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Mortgage market activity puts surveying under the spotlight

June 19th, 2013

Increased interest in the mortgaging sector over recent weeks is beginning to push surveying firms to vastly increase their timescales to complete property valuations. While the sharp rise seen in the purchasing side of the industry is mainly the cause for the recent issues, the root of the problem appears to stem from surveyors lacking the resources to cope with the business levels now being seen. Many of the UK’s largest firms have trimmed back staff since the onset of the financial crisis, due to a vastly reduced market.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the body responsible for administering accreditation for surveyors in the UK, states that at present 9000 qualified professionals work in the industry. It is not known how many surveyors were active before the financial crisis caused a wave of redundancies and closures, but the suggestion is that the figure was far higher. Added to this is the fact that lenders have reduced the amount paid to firms per instruction, which has made it financially less viable to train new staff to fill the gaps.

While most of the UK does not appear to be too disrupted, firms are warning that in London and the south-east the delays are likely to be substantial. Two of the largest UK firms, e.surv and Connells, are currently stating for the majority of the capital that they are not taking new instructions as of 19th June. Neither could provide any further updates when contacted, but the suggestion from lenders appears to be that receiving a survey inside 3 weeks from instruction is a positive result.

E.surv currently provides valuations for many of the UK’s largest lenders, with Virgin Money, Santander and Clydesdale amongst many others feeling the brunt of the delays. Another of the larger firms, Colleys, who are owned by Halifax, are currently still taking bookings and claim that a survey will be completed within 10 days from instruction.

Mark Devlin, head of survey and valuation services for Colleys, says: ““Across the market, we’re seeing an increase in application volumes. At present all appointments are being booked within seven to 10 working days. We are also in the process of increasing our panel members nationally in order to secure capacity in areas where seeing demand is outstripping supply.”

However, the experience of professionals within the market tells a different story. Simon Butler, of Contractor Mortgages Made Easy, said: “While trying to escalate an urgent valuation for a client in the W11 postcode, we were told that we could make the instruction, but the one surveyor Colleys had in that area was fully booked until the end June. After this, he is then away on holiday, so the nearest possible slot was likely to be the 15th July.”

Butler enquired as to whether Colleys were looking to out-source work to other surveyors to deal with demand, to which he was told “the firm would only instruct surveyors they trusted to complete the work. If the firm could not locate one in the area a valuation was required, the client would need to wait until the middle of July to see the valuation completed.”

A starker warning that the problem is likely to get worse before it gets better came from e.surv’s business development director, Richard Sexton. He said: “The hot spots are London and the South East. There is no point in denying there is a backlog and we have been flagging it for some time. What we need to do, as an industry, is to sit down with lenders and innovate. So whether we look at doing more drive-by surveys, for example, or if there are other ways about it. It is an in-built structural issue and it will get worse before it gets better, especially with the summer coming up.”

Article by: Jon Shields, Media Executive at Contractor Mortgages Made Easy

Media Contact: Raman Kaur, Public Relations Manager

Tel: 01489 555 080

Email: media@contractormortgagesuk.com

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