We must educate buyers: A valuation is not a survey

Kim Bailey

PR & Communications Manager (North) (RICS)

More needs to be done to educate buyers that a valuation is not a home buyers survey, and the industry needs more home surveyors and valuers. These were key issues raised at a recent Residential Question Time Debate, held at the iconic Haydock Racecourse in the heart of the North West.

Resi Question Time

With an aging and largely male membership, owner of Michael Holden Chartered Surveyors, Michael Holden FRICS kick-started the discussion by asking what RICS is doing to address the growing skills gap, especially as the traditional degree route into the profession is no longer feasible for many.

RICS is championing other routes into the profession, a Surveying Technician Apprenticeship with an endpoint assessment of AssocRICS has been developed with employers. This is proven to be an exciting new pathway to attract a broader range of diversity in to the profession who can earn and learn whilst becoming qualified.

Panellist, Hilary Grayson MRICS, Head of Surveying Services at the SAVA School of Surveying  also informed delegates about the SAVA Diploma in Residential Surveying and Valuation which provides direct entry to AssocRICS, for those with two years’ relevant experience. Tutored and supported by RICS professionals, the diploma is aimed at candidates seeking a new career in residential surveying.

A valuation is not a survey

Several delegates highlighted a continued need to raise awareness among homebuyers that a mortgage valuation — carried out in the interest of the lender — is not a survey.

The younger generation of buyers is particularly naive in relying on a mortgage valuation when buying a property; this isn’t enough and won’t help uncover any potential faults or defects.

Meanwhile, Partner and Director of Conveyancing at Keoghs Solicitors Tom Bridge said that he sees many clients, particularly cash buyers, turn down the option of a survey for fear it will slow the buying process down. Despite this, a straw poll in the room indicated that most delegates were experiencing increased enquiries for survey services, leading to more instructions.

Document everything

Chair of the event, RICS Associate Director Residential Graham Ellis, highlighted that a consequence of increasing survey workloads is potentially more exposure to client complaints. Technical Expert at the Ombudsman Services Nicolette Granite explained that surveyors need to provide a survey service to clients (in accordance with agreed terms and conditions) with a clear report that includes photographic evidence where needed.

Often, when we receive a complaint about a survey, the surveyor has relied on ‘standard template phrases’ and hasn’t provided sufficient evidence, such as photos or site visit notes, to show that they have thoroughly investigated any potential problems.

Picking up on this issue, Operations Director at eTech Solutions Ltd Luke Shaw spoke about the benefit and growing demand from surveyors for using home survey software via an iPad to document a home survey and to gather and keep all relevant information in one place. Another straw poll indicated that most delegates are now using this technology and it was working well for them.

Improve the buying & selling experience

Throughout the afternoon, a recurring theme was that the residential sector is too fragmented and needs to work together better to improve the buying and selling process.

The panel discussed the need for sellers to provide detailed information about their property up front to give buyers more assurance and certainty, and in some cases, avoid having to pay costly legal and survey fees up front. As a member of its management committee, panellist Tom Bridge spoke about the Conveyancing Association’s recent call on the Government to create a "log book" and "home report" for each property on sale, reminiscent in principle to the ill-fated Home Information Packs (HIPs), which the panel agreed could have worked had the initiative been implemented properly.

In discussing this, the panel unanimously agreed that HIPs would most likely not be re-introduced following the recent election, but highlighted there that there is a great opportunity for RICS and home surveyors to adapt and thrive by nurturing opportunities now manifesting themselves.

About the panel

The panel consisted of:

  • Graham Ellis MRICS, RICS Associate Director Residential (Chair)
  • John Brownlow MRICS, Director at Edward Genesis Chartered Surveyors
  • Thomas Bridge, Partner and Director of Conveyancing at Keoughs
  • Chris Cockwill MRICS, Managing Director at Cockwill & Co
  • Marion Ellis MRICS, Head of Customer Experience at Countrywide
  • Nicolette Granite, Technical Expert at the Ombudsman Services
  • Hilary Grayson MRICS, Head of Surveying Services at SAVA
  • Luke Shaw, Operations Manager at eTech Solutions Limited
  • Alison Williams MRICS, Head of Quality Assurance at Legal & General Surveying Services

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