A new era may soon dawn in the real estate sector, if the Nigerian Institute of Bankers (NIB), and the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV) accept proposal to establish a joint standard committee on good mortgage valuation practice in the country.

The initiative is expected to promote understanding between both professions in financial reporting and particularly secured lending decision making as well as ensure common professional standards, methods for measuring and expressing valuation uncertainty.

Concerns have been mounting in the banking sector over inaccurate valuation, which variance causes fluctuation in the price of property, and jeopardises the future of commercial property market. The international banking community has also be calling for harmonisation of valuation standards, due to the large number of loans that are secured on real estate,

Most litigations against valuers comes from banks that have lost money on property loans and are seeking to recover or mitigate their losses. In most cases, lenders suffer losses, which pose a threat to the credibility of valuers and the relevance of the valuation profession; while it exposes individual valuer/valuation firms to liability for professional negligence.

Given these and other potential grave consequences of inaccurate valuation, stakeholders met recently in a forum organised by Estate Management Department, University of Lagos in collaboration with Estate Surveyors and Valuers Registration Board of Nigeria (ESVARBON) to resolve the issue.

They agreed that to preserve the sanctity of secured lending transactions and to minimize the likelihood of confusion, abuse, and conflicts, there should be standardisation of the valuation process and practice.

According to them, Nigerian market is presently poorly researched. More dedicated research is required to open up the market and establish the true state of the parameters/variables that valuers input into their valuation models – yields, depreciation, outgoings, and risk premium.

The participants also agreed that risk management in secured lending is a shared responsibility between the lender and the valuer. For instance, the professional valuer primary task is the preparation of an objective valuation which must be explicitly conveyed and explained based on relevant facts, logical assumptions and valuers’ judgments as contained by industry’s prescribed standards and guidance notes.

They urged firms of real estate valuers to guide against falling prey of the following common causes of inaccurate valuations – clients’ pressure, using valuer’s with inadequate knowledge and experience, inappropriate methodology, limited time for thorough inspection and/or valuation, inadequate or absence of quality control within the firm, and carrying out valuation in unfamiliar markets, using inappropriate method or basis.

They noted that the industry is presently too fragmented to make the desired impact and to take advantage of new innovations and resources for improved performance. “Big and medium sized firms with up to 10 partners would be in a better position to fund research, support standard library, promote specialised skill, fund staff training and acquisition of necessary technology, and afford better geographical spread, among others.”

They are also advocating that lenders should work with NIESV to standardise valuation processes in order to raise the present level of consistency, transparency, objectivity and traceability – the universal hallmark of asset pricing.

“Risks officers should have adequate knowledge of valuers’ methods and the valuation process to be able them discern, beyond mere figures of market value or forced sale value, valuations that sufficiently conform to the prescribed professional standards and ethics.”

They said: “In a volatile, thin and highly opaque property market as we have in Nigeria, secured lending valuations ought to be reviewed frequently sustain the loan-to-value over the loan period of the loan, say, every two or three years.”

In setting tone for the forum, Associate Professor and Head, Department of Estate Management, Gabriel Babawale noted that the involvement of the academia is not a coincidence or an afterthought as reliable valuation thrives on research, empirical studies and market information made available in the right quantity and quality.

His words: “Investors and lenders require and deserve better investment guides considering the huge size of funds that are now channeled into the property market. Dedicated and concerted research is required to open up the market and provide a safer and a plainer playground for investment.”

The Guardian