Home reports are valued by buyers, the Scottish Government claims. And so, to an extent, it seems they are, as apparently over 60% of them claim to find the single survey, contained within the home report, "useful".
I say "apparently" because the figure features prominently in a press release announcing the publication of the evaluation of the first 12 months of the home report (which came in on 1 December 2008), but actual figures of this sort are hard to find in the evaluation itself or the accompanying "research findings" document.
The suspicion that the results are being talked up develops as one realises that something approaching 40% of buyers didn't actually find it useful, though they were presumably quite satisfied with the old style valuations on which over 90% of them used to rely. And to say that "over one in five buyers found the energy report and property questionnaire useful", as the blurb continues, hardly discloses a ringing endorsement.
Next we are told that "Around a third of sellers said they had used the information to improve the quality of their property before placing it on the market." This contrasts with the statement in the report itself: "There is evidence that a small number of sellers are using the survey to guide work that needs to be undertaken pre-sale."
In fact findings of seller attitudes generally are conspicuous by their absence, though there is clearly a considerable level of ignorance as to how to use the system to best advantage: that it is cheaper to commission directly; how easily buyers will be able to access the report; and of the lenders' panel system, which no doubt accounts in part for the "significant level of additional reports".
Professional opinion admittedly remains sharply divided. Some solicitors admit they have been converted to home reports by the experience of using them. Others continue to resent their imposition. Surveyors of course are happy: home reports have protected their income through the recession.
The Government promised to reassess the system in the light of its operation over the initial period. Clearly ministers are not minded to make any significant changes. But the profession and the public deserve a bit more information than has so far been published.