These are undoubtedly testing times within the property market and no doubt we have all been focused on implementing our contingency plans.
As I write, the UK is getting used to new restrictions that have been enforced which places the country on lockdown for a minimum of three weeks. Despite these being the most draconian measures implemented in living memory, there still could be stricter rules placed as seen in other European countries.
For a market that has traditionally relied upon face-to-face contact, especially when it comes to the viewing and assessment of property around a purchase, it might seem like an incredibly tricky situation that we find ourselves in. There seems to be little doubt that purchasing will be subdued as a result of the spread of COVID-19, however we have a number of technology-based solutions that we can utilise which should hopefully mitigate against the complete shutdown of physical inspections. Estate agents, for example, have been urged to introduce virtual viewings where possible.
In a way, within the mortgage and property professions, we are somewhat fortunate that we have the ability to use the tech available to us, and we are in a position to have large swathes of professionals working remotely or from home. Indeed, many within the surveying profession already do, and from our perspective, SDL Surveying is able to utilise our cloud-based systems so that we can continue to provide our primary services.
However, as I write this, surveyors are no longer permitted to visit homes and provide valuations and suveys via the traditional method, which means we have to find other methods in order to continue our work.
Technology is clearly the solution for many issues that have been raised, and are going to be raised in the future. For the surveying profession, the depth, breadth and scope for the use of technology is beyond anything we could have dreamt up just 15/20 years ago.
Were we to be in such a situation now back then, our ability to continue in a ‘business as usual’ way would be almost impossible. At the very best it would have been seriously curtailed, and therefore the leaps and strides forward we have made within the industry in order to get a far more digital process will undoubtedly prove their worth in the months ahead.
As an aside, if anyone had previously doubted the importance of us getting to a fully digital end-to-end property purchasing process sooner rather than later, then let this current situation dispel that notion forever. Our ability to keep on working, despite facing this extraordinary situation, is going to be proof positive that we need to find these solutions far quicker.
However, we can of course utilise all that technology has to offer right now, and at SDL Surveying we have migrated to desktop and drive-by valuations which has been backed by our lender clients in order to keep activity moving and to keep property chains in tact. Our ongoing approach will be to continue providing the quality service our clients are used to.
That said, our overriding aim is to ensure all our staff and network/partner firms’ staff are safe and healthy, and to that aim – like everyone else in business at present – it’s about ensuring we follow the guidelines and do not take any unnecessary risks. I hope you are all doing the same and, even with this major disruption, by utilising the technology available – and wherever we might be working from – we’ll still be able to work with clients and complete cases to keep business flowing.
Simon Jackson is managing director at SDL Surveying