Surveyors Demand Suspension Of Transactions

The surveying community is the latest sector urging the government to suspend housing transactions until government restrictions are lifted.

Surveyors are calling on the government to provide clarity on their situation after recent grants and advice have left them vulnerable both financially and the outbreak.

In a letter to the government, the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA) has accused the government of releasing a ‘double whammy’ of measures and advice which will cause them and their business harm.

They claim that ‘the only sensible option is for Government to pause the progress of property transactions until Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted, and for tailored support packages to be put in place for Independent surveyors and other professionals in a similar plight.’

Firstly, the self-employment financial aid announced recently to help those earning less than £50,000 is said to exclude many within the sector who are about to see their earnings completely dry up over the next financial quarter. The RPSA argue that the imminent restriction on housing transactions will mean the government need to consider those within the sector and offer packages to help ease the burden caused by governmental measures imposed to stem the flow of the coronavirus.

Secondly, the letter sent to both the Chancellor, Risi Sunak, and Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick, has suggested that ambiguous and contradictory advice will put surveyors in danger of contracting the virus.

The government’s ‘advice on home moving during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak’ states that ‘Surveyors should not expect to carry out non-urgent surveys in homes where people are in residence, and no inspections should take place if any person in the property is showing symptoms, self-isolating or being shielded.’

However, guidance also says that it ‘may be possible to carry out some of your work online and also carry out urgent surveys on empty properties, or those where the occupants are out of the property or following guidance to stay at home and away from others.’

The RPSA believes this guidance places surveyors at risk. It questions how a surveyor can confidently ascertain how long a property has been empty and how they can guarantee someone with the virus has not been in the property prior to their survey work taking place.

Lenders have also echoed this sentiment, claiming that it is difficult to offer home finance and mortgages when physical surveys are reducing or cannot take place.

RPSA Chairman, Alan Milstein, commented:

“Like tens of thousands of one-man band businesses, many surveyors operate limited companies and receive a combination of salary and dividends, an arrangement excluded from the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme announced by Downing Street yesterday.

“And, as most don’t pay business rates, they are denied grants or funding announced under the earlier support for businesses package. As small businesses the option to furlough themselves simply doesn’t exist. There are always administrative and maintenance tasks to be done.

“RPSA members are left completely outside any of the support schemes announced so far.

“Worse still, despite clear messages only to go out when absolutely necessary, Government Advice for home moving specifically highlights that urgent surveys can be carried out by surveyors, on empty properties or where the occupants are out and free of coronavirus. However, the Advice also suggests that going into occupied homes to carry out surveys can still be considered safe. So, which advice do surveyors follow? And how would one of our members reliably determine if a house has been recently occupied by an infected person?

“When Boris Johnson told us that Government would put their arms around all workers, we assumed that would include small surveyor businesses. But it seems not. Many of us have been left out of financial support, and are almost being encouraged to put ourselves in harm’s way. Our members deserve better than this.”

Should the government listen to the call from lenders and surveyors to suspend all property market activity until restrictions are lifted? 


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    No surveyors can do online valuations .technology has come a long way.if estate agents can sell via online tours why cant surveyors do valuations with photos or video tours.why do surveyors need to be physically present unless they want a structural survey .by not doing valuations the whole market will be devastated and peoples lives disrupted more than they already are.if nurses and doctors are out there surveyors can do the least and do online valuations.stop being such winces

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      Lenders are generally not instructing valuations at the moment, online or otherwise and so there simply isn’t the work for them.
      Think before leaving such puerile remarks during such a difficult time.

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      In 1998 the Land Registry’s Quinquennial Review suggested that it should record the internal area of homes so that valuations could be carried out without the need for surveyors

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      Whilst it is possible to carry out a valuation without visiting a property, the article refers specifically to surveys which are impossible to do without a physical inspection.

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    It is a shame that the first comments on this are clearly from people who aren’t surveyors. The article explains why it is unsafe to carry out surveys. A valuation is not a survey, so nobody is arguing that desktop valuations cannot be done.
    However, every responsible organisation including the Consumers Association and the Council of Mortgage Lenders advise purchasers to have a survey (not a valuation) done before exchanging contracts. That advice hasn’t changed. So that is the problem. Buyers should get a Survey done but it is not currently safe to do most surveys.

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    I’m staggered that in an industry that has failed to adapt and change in 150yrs we are still failing to see the opportunities available to us to implement change.
    Over the last 4 years time to completion has risen from 12 weeks to 18 weeks (not counting COVID-19). The failure rate of completions caused by this has risen from 20% to 40% too, this is a direct affect of the time it takes.

    Why cant valuations be done at the end prior to completion? why cant we change the way in which certain parts of the chain are undertaken and move them around?

    We are giving agents and mortgage advisors the chance to order searches when an offer is accepted, why do i have to wait for a solicitor to order them 8 weeks later after the mortgage offer has arrived?
    My agents are ordering 4K virtual tours from me too, a complete walk through at a definition better than most peoples TV’s, what else is needed when we should be looking towards the Automated Valuation Model and why cant valuations be undertaken via video as long as the Estate Agent uses an agreed and accepted way of videoing the property?
    Why does a buyer have to order 3 x ID checks?
    Why do solicitors still post out documents and updates and not use WhatsApp for quick updates to all parties.

    So many ‘why’s’ and not so many ‘hows?’

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    Zahoor is clearly an expert, so perhaps he can tell surveyors and valuers how they should provide a Market Valuation (assuming he knows what that is) when *the market* has effectively been suspended? We are all ears, awaiting the wise words of he who knows it all.. Hopefully his advice will be better than his grammar and punctuation.

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