The changing face of residential surveying

Dan Hughes

Director, Data and Information Product Management (RICS)

Residential surveying has experienced a rapid turnaround in the way that surveyors "at the coalface" are undertaking valuation instructions. This is the view of Ali Junkison of Landmark Valuation Services, who explains how the use of technology is changing from mobile technology to automated valuation models (AVMs).

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Mobile technology

Many surveyors are swapping their pen and paper for tablet devices, running mobile surveying appsto capture data whilst onsite. This digital end-to-end process removes the duplicated effort associated with manually typing up site notes into lender reports as well as reducing turnaround times by enabling surveyors to complete and sign-off instructions before they’ve even left the driveway of the property in question.

The end result is a far more streamlined process that reduces the risk of errors and post valuation queries by ensuring that the right information is captured for every valuation.

As wider adoption of mobile technology continues, it seems likely that the mortgage valuation process will become almost entirely paperless within the next couple of years.

Despite the reduced turnaround times seen with mobile surveying apps, 49% of people applying for a mortgage felt the process took too long.

Lenders are therefore already looking for ways to speed the process up and are increasingly recognising that not every valuation requires a physical survey. 

Big data and AVMs

This is where property big data, AVMs and Valuation Risk Modelling come in to play. By automatically assessing the risk parameters of every case upfront, including environmental and fraud risk data, lenders can avoid the need to complete onsite surveys where levels of risk are deemed to be low.

As technology evolves and datasets increase, it’s likely that desktop-based valuations will become more and more prevalent, helping lenders to meet their customers’ requirement for ever quicker mortgage decisions.

Where an onsite valuation is deemed necessary, it would make great sense to surface risks that have been identified on the surveyor’s tablet so they are then armed with highly relevant property, location and environmental information that can be utilised as part of the inspection.

This will ultimately improve the surveying process by proactively flagging potential concerns, risk of flooding or ground instability for example, which the surveyor can note in the valuation. Homebuyers can then ensure they work with their legal professional to delve into any warnings that were flagged, providing them with the insight they need to make an informed decision.

What’s next?

So, where else could technological innovations take us in future? There is already talk about how drones could be used to capture exterior photos of properties and whether virtual reality (VR) could play a part in the survey and valuation field.

There is much speculation at this stage as the technology is still in its relative commercial infancy. However, given the big advances that are being made with VR and its increasing use by estate agents for property viewings, it is quite possible that we will see a day when surveyors will be surveying properties virtually — it would certainly be a real game changer.

Comments (1)

  1. The Rise Of The Machines = the decline of the carefully considered, researched, thoroughly professional valuation assessment, taking into account the real factors of an individual property. Think of a number ERNIE.

    Colin Lumsdaine Colin Lumsdaine, 25 April at 19:23PM

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