Although the return to physical valuations has allowed applications to progress especially within the high loan to value (LTV) space, the industry’s quick adjustment to remote alternatives helped to move things along even quicker.
Dominik Lipnicki, owner of Your Mortgage Decisions, said: “Without a doubt, the increased use of desktop valuations has also sped up the process and I am sure that they are here to stay.
“With more clients working from home, valuers would have also found it easier to book the appointments in.”
John Philips, national operations director at Just Mortgages, acknowledged that while high LTV applicants were not benefitting from desktop valuations, it was good that lenders were accommodating alternative ways of valuing a property where they may have not before.
Best of a bad situation
A wait of one to three weeks was reported by brokers, and while that is longer than the pre-Covid wait of five working days many were relieved that applications were progressing.
Howard Reuben, owner of HD Consultants, said: “Typical wait time we have seen now is about 14 days, but over the last few months, where no valuations were being booked at all, even a 14 day wait seems a bonus at this time.”
Lipnicki added: “Many in the industry expected the valuation backlog to be significant and take months to get back to normal.
“I think that this view was overly pessimistic as most of the backlog is now gone and we are seeing valuations being booked a week or two away, which is close to pre-lockdown timescales.”
Other factors causing delays
As the reaction to the pandemic was so varied, Reuben said some of the initial backlog was actually a result of protective measures made by lenders.
“Most lenders proactively worked closely with their surveyor colleagues and implemented discretion and policy changes and others were led by them, and their own restrictive structures, which created a huge backlog,” he added.
Heightened caution towards health risks posed by the virus was also named as a factor for the longer waits with new valuation instructions, now that the backlog had been cleared.
Philips pointed out there was still a limited number of qualified valuers carrying out checks and they were having to do their job under different and more difficult conditions.
“The safety of all concerned is still the foremost consideration.
“Our experience is that valuations may still be taking a bit longer than normal, and it’s important to factor this in,” he said.
Akhil Mair, managing director of Our Mortgage Broker said he was seeing wait times of up to three weeks due to surveyors taking extra precautions and requesting letters be completed before an inspection takes place.
Valuers understandably want everyone involved in the process to adhere to Covid-19 requirements, Reuben added, and he said if there was any sign of a risk, there was an immediate delay of up to 14 days before another appointment would be arranged.
He said: “Either way, fundamentally it’s about communication with our clients and as long as they are told up front about the time frames, and kept up to date during the process, then the case is managed and all parties can move forward accordingly.”