Residential estate agents will turn up at your property and undertake a brief assessment, check nearby comparables and send you a report most of which is a standard template outlining what they believe your property might be worth. This may be tinkered with to raise potential expectations within a job and more often than not gloss over items of significance that would cause a prospective party to reduce their offer such as the condition of the property.
Commercial Chartered Surveyors are rarely able or indeed willing to deal with matters in this way. But advise is nonetheless is permanently requested, so should this advice be requested free of charge? It is normally the case that sensible businesses will ask for a variety of opinions on a given matter of which they believe they do not know the answer. Commercial property is permanently varying and emotive subject being one of the most expensive outgoings for any business needing physical premises to undertake their business of work. So we, safe in the knowledge that our PI policies are becoming ever more expensive, provide our advice on a number of levels. This advice depends very much on how this information is to be used.
A “rough indication” of value or prospective rental levels can usually be given free of charge for it is appropriately caveated bearing in mind this is more often than not provided with significant amounts of third party and unverified information and this in assessing the basic requirement for a project in the planning process is normally sufficient. It is often also the case that reports, and updates of advice are provided free of charge to repeat clients of agencies safe in the knowledge that their advice is trusted and not wasted and why in particular for companies such as ours repeat business makes sense for all parties involved. Effort in return for ongoing instructions will be gratefully given.
Over the last few years we have taken care to choose those who wish us to act on their behalf as carefully as possible. Clients who “know what they don’t know” are actually the ones we trust the most and that trust is returned. This breeds loyalty and work from these clients is prioritised over all others. We can only make a living through the success of our clients and we look to provide them with the knowledge that allows them to create further success in other matters of their business in which they are the specialist.
We took a strategic decision a few years ago to stop undertaking bank valuations. Not only did we see this as a huge risk it seemed that our insurance providers felt the same way and inclusion of valuations in our list of services meant a significant ramp in the cost of policy. This doesn’t happen for no reason. Whilst we continue to support one of our most experienced surveyors with a licence from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors to continue with valuations for probate for accountancy reasons, we and a number of other Chartered Surveyors have dropped out of providing bank valuations for lending purposes.
If our governing body the RICS was perhaps a little more vocal in determining a standard method of valuation, its members would provide to the banks free of influence and direction this might be something we would reconsider. So, I would ask that you don’t ask for a valuation that you don’t need and respect the experience of the individual of whom you are asking the opinion from. It is not given lightly and as ever if you value something be prepared to pay for it. All most surveyors have to sell is their time and experience.
-Anthony Wiggins MRICS
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