Addressing post-pandemic surveying concerns

As an industry, it’s fair to say we have been fortunate in the fact that we have been able to operate at capacity for much of this time.

Addressing post-pandemic surveying concerns

Matthew Cumber is managing director of Countrywide Surveying Services

The challenges facing the mortgage market over the past 12 months have been well-documented from a number of angles.

As an industry, it’s fair to say we have been fortunate in the fact that we have been able to operate at capacity for much of this time.

Now it feels a little wrong to say this, especially in the wake of far bigger struggles being experienced across many markets, but these sustained levels of activity do create their own issues.

Let me reiterate that I’m certainly not complaining. Although I do feel that it’s important to address post-pandemic issues as they arise in our relevant sectors, and there is much to discuss.

The government-backed mortgage scheme aimed at helping first-time buyers or current homeowners to secure a mortgage with a 5% deposit is now up and running.

This is a highly positive initiative which has subsequently resulted in a growing number of lenders introducing, or extending, their product ranges to cover the 95% LTV band.

Inevitably, this will attract even more potential buyers into a market which is already experiencing high levels of demand.

This demand was highlighted through data from Mortgage Broker Tools (MBT) in early April which outlined that searches by brokers for 95% LTV mortgages had increased nearly eightfold since the start of the year. And these levels are only likely to continue rising.

Of course, increased activity across the housing market is great for business but a larger proportion of higher loan-to-value (LTV) lending means more physical valuations taking place and this will obviously have a knock-on effect from a capacity perspective for many surveying firms.

This is especially evident on the back of some smaller firms having to withdraw from the market, either completely due to increased PI premiums or through the fact that they are no longer taking on lender work and only undertaking private valuations (which is more profitable).

In addition, the industry has seen higher than expected levels of early retirement from vastly experienced surveyors and attracting new talent into the industry remains a pressing and challenging issue for many firms.

A combination which represents something of a double whammy. Here at Countrywide Surveying Services, we pride ourselves on the quality of our recruitment process but these things take time and don’t happen overnight.

When you also throw outstanding holiday entitlements (which have not been taken due to lockdown restrictions), lingering logistical problems around staggered returns to the office and split teams (some working from home and some in the office) into the mix, then it’s clear that COVID-related repercussions are not going away any time soon.

Meaning it’s important to remain open and honest about the challenges facing a variety of businesses operating across the housing and mortgage market.

And how working together and forging closer, more transparent relationships than ever will prove crucial in addressing any post-pandemic concerns moving forward.