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AN ARTICLE by Peter Scrafton FIRRV, FCIArb, MRSA(Hon) Solicitor (Non-Practising)

May 2015.

It went into a kind of suspended animation at the end of 2013, as we all know; but it re-emerged, last Autumn; and people are wondering what it has been doing, and what its plans are. There are no secrets, and clues have been popping up in "Valuer", which is perceived as the best professional journal dealing with valuation issues.

Until 1948, membership of the Institute was limited to local government officers. Council valuers performed all valuation tasks which their employers required. Rating valuation as taken away in 1948, but private practice was excluded from membership until the late 1960's, though local government continued to play a very active role in rating valuation (usually through its revenues officers), until the 1988 Act took that away. Increasingly, other valuation roles were outsourced; and so valuation within the Institute came to be seen as dealing exclusively with rating work.

This perception is misconceived, as successive issues of "Valuer" confirm. This is not to say either that rating valuation is not, and is not to remain, one of the core activities of the Institute's activities; but increasingly the Board has felt that we need to do more to dispel the image of the Institute's valuation faculty as a "one-trick pony" - and, in that regard, there is much on which to build.

The diploma and B.Sc degree courses which we have accredited at The Royal Agricultural University, in Cirencester are up and running. They represent a modern way of study, by blended learning. Full time courses and distance learning are available, with full online access to the University library, and tutoring by Skype for home students. No longer can the Institute's valuer qualification be regarded as secondary to any other, and we are seeking to publicise this - why, the courses actually teach valuation for statutory purposes! We need more students, of whatever age, and whether school leavers, people seeking a change of direction or those who have hit a glass ceiling and who require academic qualifications in order to progress.

Having been chosen as we have always maintained our own Valuer education system, we have taken a leading role in TEGoVA for a number of years, and steady and patient work has seen us help to shape the valuation policy of the EU. We have now seen the Mortgage Directive, which must now be incorporated into UK law. Increasingly, holders of the REV accreditation will be performing mortgage valuations, as is already frequently demanded by continental lenders. Those lenders will soon be demanding that valuers undertaking mortgage valuations in this country shall be accredited - and, if the British do not meet this requirement (the Institute and CAAV are the accrediting bodies, incidentally, and not RICS), then valuers who meet the requirements will be brought in from Europe, to do the work. German banks, remember, are major lenders in UK.

As you will have read, Europe is now trying to standardise the principles of mortgage lending, and we are fighting the British corner. The proposal to cap loan:value ratio at 60% (as in Germany and supported by Spain) would, if implemented, have a disastrous effect on the UK property market.

All good, esoteric stuff, I hear you say. How are you proposing to deliver on these and other topics? Well, the Board is studying, actively, a draft marketing plan, prepared by John Berry of VOA, and the plan will also be going to the Institute's Council.

We have also expanded the Board, and have set up two groups, within it, of which one concentrates on rating, and the other on, perhaps, more general practice work. As we are now working with ISVA, we have co-opted two of their Committee (both Institute members) who have much to contribute: one is a long-standing VT member, and they both, as do other members of that group, have substantial experience in professional valuation work, other than rating. Our objective is to serve valuers, across the spectrum, and throughout the UK as well as the general public, of course.

The elephant in the room is, of course, the rating system in England and Wales. The 2017 revaluation is "on", of course, and major, but unspecified, reforms are being promised in the next Parliament, by politicians of various persuasions. We are ready, and have already queried, in Parliament, one set of draft regulations what, simply, are not clear. We are always available for impartial consultation, and I can promise you that we will be watching, considering and, if necessary, intervening in a manner consistent with our non-party political status, and in the public interest.

So, if I may continue with the wildlife simile, if, like Fawkes, Professor Dumbledore's phoenix, we were moulting and looking out-of-sorts, a year ago, I can assure you that the Board has regenerated, is stronger than ever, and is already in action on these, and other projects.

Peter Scrafton

©J.P. Scrafton, 2015

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