TFO's Terry Markham: Surveyors - The broken cog in the machine

TFO's Terry Markham: Surveyors - The broken cog in the machine




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Call it the ‘Credit Crunch’, the ‘Banking Crisis’ or even the ‘Global Downturn’, a bitter pill by any other name! It is true: the global economic issues have caused property values to drop at alarming levels.

BUT, is it entirely down to the bad choices made by bankers over the last decade or so?
 
I think not. I’m sure I am not alone in finding that mortgage, bridging, second charge, or even commercial mortgage applications, have been failing to reach legal completion. These failings could be for a number of reasons. However, the one thing that all these applications have in common is the need for a valuation.
 
Valuation. The mere uttering of the word makes many brokers shiver and break out into cold sweats.
 
So let’s look at the roll of the surveyor in the purchase, or refinance, of property within our lands. The surveyor undergoes many years of intense training in how to recognise problems within the fabric of a property and report it accordingly – often offering advice on how to rectify these problems, such as “a qualified person should be sought to report on this problem and all recommendations should be carried out” – or various “professional indemnities” which preserve cut and paste sentences such as this one.
 
I would be the first to say that when it comes to somebody purchasing a property, anybody who doesn’t instruct at least an intermediate Home Buyers survey, must be taking leave of their senses.
 
In question is not whether surveyors know their onions when it comes to spotting damp, structural faults etcetera but, what scientific training do they undergo to ensure they reach the correct market price for any property they have been instructed to value on behalf of a lender?
 
This prompts a number of further questions:
 
1. When was the last time a surveyor was instructed to value a property without being told what the anticipated value was?
 
 
2. When was the last time a surveyor actually left his/her office without first receiving the fees for doing so?
 
3. When was the last time a surveyor gave a refund when they “scientifically” detected that the anticipated value was not near what was instructed and the cost of the valuation fell into the cost bracket below what was initially charged?
 
4. Yadder, yadder, yadder……
 
Any broker, who has a doubt as to the valuation figure being suggested by their customer, checks all the same websites, such as Up My Street, Net House Prices and Rightmove, prior to spending their customer’s hard earned cash on valuations. Therefore, it must be said that applications are entered into in good faith and surveyors instructed accordingly.
 
This brings me back to my original question about the global economic issues we have gone through and continue to face.
 
Surveyors are hiding behind this as the best excuse ever. Imagine a job where you get told what the expected result should be and get paid before you do the job!
 
But this is not enough! Over the last couple of years there have been whispers that Head Offices of large survey companies have told their people, “whatever value you are told, knock 20% off it”. Is this really scientific? Or demonstrating a true market value?
 
No it is not. This is skewing the market and bringing further increasing negativity to the economic prosperity of this country.
 
The whole reason for this is the protection and preservation of the surveyors Professional Indemnity policy. If a case does not complete, who is going to challenge the valuation in future because it won’t be subject to repossession?
 
And finally, if a case fails at valuation, what the hell! The surveyor’s been paid to do the job and that job will never cause them issues for their priceless PI cover.
 
Here endeth the rant – next week Surveyors and tweed jackets – what’s that all about?!
 
 

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