To paraphrase the former resident of Stratford-upon-Avon, that is the question. With reports in the media of surges in house prices, a housing shortage, interest rate rises and the real decider on this morning’s news-that One Direction are taking an indefinite hiatus-it is worth looking at who/what are the real power brokers and game-changers in the house selling industry. Yes of course the tsunami in the Square Mile and the global exchanges impacts upon everyone and the ripples are felt in the comparative duck ponds of Cwmbran, but who actually decides whether the first time buyer gets the house in Fochriw?
As agents we have fought to gain the instruction (I still bear the nail marks from one of my fellow agents-he really should go for a fortnightly manicure), complied with all the necessary regulations governing vendor and property details, negotiated a sale with someone on day release, instructed solicitors and ensured that the mortgage application forms have been correctly completed. Then the fun really begins; a phone call from a firm of chartered surveyors who need access for the mortgage valuation. This is met with one of two possible responses: “No problem, they are a reasonable bunch”, or “Here we go again…”. Only last week a surveyor called to collect a set of keys and we supplied him with enough comparable date to choke a decent sized donkey. History has taught me not to have the insolence and temerity to ask whether everything was ‘ok’ so I awaited the valuation report. He had down valued the property by £1000. Yes, one thousand whole English pounds. £10,000 or even £5,000 I understand, but £1000? What is the point? When I asked what was his rationale and how he came to this conclusion, I was told, “Because that’s what I think and I can put it in my report”. Well that told me. There is nothing that we can do as agents. In the old days-when I had hair and Kelly Maloney was still Frank-one could appeal and in fairness to the system, one could nearly always resolve the matter. Not anymore. In this statistically driven era that we inhabit, points mean prizes. If a certain percentage of a surveyor’s valuations are successfully appealed, then this effects their professional indemnity. If they have already used up their appeal quota-no matter how solid your grounds for appealing-you have as much chance or reversing the original decision as Sunderland have of winning the Premiership.
Forget Shakespeare’s Globe and cast your mind back to the earlier times of the Colosseum in Rome. The thumbs up or thumbs down given by the emperor to decide upon the fate of the gladiators before him is replaced by a chartered surveyor giving his or her life-changing decision as to whether a house has been correctly valued. I think that I would look great in armour and a loincloth….