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SimplyBiz to continue with contactless valuations

SimplyBiz to continue with contactless valuations

SimplyBiz is continuing to offer its members access to contactless property valuations despite lenders being given the go ahead to resume physical surveys last month.

Describing contactless valuations as a longer-term plan and “not just a Covid proposition”, Martin Reynolds, chief executive of SimplyBiz Mortgages, told FTAdviser the provider was talking to a number of lenders interested in the idea.

SimplyBiz introduced its contactless valuations offering last month ahead of the government's easing of the coronavirus lockdown.

The technology enables RICS-qualified surveyors to value properties without the need to be physically present in the property.

Homeowners are also 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 said at the time the technology would deliver a more accurate and reliable result compared to desktop valuations often used for lower LTV mortgages and standard properties.

Mr Reynolds told FTAdviser that while a digital transformation of the home buying process had been happening in many areas, valuations was one sector where change was happening at a slower pace.

He said: “If there’s a second wave, or the virus comes back next year, what happens if we haven’t carried on investing? Do we just stop doing valuations during that period?

“We can’t, as an industry, keep on having this stop-start process.”

Mortgage lenders had used automated valuation models or desktop surveys to value properties during the lockdown as physical valuations could not be carried out.

However, some mortgage advisers warned this practice had produced undervaluations.

But Mr Reynolds described contactless property valuations as the next best thing to physical valuations, which could help mitigate the challenges of automated and desktop valuations that brokers had raised.

Mr Reynolds said: “There’s room for desktop, there’s room for zero contact, there’s room for physical in different areas.

“But it’s just making sure that we don’t just return back to what we were doing three months ago.”

chloe.cheung@ft.com