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The future of standard valuations is automated: Countrywide’s Wareham


Conveyancing firm LMS recently said it had seen a surge in remortgage activity and that a fifth of all those remortgaging were doing so to gain a better rate.

To deal with this increased volume lenders, brokers and conveyancers alike want data that that can be processed quickly or is, as my colleagues increasingly put it, frictionless.

To deliver that, our digital team has created technology that quickly determines the risk factors involved in a valuation and whether it can be completed with the help of our automated valuation model or if the property needs a physical visit.

We believe that the future of the industry is to use AVM-based valuations to process both the purchase of ‘standard’ properties and remortgage decisions, a process that now takes a matter of minutes from the moment of instruction.

Physical visits are required for valuations of less standard properties, of course, though risk assessment technology helps here too.

This flags up to valuers any issues about a property that might later prompt a query from the conveyancer – such as potential flood risk – which they then include in their report, helping speed up the process by preventing hiccups later.

Speed is important for remortgage decisions. We find lenders are more likely to choose an AVM for these because the person involved is already living in the property, so the lender understands that the customers is normally less worried about the condition of their property.

But we have concerns about this kind of AVM-based approach for purchases. Too many homebuyers rely on the fact that a valuer has inspected the property and prepared a mortgage valuation. But how much do homebuyers really know about the condition of the property they are purchasing?

It’s important for transparency that they recognise the mortgage approval process may have been completed using a valuation that was not based on physical visit. We’re passionate about putting our customers at the heart of everything that we do and we want to ensure they have no nasty surprises when they open the door to their new home.

To that end, we will be launching a new platform that will provide our customers with access to professional advice all at the click of a button.

Paul Wareham is Countrywide managing director, surveying & conveyancing services


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