SimplyBiz has introduced contactless valuations in a bid to help restart the property market under social distancing measures.
The provider has signed Mansfield Building Society as its first lender partner to offer contactless surveying, and is working with Nottingham Building Society to explore its potential use.
Mansfield Building Society is offering contactless valuations on purchase and remortgage applications at an increased loan-to-value of 75 per cent for residential mortgages, and 70 per cent for buy-to-let.
The building society said applicants can still choose a standard valuation if they prefer to wait for a physical inspection.
Dave Newby, mortgage executive at Mansfield Building Society said the contactless valuations gave the lender a “level of confidence in terms of risk” that meant it could increase the LTVs it offers to customers and brokers.
David Marlow, chief executive of Nottingham Building Society also said contactless valuations could support the society to process more mortgage applications than it could at present.
The new products by SimplyBiz will enable RICS-qualified surveyors to value properties while social distancing, and without the need to be physically present in the property.
Homeowners will be able to use smartphones, cameras or laptops to capture and share high-resolution photographs or video footage of their property with a chartered surveyor, or take them on a virtual inspection via video call.
SimplyBiz says that this use of technology will deliver a more accurate and reliable result compared to desktop valuations often used for lower LTV mortgages and standard properties.
It has committed to make the operating model for contactless valuations available to other surveying companies, to support the wider recovery of the property market.
Matt Timmins, joint chief executive of SimplyBiz said: “By innovating in the short-term, these products also offer a long-term solution for forward-thinking surveyors and lenders to help make property transactions a more efficient, user-friendly and environmentally-friendly experience.”
Chris Sykes, mortgage consultant at Private Finance, said: “Hundreds of thousands of mortgage applications have been placed on hold due to Covid-19, many of these due to valuation delays which will have impacted remortgages as well as purchases.
“Many homeowners may now be stuck on lenders’ standard variable rates, paying a high level of interest on their existing loan.
“We welcome any innovations in this area and hope the wider surveying community will follow this example to make best use of technology and work with lenders to start getting valuations moving again. These property transactions will play a key part in restarting the economy.”
Earlier this week a group of industry representatives wrote to the secretary of state for Housing, Communities and Local Government with proposals on how the government can initiate a speedy recovery of the housing market.