As the name suggests, a desktop valuation is one that is done at a desk, rather than someone going to physically view the property. It is done using information publicly available online, as well as existing data the surveyor may have about the area or house itself in their records.

If you are applying for a mortgage, it may well be the case that the lender chooses to do a desktop valuation, and there are a lot of good reasons as to why this may be the case.

A desktop valuation is often a lot cheaper and, in most cases, free to you (meaning the lender pick up the bill for it). It can also be a lot quicker, sometimes returning the required information in a matter of minutes. We have examples of clients applying for mortgages with some of the bigger banks, where the automated (or desktop) valuation has been completed there and then and approved immediately.

This can be advantageous as waiting for a surveyor to be able to see your property can add costly time to a mortgage application.

There can be some disadvantages you need to be aware of though.

If you are buying a house, you may want a more detailed review of the property before you buy it. A desktop or automated valuation will not tell you if the house has any structural issues, or if the plumbing and electrics need replacing. The property you are buying or remortgaging may also have unique features that can either increase or decrease the value that this type of valuation will not pick up on. When purchasing a home, we always recommend getting the most detail survey of a house possible as far as your budget will allow.

Finally, there is a degree to which a lender will accept the reliability of a desktop valuation. If the property has been bought and sold, or refinanced in recent years, the chances are that the data the surveying company has will be more up to date. If the property hasn’t been looked at in 20 to 30 years, it’s likely a desktop valuation will not be acceptable, and the lender will require a more detailed report.

Technology is extremely helpful when applying for a mortgage. But there can be limitations. Your adviser will speak to you about your options and help you decide which type of valuation is best suited to help you.