Boom for home valuers

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Property valuers and quantity surveyors are riding a wave of demand created by changes in the way insurance companies assess their liability for residential properties.

Many New Zealand insurers are changing the basis of their home insurance policies from total replacement to "sum insured" as a result of the Christchurch earthquakes.

The sum insured figure is the maximum amount the insurance company will pay to repair or rebuild a home if it is damaged or destroyed, and it is the responsibility of the homeowner to advise the insurer what the cost of rebuilding their home would be.

Some insurance companies are providing online calculators to help people assess the rebuild cost, however many people are opting to employ the services of property valuers or quantity surveyors to get a more accurate estimate.

Roger Charnock is one of nine directors for Prendos, a national property consulting firm, and regional manager of the Tauranga branch.

He said the increase in demand for insurance valuations around New Zealand had been "massive" following recent publicity about the insurance changes.

"I'll put it very bluntly, incredible."

Prendos had responded to the changes in March by promoting their valuation product to insurance and mortgage brokers but demand across the country spiked following television coverage of the issue about three weeks ago.

"We're now getting about 20 enquiries a day for that product, before that it was about two a week, so you can see it's absolutely massive and that's because insurance policies from the first of July effectively are now impacted by this."

Mr Charnock said property valuers provided a much more informed and specific estimate of rebuild cost than online calculators, and quantity surveyors provided a further level of specificity on top of what valuers were able to do. The costs of getting a residential valuation would vary according to whether a property valuer or quantity surveyor was employed, he said.

Hills Haden director Roger Hills said residential valuations had been uncommon in Tauranga until recently. "It was only on the very rare occasion when someone was entirely lost and wanted to do it, so it's gone from one a year to not quite one a day."

Hills Haden valuers had valued about 20 residential properties in the past month, he said. The company currently employed three valuers but would look at employing another if the demand continued, Mr Hills said. "I don't think we could sustain that rate every month of the year without increasing our staff."

Mr Hills said a valuation for a medium-priced house would start at $450 plus GST.

Bay Valuation director Bruce Fisher said his firm had received "strong demand" in recent weeks.

Mr Fisher said online calculators were a "very blunt tool" that could leave some people underinsured if they ever need to make a claim to rebuild.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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