The not-for-profit Residential Property Surveyors Association wants estate agents to tell clients they should commission ‘real’ surveys and not settle for automated valuations.
Recently Nationwide said it may increasingly use automated valuations, while the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said it was revising its Home Buyer Report to exclude the valuation element and make it more obviously a survey-only service.
Now the RPSA chairman Alan Milstein is warning: “Buyers have often mistaken the lender’s valuation for a survey of the condition of the property they are about to buy. But with an increasing reliance on desktop valuations, it means that no one with a trained eye will be visiting the property, let alone assessing its condition.”
He claims this leaves consumers “at significant risk” and wants agents, lawyers and lenders to give buyers “clear advice about the need for a good quality survey by a trained, and preferably independent, specialist residential surveyor.”
Milstein warns agents that “ignoring this is ignoring their duty of care to their client.” He says: “We property professionals have a responsibility to ensure that our clients are fully informed about the buying decision they are making. Failure to do this is a dereliction of our duty and, in today’s world, is just not acceptable. Providing homebuyers with clear information about the need for an independent survey, at an early stage in the buying process, needs to be given the highest priority.”