Surveyors’ practices under fire

Ramesh Sharma

June 1, 2004

Jonathan Burridge, director of Quantum Mortgage Brokers, said he had recently experienced cases where the surveyor had either severely undervalued the property or advised the lender that the area the property is situated in was undesirable.

Burridge believes that in the latter instance the surveyor would have reasonably known the area and should have refused the instruction rather than taking the fee from the client.

Burridge said it seems unjust that lenders and brokers are accountable and yet for valuers acting for the lender there is no scope for recourse for the borrower.

He said: “Recently a client paid £575 for a remortgage valuation anticipated to be around £700,000 but the surveyor valued it at £450,000. Such an under-valuation is almost incompetent bearing in mind Halifax’s in-house indexation had put the figure at £675,000, based on probably the largest property values database in the UK, and the property is now being marketed at £695,000 by Foxtons.

“We also attempted to remortgage an admittedly undesirable flat in the Worlds End Estate. The surveyor advised Northern Rock that the area, not the specific property which he had very little comment on, was undesirable.

“Few lenders would take it as security and it would not fit their criteria. End result – the surveyor and Northern Rock made money and the client lost out. What exactly were the surveyor’s motives – to provide assistance to the lender or generate easy revenue?”

Burridge added: “It is not a question of us arguing the toss over a slight discrepancy. I expect if you scratched the surface there would be many other examples from other sources.”

But Richard Sexton, director, business development at e.surv, said: “We work hard to report accurate valuations but unfortunately this sometimes means we upset the broker and client who might have had aspirations of a different figure. This is coming to the fore more as the market is slowing down. I would suggest the broker probably knew about Worlds End Estate as well so why did he put the property forward?”

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