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How surveyors value properties, the process explained – Harbour

by: David Harbour, chief surveyor at E.surv
  • 26/03/2018
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How surveyors value properties, the process explained – Harbour
Valuations and surveys can often provoke discussion and sometimes frustration among brokers and clients. David Harbour sheds some light on the process and results.

When our surveyors value a property, a physical inspection is usually a key part of the process. It is the most visible part of our work, but it would be wrong to assume that’s all there is to it.

Careful research, analysis and evaluation, conducted before and after physical inspection, are activities that go unseen, yet comprise the greater part of surveyors’ overall valuation activities.


Before physical valuation

Surveyors sometimes see a Purchase Price and Estimated Value (EV) listed when they receive an instruction, but very often there is no EV included.

Before a physical inspection is conducted, due diligence research is undertaken for lending purposes, and a check is made for any conflict of interest.

A surveyor will undertake extensive pre-inspection checks which include the following:

  • After a surveyor receives the address on an instruction, they examine local issues which may affect value, such as school catchment areas, proximity to transport links, surrounding property uses and flood prone areas;
  • Additional property information may be analysed, to meet the lender’s criteria needs, if supplied and requested by the lender. This could include property type, style, tenure, unexpired lease length, shared ownership and details of proposed alterations;
  • Our surveyors may make verbal enquiries with the occupier, selling agent or vendor before and after the inspection;
  • Online portals like Rightmove Plus, may be consulted to check the property’s digital footprint. This can display when the property was last sold, previous land registry transaction data, any recent planning applications and details of associated land, enabling surveyors to reflect on the physical attributes influencing the property’s value.


During physical valuation

Each surveyor covers a relatively small geographic area and so will have an in-depth understanding of local market conditions.

Within the M25, for example, our surveyors only visit properties within a specified five-mile radius, while outside of the M25 the radius is 25 miles.

Surveyors will typically assess:

  • Overall condition of the property, including any modernisation work;
  • Whether details of the declared property are accurate;
  • If the property is affected by external issues such as residing in a high-risk flood zone, or above a shop or restaurant;
  • Any structural issues and whether there are signs of damp, problems with the roof or any wiring issues.


After physical valuation

Following completion of an on-site inspection, surveyors will reflect on the information obtained. This is often the most time-consuming element of the valuation process and may entail further discussions with local selling agents to clarify any issues identified.

Once these issues are concluded, our surveyors combine their local market knowledge with other information that may be needed to support their valuation.

The outcome can result in a surveyor requiring further specialist reports before confirming their decision, especially if there are any structural problems.

Our surveyors also spend a considerable amount of time reviewing valuation data to ensure the valuation figure is supported by comparable evidence, that is evidence of the sale prices of similar properties in similar locations sold recently.

Adjustments are made for condition, location and other matters such as tenure before the surveyor considers the final valuation figure.

To conclude, research, analysis and evaluation conducted pre- and post-inspection, are critical elements of valuation and form the greater part of the valuation process.

Our surveyors’ careful planning and follow-up activities utilise their property risk and technical expertise, and when combined with their local market knowledge, ensure a robust process and reliable valuation.

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