Effective Communication In Property Valuation: Tips And Insights From The UK Market
Arriving at an accurate valuation is essential for anyone looking to buy, sell or remortgage a property in the UK. However, effective communication between valuers, agents and clients is equally important to ensure the process runs smoothly. With the frequent question “What’s the value of my house?”, there are certain approaches, insights and issues around communication that commonly arise during evaluations. This article will examine some key tips for enhancing communication between the parties involved in property valuations to achieve the most reliable and satisfactory outcomes. Core areas covered include managing client expectations, questions to ask valuers, handling differences of opinion and factors that can impact objectivity. The aim is to provide clients with strategies for maximising open communication channels when commissioning valuations.
Managing Vendor Expectations
One of the biggest communication challenges can be when sellers have an inflated view of their property’s likely valuation and market value. Some key tips for managing vendor expectations include:
- Explain the valuation is an impartial, professional judgement rather than an estate agent’s asking price.
- Encourage realistic expectations by looking at prices achieved for comparable local properties.
- Advise reviewing their initial valuation after 12 weeks if it is considerably above market valuations.
- Suggest testing their desired valuation across multiple independent surveyors.
- Communicate that overvaluing could mean considerable property sitting unsold.
By managing expectations sensitively yet firmly from the outset, potential disappointment or disagreement further down the line can be minimised.
Questions to Ask Valuers
When discussing a valuation with surveyors, key questions clients can ask include:
- What valuation approach are you using? (Open market, insurance, rental etc).
- How does my valuation compare with your valuations of similar properties lately?
- Are you able to provide a range or minimum/maximum values?
- What are the unique selling points you focused on for this particular property?
- What factors most negatively impacted the valuation you gave?
- In the local area, what evidence supports the valuation figure you have provided?
Asking open, non-adversarial questions helps clients better understand the methodology and market insights underpinning the figure provided.
Presenting Subjective Views
If clients disagree with aspects of a valuation or feel unique property features have been overlooked, it’s important they can communicate feedback effectively to the valuer. Some tips include:
- Remaining professional – Don’t convey anger or accusations. Stick to objective facts.
- Referring to examples – Highlight other valuations, offers or sales prices that contradict it.
- Suggesting an alternative figure – But support this with market evidence, not just personal attachment.
- Outlining special qualities – Politely argue why certain property aspects justify higher value.
- Checking presumptions – Ask what assumptions have been made e.g. on condition.
By communicating contrary views constructively, clients may gain some acknowledgement from valuers, rather than simply disputing the figure.
Handling Communication Breakdown
In some cases, a client may find their valuer hard to reach, slow to respond or unwilling to engage with queries around the valuation. Some tips to handle difficult communication include:
- Formal written complaint – Set out concerns requesting a prompt response.
- Face-to-face meeting – This can lead to more open and productive discussion than phone/email.
- Independent revaluation – Seek a “second opinion” from an alternative valuer.
- Ombudsman referral – Unresolved conduct complaints can be directed to relevant bodies.
- Service quality feedback – Constructive comments to the valuer’s firm can prompt improvements.
- Remain solution-focused – The aim should be reaching an understanding through open dialogue.
Factors Impacting Objectivity
While valuers aim to provide impartial judgements, some influences can inadvertently introduce subjectivity:
- Personal connections – Familiarity with clients may subconsciously result in generous valuations.
- Incentivised valuations – Some mortgage brokers offer introducer fees which could skew impartiality.
- Portfolio considerations – Surveyors may also advise buyers, creating a conflict of interest.
- Time pressures – Rushed valuations can lead to oversights, assumptions and inaccurate figures.
Effective communication involves both clients and valuers recognising issues impacting impartiality, and then introducing controls to address them.
Communication is the foundation of fair, accurate and mutually acceptable property valuations. From managing unrealistic expectations to providing constructive feedback, clients play an important role through their communication approach. Valuers must provide clear justifications, respond openly to concerns and acknowledge where influences may consciously or unconsciously affect their objectivity. While arriving at a figure can never be an exact science, by fostering effective communication centred on objectivity and transparency, valuations in the UK property market can deliver satisfactory outcomes for all involved.