being reported in the professions journal.

Chartered Surveyors cover a wide range – QS, land, mining and even specialists in undersea surveys. Most people come across Either Quantity Surveyors (a QS) – who can be very roughly described as being involved in the construction process, such as cost control, project management and the like; OR general practice surveyors who tend to be more involved with existing buildings and their defects or the finance, the market value, created by the building, its land and location. I am a general practice surveyor and have worked on a huge range of property types and values (and with some interesting clients!) over the years.

Oh yes, and one last observation. Professionals have clients who pay their fees. So why is it that the buyer here is called the client when the fees are paid by the seller? It’s the cause of some confusion and heart-searching by conscientious agents as, at the end of the day, when push comes to shove in a negotiation, the client, the seller, is not going to be happy to pay somebody who has just negotiated away large amounts off the selling price to the benefit of the buyer. So there must be a reluctance to truly represent the buyer and effectively he is out there on his own. And whom is the white knight coming to his assistance? The Chartered Surveyor of course! There is no Spanish equivalent.