The issue of independence in valuation is not new. For some time, many of the senior Partners in our firm have been advising and challenging the RICS on the relationship some valuers have with their clients, especially when a valuer’s independence or integrity could be called into question.
Clearly a poor outcome from audit can adversely affect both the client and valuer. There is also a risk that further action could be taken against the valuer, something potentially more likely in the UK private sector which has a reputation for being more litigious than the public sector when it comes to valuation.
RICS regulated members must reasonably believe the information prepared by third parties is adequate and reliable. As well as undertaking a valuation and relying on each client’s instructions and the information provided, valuers must continue to be vigilant and satisfy themselves that sufficient due diligence has been undertaken, challenging instructions or information if it does not appear to hold true.
Even though these are very challenging times with an expectation that valuers may need to make more subjective assumptions than usual, there are still ways of communicating constraints and guarding against potential risks that head off some of the concerns raised; things that should be a standard part of everyday working.
Part of this is to ensure a clear dialogue with clients. Even experienced property owners may not be familiar with valuation assumptions, methodologies or techniques and instead focus on outcomes – especially within more challenging markets where valuers may use a much broader base of data than relying solely on the traditional comparative method.
Particularly in the current market therefore, valuers’ ability to ensure their reports clearly articulate their interpretation of data, a reasoned approach and a clear outline of the chosen methodology, should ensure, standards, integrity and independence are maintained.