The latest Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) guidance recognises this situation and the body has suggested a form or words that can be used if a surveyor has concluded there is material uncertainty in the valuation of a property.
The wording confirms that, given the unprecedented nature of the pandemic, we can attach less weight to previous market evidence for comparison purposes and a higher degree of caution should be attached to valuations than would normally be the case.
Given the unknown future impact that Covid-19 might have on the real estate market, surveyors will also recommend that the value of a property is kept under frequent review.
At Arnold and Baldwin, we continue to carry out physical valuations of properties and we have introduced a set of guidelines for all our surveyors, including conducting checks before making bookings.
This is to confirm whether the property owners have been to any at-risk countries or if anyone has been in contact with someone contracted to coronavirus.
It is also important that our surveyors reassure customers that they are safe to enter a property.
We have encountered homeowners in self isolation and one contracted case of coronavirus. Our clients so far have been happy to postpone, rather than cancel.
The sentiment among our buyers remains strong, however I hear mixed views on new enquiries which are fluctuating.
Some say the phone is quiet, others are reporting those working from home are using the time to get their properties valued and catching up with paperwork before they head back to work in a few weeks’ time.
The underlying post–General Election pent up demand is still alive, it appears some are choosing to stay in isolation for a while.
If clients are nervous about revisiting a property in the current climate, virtual reality tours of properties are available, which involves a 360-degree experience and floor plans.
Desktop valuations for secured lending are also available for lenders if there is a period where we cannot undertake physical valuations.