Valuation policy faces challenge

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The Independent Online
YOU find the house of your dreams, agree a price and even get a structural survey and professional valuation done. But the building society's valuation is much less than your surveyor's and the society will not advance the total amount. The deal is in danger of falling through.

Sound familiar? Nicholas Scott, director of the chartered surveyors Scott Davidson in west London, thinks the problem is widespread and has set up the Independent Surveyors' Association to challenge building society practices. The group already has 57 practices as members and says the number is growing daily.

Mr Scott says: 'In recent years the larger building societies and financial institutions have developed a stranglehold on the mortgage valuation business. This has had a number of direct effects, including increasing the cost of valuation fees, restricting consumer choice and indirectly depressing the housing market.

'The ISA has been established to restore the rights of the consumer and to maintain and promote the highest professional standards of ethics.'

The new organisation is looking for evidence that it can present to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, the Building Societies' Association and particularly the Office of Fair Trading of what it considers unfair practice by the societies.

However, the Building Societies Association rejects Mr Scott's criticisms. Sue Anderson says: 'The mortgage valuation is done not for the borrower but for the lender, to make sure his loan is secure.

'If a buyer wants a structural survey done that is up to him, but a lender is entitled to appoint his own valuer to protect his interest in the property and it is often cheaper for the same person to do the valuation and the structural survey at the same time.'

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