This is of course fantastic news and will help to kick start the mortgage market again.
It is also good news for many non-bank lenders whose funders insist on physical inspections, as it will enable those who could not, to lend once again.
In among the good news, there is a ‘but’ though. While it will get the market moving it may not be as soon or as quickly as we would all like.
There is a massive backlog of surveys in the system as well as lenders’ existing pipeline of borrowers to deal with.
Zoopla has reported that more than 370,000 house transactions could had been paused, while Mortgage Solutions interviewed a number of firms earlier in the week and estimated that the backlog could take at least two-months to clear.
As we have been in lockdown for more than seven weeks at the point of writing, this two-months could indeed prove to be an under-estimation.
It is very welcome news that surveyors can once again start to value properties, although some have already expressed wariness on entering houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) again.
Since the lockdown, lenders have been working through their pipeline of mortgage cases. While mortgages could still be underwritten, many could not reach completion due to the lack of a survey.
Landbay itself has many hundreds of surveys out with valuers waiting for them to be able to restart visiting properties. Multiply this many times over across the industry and it’s easy to see that there is a huge backlog waiting to be done.
Add to that the issue that not every surveyor will be back straight away. Our valuer population is typically in their fifties and many may still be self-isolating.
Others may be looking after children and be unable to leave the home and of course there is the question of accessing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
While some companies and surveyors will, of course, be very keen to get back to work, what it adds up to is that there is a significant backlog of properties to be valued and fewer people to value them.
It has to raise the question of: if you instruct a valuation tomorrow, just how long will it take until that property is valued?
How to deal with valuations is a challenge that the industry has wrestled with since the credit crunch when valuers were laid off in their droves; we have missed them ever since.
Technology has moved on a lot in that time – desktop valuations and automated valuation models (AVMs) have improved significantly.
The lockdown has had a dramatic impact on increasing their use, particularly by mainstream lenders, but we are still faced with the issue that these models are not suitable for every property and some lenders’ funders just will not allow them.
We are all very pleased to see our valuers back. They are the lynch pin around which so much of our industry relies and the drive to recruit more and younger surveyors has never been more vital than it is now.