What is a desktop mortgage valuation?
As the name suggests a desktop mortgage valuation is carried out by a surveyor from their desk, rather than physically visiting a property. It looks at the same information as a standard mortgage valuation (see our article What is a mortgage survey?), to establish for your lender how much the property is worth.
You might ask how could a surveyor possibly be able to gauge a property value without physically visiting? They’ll use a number of tools and information available including:
- Information vendors provide about the property.
- Recent home improvement works.
- Information about the area.
- The value of similar properties nearby.
What are the benefits of a desktop mortgage valuation?
Usually, the main benefit is the cost. It is far cheaper to have a surveyor assess the property from their desk. This eliminates the cost and time for the surveyor to travel between properties. Similarly, you won’t have to wait till a surveyor is in the area to carry out the survey. It also speeds up the process because surveyors can review this type of information in a faster time than it takes to inspect the property.
Are there disadvantages?
Yes, unsurprisingly this type of valuation is not as accurate as a physical inspection. Often assumptions are made on the condition of the property. It might not spot structural, electrical or plumbing issues that would be obvious to a surveyor in the property. It also may not pick up any features that make your property unique and worth more (or less) than similar properties in the area.
When is this type of survey not suitable?
Increasingly, mortgage lenders are happy to accept this type of survey. Particularly on straightforward properties, new builds or re-mortgage applications. However, sometimes there are just too many variables for the surveyor to come to an informed decision.
These might include properties that have had non-standard construction works such as extensions or particularly large houses. Anything that may be difficult to assess. If the property has not been bought or sold in a long time, the reliability of the data available may cause difficulties.
In these circumstances you may need to go back to a traditional mortgage valuation survey.
Do I still need a full survey?
The important thing to remember about mortgage valuation surveys, whether carried out at the property or from a desk, is that they are for the benefit of the lender. The ultimate goal is to assess the value of the property, in order to decide how much money they are willing to loan you.
If you want to understand the condition of the property, works that may need to be completed or the costs of renovations, you will still need a full building survey. A good quality building survey provided by an independent chartered surveyor will give you all this information. It might just be the best few hundred pounds you invest in your new property!