Comment: Too smart for our own good


An AVM or desktop valuation will not identify whether a property has any significant issues affecting its value

Shorter attention spans may have resulted already in many Christmas gadgets finding their way into the backs of cupboards up and down the country.

Some neighbours with thinner walls also will have become accustomed to the barking of orders at voice-activated chatbots.

And while there will be people who have yet to work out how to best utilise these gadgets – in other words, for more than just the weather forecast – inevitably there will be others who are already seeking out the next big tech thing.

So what is the next big thing?

Artificial intelligence may still smack of sci-fi for some but advances in this type of technology are generating significant amounts of consumer interest. They are also helping to shape the future of financial services.

‘Smart’ technology is evolving at a rapid pace. It is influencing the ways in which we gather, analyse and interpret a raft of data.

While it is fair to say that the valuation and surveying industry has been relatively slow in embracing such innovation, it is now catching up.

With lenders rapidly evolving their systems to incorporate this technology, it is vital that surveying firms have the processes and flexibility to seamlessly integrate their support offerings.

Of course, there is a balancing act to maintain. Despite lenders being in a stronger position to assess property risk in far more detail than ever, an AVM or desktop valuation will not identify whether a property has any significant issues affecting its value. Nor will it outline the potential costs of underlying work.

This fact alone emphasises the value attached to the skills, training and knowledge of valuers and surveyors.

As such, their physical presence, as opposed to a virtual one, remains a crucial component both within the industry and for homebuyers.

Looking forward, 2017 is all about working more smartly and efficiently than ever. However, as much as we must continue to embrace change, it is also prudent to remember that the next big tech thing may not necessarily be the right fit for everyone.

So let’s not be too smart for our own good, and let’s ensure that we don’t ignore the experience behind the technology.

To match the needs of a variety of homebuyers, the right solutions should incorporate the best of both worlds.

Paul Wareham is managing director, surveying & conveyancing services, at Countrywide