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Comment: Valuing the wheel of progress

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AVMs have evolved to support lenders’ digital channels, improve the customer experience and cut time to completion

The quest for successful automation is nothing new. The fact that self-driving cars are no longer limited to the science-fiction genre helps illustrate how far technology has advanced in recent times.

The mortgage market has not always had a reputation as the most tech savvy of sectors but one ‘early’ representative has stood the test of time. Automated valuation models were first integrated into the UK mortgage market over a decade ago. And it is fair to say that, despite initial trepidation and teething troubles, they have become an important component within the lending cycle.

AVMs were introduced as a pure calculator of property valuations using a statistical model borne from a wealth of available data. Their main remit has not changed. Accurate and cost-effective valuations will always be driven by the quality of data and astute analysis of this information.

However, advances in smart technology have pushed these boundaries to provide even greater speed and efficiency through a variety of media – and all while maintaining responsible levels of risk management and keeping up with shifting regulatory demands.

As such, AVMs have evolved to support lenders’ digital channels, improve the customer experience and reduce time to completion, which in turn enables surveyors to focus on more complex cases.

As with many good back-office components, AVMs deliver without much of a fanfare. Like the potential of the driverless car, the successful integration of technology should be based on providing security, reliability, confidence and accuracy, all at the right speed.

Upon development and implementation of AVMs, it is vital that lenders keep their hands firmly on the steering wheel throughout the journey. And remember: it is the customer who remains the real driving force.

Tony Fullbrook is head of mortgage purchases at Barclays Mortgages

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