28th October 2019 by Mark Aldis
With Local Authorities being one of the largest owners of properties and estimated assets valued in excess of £140 billion across England and Wales, comes the responsibility of ensuring Councils can accurately report on the value of their portfolio, as is their statutory obligation.
In the past Council asset valuation has been perceived as purely a box-ticking exercise to fulfil legislative requirement. This has changed with the adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards and perceptions continue to shift as central government pressure on Local Authorities continues to grow and external audit scrutiny increases.
With this in mind, we look at what you should be seeking from any council asset valuation provider appointed to value portfolio on your behalf.
With ever-dwindling budgets, first and foremost, Councils need a service that is competitively priced.
Look for a supplier who can be flexible in their pricing models and can offer discounts for longer term contracts.
Value can also be derived by leveraging the knowledge and expertise of your appointed valuers and in the case of asset valuation for accounting purposes, a firm with experience in the process including external audit support can prove invaluable.
An understanding of the complexities of the Public Sector property market is crucial in ensuring that thorough and accurate valuations are recorded to meet the most rigorous of audit requirements.
With ever-changing legislation and accounting practices occurring both within the Public Sector and generally, you need a supplier who has their finger on the pulse of any forthcoming valuation practice changes as well as legal updates on financial reporting mechanisms.
Focus on suppliers with a reputable, proven track record and who can offer an extensive referenceable client base. This means that you can reap the rewards of the data they have consolidated and built up over time, safe in the knowledge that with each valuation going forward it is coming from a more informed data source.
With each Local Authority required to produce their own asset management policy you should be looking for a supplier who understands the needs and requirements of the Council.
Your council asset valuation firm should be able to provide full transparency on their valuation methods providing both high level, simplified reporting and detailed reporting on valuations where required.
Ultimately your supplier should be able to carry out and evidence a full and thorough process on the valuations carried out on your behalf.
Whilst external audit processes continue to evolve each year having a valuation firm who is well versed in identifying the hot issues auditors focus on during audits can deflect time and effort away from the Authority. By handling enquiries on the Authority’s behalf and pre-empting them, a good council asset valuation partner will have all the necessary detail covered from the outset.
Look for a valuation firm who can demonstrate good working relationships with external auditors and whom have a reputation for responding quickly and accurately to auditor enquiries.
Ultimately you are looking for a safe pair of hands to get the job done quickly and efficiently and depending on your inhouse resources with as little or as much input from your team as required. Regardless of whether you have 50 or 1,000 properties requiring valuation the appointment of a firm who can work accurately, expediently and to deadlines is important.
Similarly, your chosen firm should be able to demonstrate a commitment to contributing to the development of better valuation practices within Local Government. For example, looking to standardise on valuation methodologies where appropriate for ease of reporting and auditing and to minimise non-market led valuation differences.
Service focused, your firm should be able to provide quick turnaround times on queries and interactions with your team as well as access to expert knowledge as and when it is required.