The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has hit out at claims that a shortage of qualified surveyors has led to valuation backlogs in some parts of the country.
The trade body argues there are enough qualified valuers in the market but “unsustainable market conditions” have led to it “not being in the valuer’s interest to take work which is unprofitable”.
The main factors which have contributed to these conditions, RICS says, are “unsubstantiated” negligence claims from lenders, which have forced up professional indemnity insurance premiums, and falling valuation fees.
The trade body says there are currently 8,500 residential valuers registered, of which 5,500 list residential valuation as their primary activity, and around 2,000 of which work for the largest 20 firms in the UK.
RICS president Alan Collett says: “There are enough valuers out there to meet market demand, many working in small and regional practices. The problem isn’t one of capacity but the fact that the market in which they’re operating is wholly unsustainable.
“Insurance premiums have risen so considerably in recent years due to the sheer volume of unsubstantiated negligence claims against valuers. What’s more, the fees professionals receive per job are being squeezed and they simply are not willing to carry out the work where it is unprofitable. Clearly, there is a serious problem with the market but blaming a shortage of valuers is not addressing the real issue.”
The rebuttal comes at a time when many industry experts have warned that there could be huge delays in the home buying process due to a lack of qualified surveyors to deal with the pick-up in mortgage activity.
On 14 June, Money Marketing’s sister title Mortgage Strategy revealed the true extent of the problem after conducting a mystery shopping exercise, finding that in certain parts of London surveyors had temporarily stopped taking on business.
Even those that were still accepting business warned borrowers could face waits of up to five weeks to get a surveyor to conduct a valuation. Brokers say an acceptable waiting time for a completed valuation is around a week.
Posing as a borrower, Mortgage Strategy contacted three of the biggest surveyors – Colleys, e.surv and Connells – to ask how long it would take to get a homebuyer report and, separately, a less detailed valuation done on a property in SW15, with a mortgage from Halifax.
Connells and e.surv say they were currently “on hold” in SW15, meaning they are not accepting new instructions.
A customer service representative for Colleys said: “We are really busy in this area. We are booked up until the first week of July and then our surveyor is off for two weeks, so we are not available until the 22 July.”
While delays seem to be worst in London and the South East, brokers from around the country have contacted Mortgage Strategy complaining of valuation delays of anything up to five weeks.