We often hear the phrase vanilla being used in a variety of contexts and, more often than not, this main point of reference is something being ‘standard’.
In valuation terms, we talk about the vanilla valuation, increasingly linking it to being ‘just’ the standard valuation. This is akin to suggesting that this is easy, almost like shelling peas.
When we talk about a valuation and how specialist it is becoming, which it is, we often overlook the base line which, without, we can’t become specialists.
So, what does vanilla mean when it comes to the valuation? Is it like shelling peas? Or is it something far more complicated? Is it something which we ourselves, as an industry, overlook and take for granted? Let’s take a step back, is vanilla really something which is grey, boring and simple?
Let’s look at valuations. As a valuer, we must be a qualified member of RICS and must also have additional valuation related competences confirmed by VRS accreditation.
We must know the principles of valuation – comparable, contractor, income etc and have a solid understanding of each. We must know what it all means and know when it becomes relevant (although in reality, most residential valuations are comparable led).
We must fully understand the law around property. Without knowing leasehold from freehold from commonhold we can’t complete any type of valuation.
We must have a thorough understanding of building pathology, construction types and MMC. For example, MMC isn’t just found in new build. New build becomes old build. Structural defects aren’t just for older builds but can be in new build too. At every corner, each specialist skill set forms part of the vanilla transaction.
We must know the legislative rule set – licensing, planning, building regulations, cladding, invasive species (and indeed many more!) and how each interacts with the property transaction and ultimately value.
We must know our professional obligations – act with integrity, always promote a high standard of services, act in a way that promotes trust, treat others with respect, take responsibility.
Valuation is an art not a science but a lot of science exists to get to the art of assessing value. Its component parts are numerous, complicated and interrelated and, must not to be taken for granted.
To get to the point of assessing what the willing buyer and willing seller will transact at is far from vanilla. It’s a specialism in its own right and is the core part of any further specialist type of valuation.
We aren’t just specialist HMO valuers for example, but extremely competent and skilled property professionals who simply have a more detailed knowledge in a more specialist area of valuation.
So, the next time we talk about vanilla – let’s remind ourselves that it is not just like shelling peas. It isn’t grey and dull but it reflects the skills we have accumulated to complete the valuation process expertly and professionally. Vanilla forms the bed rock of any valuation we do.
Don’t ignore it or be ashamed of it, celebrate it and spread the good news that everything we do is highly skilled.
John Baguley is director of technical, risk and compliance at Countrywide Surveying Services