Do valuation experts value technology?

Stephanie Bentley

Prop Tech Product Executive, Data and Information Products Group (RICS)

Valuation plays an important role in an increasingly sophisticated UAE property market. With stakeholders such as master developers, asset owners, banks and auditors all demanding the highest of reporting standards for the multi-billion dollar valuations they rely upon. We spoke to Declan King, Managing Director & Group Head Real Estate, Valustrat and RICS Tech Affiliate, to hear his views on how technology is impacting the role of a valuer.

Delivery times are increasingly a major consideration for many clients who require reports quickly, allowing them to move on with their own business.

Banks are a good case in point; in a highly competitive mortgage market they need to be able to make a loan decision as quickly as possible, with all the information available.

Despite all of this, the valuation process for residential mortgages has not changed in decades. Technology plays only a very small part in the delivery of a report, which ultimately still depends upon a valuer driving back to the office post inspection and taking out hand-written site notes before getting started on the reporting process. This is now beginning to change.

How is technology affecting valuations?

Many surveyors now record their field notes and photographs with tablets in order to upload the information to the office before they leave. Back at the office, integrated IT systems such as Valustrat’s ‘Speedy’ platform automatically generates the bank’s own valuation template with all site information & photos placed therein.

Analysts are then able to go to work compiling comparable transaction data, gathering market listings & agent’s opinions, and checking previous valuations in the same area.

Immersive client portals allow banks to request and receive multiple valuation reports via a private secure channel, with functionality such as mouse over maps, real time status updates, portfolio export to Excel and an instant library of all reports. Secondly, and probably most importantly, turnaround times for Red Book standard mortgage valuations on single residential units has been reduced to just seven hours or less from inspection.

Benefits to surveyors

In addition to the client benefits listed above, valuation surveyors and businesses adopting new technologies are also noticing tangible benefits.

Many surveyors now enjoy being assisted by technology, using a single instrument out on site to take geo-tagged field notes and photographs and arriving back at the office after inspections to find much of the procedural work already in motion – allowing them to focus more on their core skill of valuing.

With valuation expertise being put to better use, enabling meaningful savings on turnaround times for clients, has large benefits to businesses too.

What does this mean for the role of a surveyor going forward?

King emphasises the point that this does not mean that all valuation professionals are going to be replaced by AVM’s in future.

The valuer is central to the process.

Valuation professionals will review everything upon returning to the office and finalise the proposed market value amount. The report will then be fully peer reviewed and audit checked before it’s issued to the client.

Using technology such as automatic report generation and client portals to aid the valuation process offer numerous benefits to clients, surveyors and businesses at large.

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