Matthew Cumber is managing director of Countrywide Surveying Services

In the modern age, when customer expectation is so high and competition is rife, it’s vital for all businesses to constantly evaluate how we best service the needs of these customers, as well as a variety of strategic partners, investors and personnel.

Awareness around product offerings plays a huge role within this, especially from a consumer perspective.

Despite mortgage valuations being a staple component within residential lending, they are often misunderstood and much maligned. So, it was hardly surprising to see the results of a recent webinar poll – which took place in one of our regular webinars, this time focussing on the role of the mortgage valuation – highlight that four out of five consumers still confuse a mortgage valuation with a survey.

When asked the question – is the mortgage valuation still thought of as a survey? An overwhelming 80% of respondents believed this to be the case, with only 20% disagreeing with the statement.

Further polls were taken during the webinar around the valuation process and consumers understanding of it. Audience responses highlighted the need for greater consumer awareness around valuations, with 86% pointing out homebuyers’ failure to understand that a valuation could be completed by a computer. Whilst 14% suggested consumers were aware that this could in fact be the case.

We also asked the audience if they thought that – to avoid consumer confusion – the mortgage valuation should never be disclosed. This question split the audience with a small majority of 54% saying they thought it should never be disclosed with 46% declaring that it should always be disclosed.

When posed with the question – should an information pack, including the legal documents and survey, be provided when a property is marketed? Three-quarters of attendees (75%) thought that it should be included with 25% of the opinion that it should not be included.

There is little doubt that the mortgage journey can be a complex one for many people. Acronyms and jargon are used every step of the way and, as we all know, there are many steps along this particular road, ensuring that this remains a challenge for the whole industry.

Although it is a battle we must continue working hard to overcome. This is why associations such as The Home Buying and Selling Group have been formed from diverse sectors of the property industry who are motivated by a genuine desire to effect change.

Our very own head of sustainability, Ana Bajri is deputy chair of this group and we are fully behind her work which focusses on areas such as:

• providing more information prior to offer to avoid mis-selling and reduce timescales
• reservation agreements to reduce fall throughs and provide greater certainty
• improving the understanding of home movers and the education of property professionals,
• reforming leasehold and estate rent charges to create a better balance between the interests of the parties.
• working together to identify issues with industry working practices and identifying workable solutions

It’s all about facilitating change in the right way and this stems from ensuring that our own individual working practices are constantly under review and being open to learn from, and work closely with, other businesses.

This remains work in progress but from a surveying and valuation process, the more we can help buyers understand exactly what they need and what they are getting when they enter into the homebuying process the better.