Some valuations are being re-booked for three weeks from now, Mortgage Solutions understands, but Halifax and NatWest looking at ways to expand their use of desktop valuations.
Santander has become the latest lender to put a hold on physical property inspections for valuations until further notice, a note on its website reported.
The lender noted that following the latest government advice, its valuation partners are no longer able to inspect properties.
Agents and property owners are being contacted by valuers about the situation and Santander said it plans to send message updates to brokers where their clients’ cases are affected.
“It’s important to note that our valuation partners are not cancelling instructions, but simply placing valuations on hold until further notice,” the lender said.
“Please note where we can validate the property value without needing to enter the property, this will continue as normal.”
In a message on its website, Pepper Money said it was halting physical valuations for at least the next three weeks and that it was unable to accept automated, desktop or drive by valuations.
It has already started calling customers to cancel their valuations and they will have the choice of refunding their fees and cancelling the application, or waiting for it to proceed.
“We are keen to support our customers through this uncertain time and propose to communicate with all brokers who have affected cases,” the lender said.
“Customers will have the choice of either receiving a refund of their fees if they no longer wish to proceed with their application, or instructing Pepper Money to continue with the application, accepting that the physical valuation will not be carried out for at least the next three weeks at which point we propose to review and contact the customer again.”
Working with government
Trade body UK Finance acknowledged it was a challenging situation but lenders needed to make their own decisions.
A UK Finance spokesperson said: “The mortgage industry is focused on supporting those customers most adversely affected by Covid-19, including through measures such as a mortgage payment holiday of up to three months and the suspension of possessions.
“As such, firms are having to deploy their resources to meet this unprecedented demand, while also dealing with the impact of Covid-19 on the wellbeing of their own employees who are working tirelessly during these challenging times.
“The fully understandable restrictions on movement and work practices mean there are broader implications for the housing and mortgage market, as the government has acknowledged.
“UK Finance is working with lenders, the government and regulators to find practical solutions to support the mortgage market, but each firm will make its own decisions based on its resources and business model.”
Halifax said its teams will contact property owners and estate agents to tell them instructions will be put on hold while the situation is reviewed. The bank will then arrange to re-book the survey.
A remote, or desktop valuation, will be used for existing and new applications instead of an internal survey if it is possible. Brokers do not need to contact Halifax to arrange this.
Mortgage Solutions understand this policy applies to all the Lloyds Banking Group brands.
NatWest has announced a similar arrangement. It is working on a range of alternative valuation solutions while the social distancing measures are in place.
It said this would mainly involve the expansion of its desktop valuation process.
Applications that need a physical valuation will be put on hold from today.
NatWest said all applications relating to the following property or case type will not progress beyond valuation at the moment, because of the current market challenges;
- Buy-to-let, new build, flats, any property in Northern Ireland and any property valued over £3m,
- Properties valued between £50,000 and £999,999 over 80 per cent loan to value (LTV),
- between £1,000,000 and £1,499,999 over 65 per cent LTV,
- between £1,500,000 and £1,999,999 over 55 per cent LTV,
- and properties between £2,000,000 and £2,999,999 over 50 per cent LTV.
Those cases will be given an extended period of time before the valuation can be carried out, while the bank looks for a solution.
NatWest has said it will announce further changes in the coming days to support those borrowers affected.
Foundation Home Loans has also stopped physical valuations and is not currently accepting automated valuations, desktop or drive-by valuations.
It is investigating alternatives, but will be unable to instruct new valuations until further notice.