Client Facing Sectors Resume Physical Viewings and Valuations

The housing market has been open for a week and activity has been steadily increasing since the announcement that the sector was released from lockdown.

In the past week we have had governmental updates on how to safely complete the home moving process and cross-sector guidance on how to safely operate within current social distancing parameters.

Whilst all sectors were relieved that restrictions had been eased, the past week has been spent redesigning office space, creating safeguards for working in new conditions, updating working approaches, risk assessments, policies and ensuring that all work with clients is completed safely.

Since Monday, a number of surveying firms have announced their desire to offer physical valuations once again. On Monday May 18, the Just Group started physical valuations, highlighting new frameworks including the use of compulsory PPE and a assessment before employees enter a premises.

Yesterday, Co-op’s intermediary business Platform announced that physical valuations had resumed. The company also referenced the polarising sentiment of the British public and are continuing to offer desktop valuations where people are still impacted by Covid-19 or wish to remain cautious by avoiding contact with those outside of their household.

Estate agents are also taking the first tentative steps back by opening their office pace and resuming home viewings. Yesterday Countrywide announced they are beginning a ‘phased’ approach to re-opening their branches.

The large corporate agent, however felt the need to defend it’s position in the way it was opening it’s branches, when smaller agents seemed to be a lot quicker off the mark.

To defend it’s position, the organisation distributed a statement highlighting that their “priority has been, and will remain to keep our people safe and protect our customers.”

The statement also explained that the ‘phased’ approach was due to modifications and risk assessments being conducted to ensure branches and officers are ‘Covid-secure’.

With the news that physical valuations can now occur, it seems that the English property market is continuing to pick up where it left off.

Fred Sharp, head of intermediary business at Platform, said:

“We are glad to reintroduce physical valuations in line with the guidance from today (May 19). Our focus over the short term will be to work through applications that are currently on hold as quickly and safely as possible. We will complete valuations in date order with the oldest applications being looked at first.

“We encourage our broker partners to advise us of any material changes to their clients’ circumstances, especially if the client no longer wants to proceed with the mortgage application, this will enable us to focus on the applications that are progressing.

“The safety of our customers and valuers remains our number one priority and valuations will involve a detailed safety assessment. We understand that some customers will not feel comfortable letting a valuer into the property at this time, where this is the case we will attempt a desktop valuation or place the valuation on hold where this option is not possible.”

A statement from Just, commented:

“Our surveyors will be ensuring the safety of our customers when preparing to visit a property and will be provided with personal protection equipment (PPE). Surveyors are required to follow social distancing rules to ensure the mutual safety of our customers and the surveyors.

“When making the appointment with our customer an assessment will be carried to establish clear and safe inspection procedures. Just will work with our surveyor partner to commence the booking of appointments with customers waiting for physical inspections where it is safe to do so from Monday 18 May.”

Alan Cleary, managing director, OneSavings Bank said:

“Whilst it’s been an odd and unsettling time, I’ve been especially proud of the efforts that the OneSavings Bank team has made to ensure a level of business continuity for our intermediary partners during the lockdown period.

“Being agile enough to come out so quickly with a new 75% LTV offering is a great testimony to their dedication.

“A return to physical valuations is obviously a really positive step for the market and we know from our regular conversations with brokers that it was absolutely vital we were up and running as soon as these were possible.”

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