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Could virtual property viewings and valuations be the new normal?

LATEST NEWS | 20.05.2020

Could estate agents, mortgage lenders and the housing market as a whole be set for a permanent shift in the way they operate?

The coronavirus epidemic has changed the way many industries operate. The food and drink sector for example have shifted to click and collect and home deliveries to ensure their survival. Whilst millions of office workers have relocated to their living rooms and home offices.

So could estate agents, mortgage lenders and the housing market as a whole be set for a permanent shift in the way they operate?

Under plans revealed by This is Money, home sellers may be able to use smartphones, cameras or laptops to capture and share high-resolution photographs and video footage of their property with a chartered surveyor to complete valuations, and with their estate agents to conduct online viewings.

Lockdown protocol and social distancing measures have meant that valuations have not been able to take place and many mortgage lenders cautiously removed a lot of their products from the market. This left an estimated 373,000 home sales in the UK on pause with many struggling to sell.  

However, with lockdown still in force for the foreseeable future the housing market has had to pick back up again and virtual valuations and house tours may be one way forward.

SimplyBiz has developed a system that allows homeowners to give chartered surveyors a virtual tour of their home without breaching social distancing guidelines. Two mortgage lenders have already agreed to accept the virtual valuations believing the new approach delivers a more accurate and reliable outcome than so-called 'desktop valuations.’

For high value or more complex cases, a qualified local surveyor may also be asked to carry out a physical external inspection to value a property without running the risk of physical interaction with its owner.  

Matt Timmins, joint chief executive of SimplyBiz, said: 'Businesses are having to adapt at pace, and this will allow accurate and reliable property valuations while respecting social distancing guidelines and putting homeowners’ minds at rest. 

'New ways of thinking and harnessing technology are essential to revive activity and relieve the concerns of thousands of buyers and sellers who have seen property sales grind to a halt.'

Positive steps like this are what’s needed to ensure the security of the UK housing market and it's great to see the way technology can be used to overcome obstacles thrown up by the coronavirus pandemic. And with many lenders now putting their mortgage deals back on the market, we’re hopeful things will get back to normal sooner rather than later. It may just be a “new normal.”

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