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Number of surveyors declining, warn experts

UK: The number of surveyors is decreasing, which could mean problems in the future for the housing industry, observed Robin Johnson, Managing Director of Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward Chartered Surveyors, UK, Mortgage Finance Gazette reported.

According to the report, the average age of a surveyor in the UK is over 55 years. This means that within the next 15 years many surveyors will retire. With declining numbers of surveying graduates, there is a strong possibility that the current shortage of surveying professionals is going to worsen.

Analysis of the Building Surveying Faculty Membership undertaken by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in 2007 estimated that out of a core membership of 15,938 members, just 12 per cent were under the age of 35 with the average age at 44 which would present a net shortfall of 6,909 members by 2017. And this was pre-credit crunch!

The report stated that the key challenge is the public perception of the residential surveyor. Compared with architects, engineers, computer scientists and other professionals, residential surveyors’ reputations have taken a battering. Primarily as a result of the collapse of the housing market, the public are served a daily dose of news about claims against surveyors and valuers that do nothing to improve confidence in the sector.

Even within the surveying industry, the residential chartered surveyor competes with the more lucrative and glamorous roles of commercial, marine and quantity surveyors. Add to that general ignorance of the benefits of reports such as the RICS HomeBuyer Report, The Building Survey and the new RICS Condition Report the consumer is left with the impression that residential surveyors are an expensive luxury.

The downturn has affected the economic attractiveness of surveying as a career. The growth of zero salary consultancy among surveying firms has limited appeal to new starters who are not ready for a quasi self-employed existence and for whom developing private work, available to established surveyors, is a difficult prospect with so little experience.

This is what awaits a surveyor who has undergone a five year degree and completed two years post graduate workplace development before starting work in earnest – quite a risk and commitment for a starting job with no salary.

At a market level, lenders’ fees have reduced over the past decade but crucially the volume of instructions, that fuelled an upward pressure on fees, has collapsed since 2008. The net effect of decreases in fees and volume has been to erode the value of the post in real economic terms.

Least convincing is the emergence of technologies and associated equipment such as Automated Valuation Models, powerful computers and database systems. AVMs will continue to play a big part in the future of surveying but will not bring the need for traditional surveyors to an end. The empirical approach of AVMs cannot replace real-time informed judgement about what is actually happening in the field. Surveyors will adopt and adapt with new technologies but not be replaced by them.

Source: www.mortgagefinancegazette.com