20 Jun 2018

By Mark Blackwell, Chief Operating Officer at eTech Solutions Limited


Over recent years we’ve seen our industry embrace technology as brokers, surveyors and lenders reap the benefits of the efficiency savings afforded by digital solutions and increased collaboration around data sharing.


Digital mortgage advice and information now has a bedfellow in digital property survey information. This online revolution has extended to consumer facing survey reports with homebuyers hungry for information about their chosen property.


Digital reporting


Whilst such a report isn’t mandatory, surveyors are there to provide guidance before committing to what for most is the biggest financial outlay homeowners are ever likely to make. With electronic distribution of documentation now the norm for most consumers, the ability to obtain this type of report in an online format is key; homebuyers expect to access such information quickly and easily, with the option for electronic filing for future reference, and paper-based reports can no longer be considered a viable proposition in an increasingly competitive market. Looking beyond the experience of the homebuyer, the need for digital reports that improve the consumer experience is evident as the whole mortgage journey moves to a less paper-based approach, and the various components of the process have the same look and feel.


Consumer services


Being the main point of sale for the consumer, the mortgage intermediary has an important role to play here. Consumers often don’t get to see the output of a mortgage valuation report and brokers are uniquely placed to advise on how best to gain access to the right information about a given property. Once the decision to obtain an RICS HomeBuyer Report or other reports such as Homescore has been made, brokers will be looking to those surveyors who are capable of providing this service and creating an instruction through an online portal. Technically savvy surveying firms who allow brokers to create their customer’s instruction through the appropriate mortgage valuation software allow the homebuyer to commence their digital journey at the very start of the process, enabling them to see a progressive industry striving to provide the very best in consumer facing property information.


For surveyors whose world has already been dramatically streamlined with the adoption of new reporting and instruction management technology, the additional capacity they’ve been afforded through increasing numbers of AVMs and remote valuations allows them to pick up extra work such as Homebuyers’ Reports. As our market is led more by data and technology in surveying, it is inevitable that the physical mortgage valuation will come under pressure. It’s therefore encouraging to see the surveying world respond through offering more consumer facing report services. In a competitive market, redeploying valuable resource in this way is a prudent way for surveyors to retain their edge and ensure they continue to receive a healthy flow of instructions from their broker partners. Similarly, panel managers overseeing a wider resource of surveying capacity will be looking for ways to maintain productivity where mobile technology is already freeing up the time spent on mortgage valuations.


Delivering efficiencies


A Survey Report carried out electronically and delivered online to the consumer has some immediate obvious benefits over the more traditional paper-based survey. In addition to doing away with the old problems of legibility and delays in delivery, online reports allow everyone in the supply chain to have enhanced confidence in the content of the report itself. We know already that automation of tasks previously carried out manually allows a surveyor to spend more time assessing the quality and condition of a given property and less time considering the filling out of a paper form. Features like dynamic job overview screens, map route functionality suggesting best routes for each job, floor plan tools and electronic capture of photographic evidence allow further efficiencies for surveyors. Inbuilt access to comparable data means it’s no longer necessary for surveyors to spend time off-site referencing such data sources, and on completion of a survey, finished reports can be conveniently mapped into a RICS HomeBuyer Report type format.


Further benefits to the wider industry are testament to the fact these reports are so much more reliable than their paper-based predecessors. In the world of mortgage valuation production we see a drop in post-valuation queries, an uplift in audit quality and increased professionalism in report quality. Aspects such as digital site notes and reports collation contribute to improving industry standards. When needed this digital data robustly supports the defence of claims for the surveyor, as well as meeting consumer demand and strengthening broker – homebuyer relationships.


Leading the way


Mortgage intermediaries know that consumer-facing survey reports like the HomeBuyer and Homescore reports are an important feature of the consumer homebuying process. Anecdotally, consumers often rely on too little information about the property they’re buying and can benefit hugely from having access to the detail afforded by such data. Intermediaries who are already enjoying ease of instruction to valuation distributors through broker portals, are leading the way in providing these additional services for their clients. eTech are excited about providing these services to surveyors, brokers and consumers directly and indirectly. Automated valuations are not shrinking off the workload of the surveyor but opening the door to more sophisticated survey reporting and more meaningful services directly to clients.

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