Tuesday, November 20, 2012

New system sees valuers slip through the regulator's net - The Irish Times - Thu, Nov 15, 2012

Estate agents all over the State worked themselves into a lather in recent months to ensure they had completed all the necessary paperwork required to qualify them for a licence to trade from the new Property Services Regulatory Authority (PSRA).

And even then, many were disappointed when their efforts didn’t meet with all of the stringent requirements, and applications were returned requesting further boxes be ticked.

So far so inconvenient, but at the same time, most practitioners welcomed the formal measures that will hopefully future proof consumers against some of the unregulated and shady practices that became evident during the recent property explosion.

It comes as something of a surprise then to discover that the new PSRA rules don’t licence or regulate valuation practitioners, ie the very people that assess properties and pronounce on their bottom line value.

This critical service is currently in heavy demand with so much bank involvement in property deals.

The valuer’s word will dictate the price at which a house might be bought or sold, or a mortgage approved or denied. The valuer will also put a nominal value on property assets for probate and family law cases. It seems odd then that such an important function is off the licensing radar.

When Around the Block asked head of the PSRA, Tom Lynch, how valuers could have been exempted from the licensing scheme, he said: “The Government just decided not to cover them, and focused instead on the property sales, rental and management areas. Valuation is a very specialised area with an extensive course of studies required to qualify. That part of the industry is covered under the Building Regulation Act and valuers tend to be registered by the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland.”

Lynch added that residential valuations are largely determined by location, and the property register is providing greater transparency. However for commercial properties the role is key. Lynch said he didn’t envisage valuers being included in the new licensing scheme any time soon.