If ever there was a stark reminder needed that the times we are still going through tough times, then the issues that face the Co-op have served as a sharp slap-in-the-face dose of reality. Whilst a rescue plan to tackle their, not insignificant, £1.5 billion hole does not involve tax payers it shows just how far there is still to go before we can all wear our “I lived through the credit crunch” T-shirts.
Although this may serve as a sobering base, confidence overall is still on the up. House price rises, mortgage activity increases and rates incredibly falling even lower have kept those of us who are more optimistic for the year as a whole smiling a little less nervously than last year.
In fact, as things have become busier it has given rise to certain service issues, especially within lenders who no longer have the staff available to cope with increasing numbers of transactions. The good news here however, is that most lenders are now working hard at trying to solve this, updating processes and employing greater numbers of staff which should hold them in good stead going into next year.
There is one issue to be aware of, however, that is more difficult to solve in a shorter space of time, especially as the market gets busier, which involve the people many either love or hate; valuers.
During the height of the credit crunch many valuers who were twiddling their thumbs were made redundant or took early retirement, especially as the average age of a valuer seems to be over 50.
This means that there is now a serious shortage of qualified valuers, which is beginning to cause service issues. So much so, that in some areas of London, especially in the KT and SW postcodes, we have seen instances of valuers not able to book in a survey for an incredible 3 weeks after instruction.
This of course can seriously derail an urgent purchase.
Whilst we have been able to pull in favours for the most urgent transactions, as lenders are generally tied to their own panels of valuer firms, this is yet another aspect that borrowers need to consider when choosing a lender and something agents and solicitors need to be aware of.
Of course the main issue is that there is no short fix for the problem as qualified valuers do not just appear overnight and young blood needs to be attracted into the industry. In fact, at least one company we know of has had to persuade a couple of 70 year old valuers to come out of retirement to assist with the growing demand.
I do know that this is an issue that has the attention of the very top-level in our industry, but it seems that for a while at least, delays in the valuation process may be here to stay.
Until this is all rectified, if you were considering a change or career or have kids wondering what to do with their life, you can do a lot worse than considering qualifying as a surveyor!