The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has announced moves to help the housing sector return to work in the next few weeks and is set to reveal ‘practical guidance’ that will ensure valuations and surveys can once again begin in a safe way.

The suspension of valuations in March put a hold on many mortgage offers, preventing surveyors from completing inspections whilst a number of lenders withdrew a large number of their mortgage deals. The new set of guidelines for valuations across the UK are considered a critical development in kickstarting any movement within the housing market.

An RICS spokeswoman said: “The built environment, whether that is residential, commercial or construction, will play a significant role in rebooting the UK economy. But the health and safety of all who interact with it is RICS’ top priority.

Since lockdown began, we have pushed Government for clear and transparent guidance to keep key sectors working.

In the coming weeks, RICS will issue practical guidance to help professionals to re-open buildings and ensure safe home moving.”

Whilst some lenders have been utilising desktop valuations, a move to allow physical valuations and surveys in a safe way will help kickstart the purchase and sale of property again. There will however continue to be obstacles in place as the Government has advised people to only move into properties that are empty whilst some lender’s LTV rates may still be lower than they were previously, in order to lower their risk.

It is anticipated that any visit will be managed under strict hygiene conditions, with social distancing measures in place and necessary ventilation.

Andrew Smith, Managing Partner at Smith and Sons has welcomed the latest development. He said: “We have refrained from undertaking any physical inspections since the lockdown, carrying out desktop valuations only and therefore, as with any industry, a move away from lockdown will need to be managed carefully and responsibly and we must all adapt to a new way of working.

It’s encouraging to see some positive news come from our sector’s governing body. We will continue to await further guidance from the RICS, at which point we will begin to consider how we can begin to operate on site whilst bringing our team back to work using a phased approach.”

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