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Leeds BS and Countrywide work to complete valuations

Leeds Building Society and Countrywide are looking to complete outstanding valuations on mortgage applications as physical property inspections in England resume.

The society was able to progress valuations in almost three-quarters of mortgage applications, despite the pandemic lockdown’s impact on the property market.

Leeds began booking appointments for physical valuations on the remainder of cases after the government eased restrictions last week.

Jaedon Green, chief customer officer Leeds Building Society, said: “We want to ensure the mortgage property market continues to operate smoothly, despite the volume of cases awaiting valuation across the industry.

“All of us are keen to see the housing market return closer to normality as soon as possible but it may take a little time to get used to the new working practices required to ensure buyers, sellers and surveyors stay safe.

“We use local valuers, who work in and are familiar with the local area, and are pleased to have been able to keep any delays to a minimum.

“Desktop valuations will continue to be used where appropriate and, for homeowners particularly concerned about social distancing, we’re also piloting external inspections which mean a valuer will still visit their home but doesn’t need to enter it.”

The public lockdown effectively suspended the UK property market in late March, making transaction completions and home moves almost impossible, while social distancing measures meant surveyors were unable to visit properties to carry out valuations for lenders and borrowers.

During this lockdown Leeds Building Society continued to work with its intermediary partners to progress applications, confirm offers and complete mortgages, as well as offering mortgage payment holidays and other support to existing borrowers whose finances have been affected by the pandemic.

Matthew Cumber, managing director of Countrywide’s Surveying Services, said the safety of homeowners and valuers was its priority as it works at pace to progress pipeline cases.

Cumber said: “To do this we’re accelerating the activity required to ensure our workplaces are ‘Covid-secure’ and introducing additional measures to assess and mitigate risk.

“This includes extra support for all our colleagues, such as PPE, to enable them to carry out work in a safe and secure way and offer added reassurance to homeowners.”