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Conspiracy theories on valuations persist

It feels like I write a version of this article every six months or so. Responding to the question posed by Coreco Group director Andrew Montlake around valuations in his Marketwatch column recently, I’m happy to confirm that the only pressure on valuers is to provide an accurate report and figure.

I’ve never found any evidence that a lender has asked a valuer to be harsh and difficult.If they don’t want to lend, why pay for a valuation just to interfere with it?

The source of rumours that valuers are being told to be as harsh as possible is as elusive as ever.Although invited, there was no further comment on this topic in the following issue of Mortgage Strategy, so perhaps this is less of a live issue than Montlake suspects.

Of more interest is the variance of the phenomenon over time and geography.In Q3 2008, 53% of estimates supplied with applications were above the actual value – this was an all-time high.

In Q4 2011, the same metric had fallen to 28% – an indication that reality is replacing hope in respect of values.

What fascinates me is why applicants are apparently more prone to overestimate in the North-West (LA postcodes, 46%)than in the South-East (UB postcodes, 16%). Conspiracy theorists will believe individuals are being encouraged to be unrealistic on application forms and it’s possible.

But a less exciting answer might just be the differing fortunes of local property markets.

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