Letting Agents Sheffield

Property valuation is often overlooked as one of the key pillars of the property sector. In many respects, this is not surprising; assessing the value of a property can, to the untrained eye, seem like a straightforward process. The reality is very different!

Over recent years, buyers and sellers have become able to receive a valuation of a property by inputting details into one of the online property sites. While useful, these platforms are by no means accurate. Sales comparisons, income capitalisation, land value and building costs can be assessed as part of a valuation.

It’s worth noting for many years mortgage valuations instructed by lenders for re-mortgages or purchases have been conducted on a “drive by basis” or by desktop survey which means that in these times of restricted movement, these shouldn’t be unduly affected. However we’ve seen mortgage lenders are even slower than usual during the Lockdown period with staff working from home and a surge in demand as the property market stays resilient in these uncertain times.

This is the reason qualifications through bodies such as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) are important for professional valuers – this is more relevant than ever in 2020, given the way COVID-19 has impacted things, in particular, the art of giving an accurate property valuation.

Turning to online solutions

As with almost every industry, the property sector has seen an increase in digital options this year. Between April and May 2020, Zoopla recorded a 90% rise in the number of virtual property valuations completed by agents. The idea of a valuation being undertaken via a video platform is appealing as the owner can give a real-time tour of the property, and this virtual inspection can be added to by additional research by the valuer.

Virtual valuations have been vital in keeping the property market ticking along throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Houses and flats could be listed, mortgages could be issued, and transactions could be completed despite the challenges posed by social distancing; without virtual valuations, this would not have been possible, at least during the stricter lockdown periods.

Convenience over standards?

Necessity may have forced us to take the change, but whether virtual valuations become part of the ‘new normal’ comes down to how reliable they are. The key is whether video calls can provide the same high level of service as a physical meeting.

It goes without saying that viewing a property virtually is likely to be hindered by things such as poor camera angles, video quality or lighting which might result in potential issues being overlooked. There is also the risk of the camera operator avoiding parts of the property they do not want the valuer to see.

However, we should not forget that much of the valuation process remains accessible regardless of the virtual tour of the property. From the square footage through to comparisons and market trend analysis, a surveyor gets much of what they need from these figures, which they can still access remotely.

Virtual options are definitely a viable option, and as demonstrated in recent months, a creative solution when faced with social distancing measures that prevent access to a property.

Buyer demands are changing

Just as COVID-19 has changed the valuation process, it has also changed our general attitude to property. And the sudden rise of remote working has been a key factor in this.

Millions of us have been working from home as a consequence of the pandemic and with strict social distancing measures being in place it has meant that people are spending more time at home when not working – these experiences are changing what people are looking for in a property and this has affected property valuations too.

More people are now adding things to their “non-negotiable” list such as a spare room to use as a home office, followed by garden, roof terrace or balcony. These changing preferences are likely to continue, so it is up to property valuers to become a social observer, able to delve into the market to understand just what people are after. Doing so will ensure a house, flat or commercial site can be given an accurate value.

Only people skilled in the aspects of valuing property will be able to adapt and stay on top of the developments, providing accurate valuations while also taking full advantage of newer digital tools.

Chris Browne, our Director comments that “We are very proud to say that Covid-19 has not affected our business detrimentally, we have been able to adapt our way of working to continue our levels of service, while most importantly, keeping everyone safe. Our primary concern is the safety of our staff, the contractors we employ and our tenants.”

At Horizon Lets we work remotely and are able to do your valuations in the same way. Please contact us on hello@horizonlets.com if you have a property you need valuing – we are more than happy to help and do so responsibly in these uncertain times.


Related Articles


The Horizon Group