Nationwide: Returning to physical valuations will not happen in the flick of a switch

Jessica Bird

May 12, 2020

Ian Andrew Nationwide Building Society

In the latest of Mortgage Introducer‘s series of webinars looking at the current and future state of the intermediary mortgage market, Ian Andrew (pictured), managing director, intermediary sales at Nationwide Building Society, said that a return to physical valuations may well be in the pipeline, but would not happen overnight. 

This follows Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement that some lockdown restrictions would be eased from Wednesday, and the government’s issuing of guidelines for workers entering others’ homes, which specifically mentioned surveyors among the target audience.

In response to an audience question regarding how soon surveyors might return to non-home working, Andrew said: “We’re edging closer.”

However, he also warned that the process would be slower than simply returning as soon as restrictions are eased.

Andrew said: “As a word of caution, I don’t think you can flick a switch and say you can carry every valuation out.

“Some customers are high risk, self-isolating, nervous about contracting COVID-19 and won’t value us trampling through the house.”

He added: “Just because we’re technically allowed to carry out evaluations doesn’t mean we’ll be able to do it on all occasions, so I still think a degree of patience is going to be required.”

In the meantime, valuations will for the most part continue to rely on the systems that have been put in place during lockdown.

However, there are many cases in which these systems cannot be used, and the return to physical valuations will be key to dealing with the rising backlog, once they can be undertaken safely.

Andrew said: “One of the things that [Nationwide] did quite quickly after lockdown was change the [automated valuation model (AVM)] and desktop model to allow us to carry out more valuations without physically visiting the property; that allowed us to move more cases through the system.

“But we have backlog of cases on pause. One of the reasons that we’ve moved our maximum [loan-to-value ratio (LTV)] down is to try and control that backlog and make sure we’re not adding to it.

“The secret to getting these cases moving is physical valuations being allowed again, and I certainly think we’re edging closer to it.”

Andrew also said that, despite the progress to this point being slow, Nationwide is already planning for the future.

“We’ve arranged additional capacity through our valuation partners in order to move through the backlog as quick as possible when physical valuations are allowed again.

“We have a plan and we will communicate it as soon as we fully understand the guidelines.”

Taking part in the same webinar, Alan Cleary, group managing director, mortgages, at OneSavings Bank, added: “The safety of the valuers and our customers is paramount.

“It will take time; however, there was some positive news at the weekend and in the briefing document that businesses received yesterday, so I do think we’re moving towards, in relatively short order, seeing some physical valuations return to the market.

“But again, it’s not going to be like flicking a switch, it’s going to take a bit of time.”

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