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Equity release lenders switch to remote valuations

Equity release lenders switch to remote valuations

Equity release lenders are changing their valuation processes as a result of restrictions on physical property valuations during the lockdown.

From today (April 29) Aviva will be offering remote valuations for certain initial loan applications and additional borrowing for its equity release products.

A spokesperson for Aviva said it would be communicating full details of the remote valuation process to advisers on the day.

Equity release provider OneFamily meanwhile is using surveyors with knowledge of an applicant’s area to carry out desktop valuations.

To allow for any limitations compared to a physical valuation, OneFamily will operate an adjusted credit policy, by keeping part of the agreed loan for release when the property value can be confirmed with a physical valuation.

Paul Bridgwater, head of lending proposition at OneFamily, said the lender wanted to enable applications for its lifetime mortgages despite current restrictions, and adjusted its processes so that customers can complete its lifetime mortgages “completely remotely.”

Provider More2Life is similarly using semi-automated valuations for most of its product range, combining the local knowledge of a RICS surveyor.

Canada Life has also moved to remote valuations for one of its product ranges, ‘Lifestyle Options’, while it works with its funding partners to reach a solution on its other ranges.

Remote valuations on its Lifestyle Options range are subject to a satisfactory on-site valuation within six months of completion, as well as temporary changes to Canada Life’s lending criteria.

These include a maximum property value of £1m in Greater London and £750,000 elsewhere, and listed properties are no longer accepted.

Meanwhile, Legal & General is offering desktop valuations on all of its lifetime mortgages. “These will be done by an independent valuer, using publicly available information to assess the value of clients’ homes,” added Claire Singleton, CEO of Legal & General Home Finance.

Stephen Lowe, group communications director at Just Group, also said his firm had adjusted its lending criteria so that it could carry out remote desktop valuations.

Other lenders that are offering desktop valuations while surveyors are unable to visit properties include Hodge, Pure Retirement and LV. 

Jim Boyd, CEO of the Equity Release Council, commented: “The equity release market remains open and is supported by careful measures for the safe provision of advice and valuations, with providers offering desktop valuations, to comply with social distancing guidelines.”

chloe.cheung@ft.com