ONTARIO, Canada, Friday August 9, 2019 – Markets across the Caribbean are seeing a steady increase of foreign investment in real estate as aging baby boomers from Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. snatch up vacation homes and condos throughout the region. But with foreign investment comes the expectation that local businesses adhere to international standards for transparency, professionalism and submit to quality assurance.
“As Caribbean markets become increasingly complex and continue to attract foreign investment, those seeking valuation services are recognizing the value of adopting international standards for professionalism and accountability to protect their own business interests,” explains Michael Zuriff, Head of Regulation for RICS in the Americas. “Over the past few years, we’ve seen a change of culture that has improved trust in transactions.”
Reliable valuations are the foundation of a strong real estate market. They provide the purchaser and lender with the assurance that they are getting good value for their money. As transactions become increasingly global in nature, investors seek confidence that their investments are sound. RICS, the global professional body that sets and regulates on international standards for professionals working in the built environment, has been on the front-line building trust and raising standards for the appraisal industry in the Caribbean.
Asset managers and investors expect the same formal process to be followed when investing in an asset in the Cayman Islands as they would get in New York City or Toronto. For RICS, this process is set out in the Red Book – its valuation manual for those who are registered valuers. Registered Valuers are one of several professions regulated by RICS. Professionals in construction, commercial real estate or valuation who have met the strict requirements that result in their graduation to an AssocRICS, MRICS or FRICS qualification have agreed to adhere to the RICS standards of conduct and professional practice.
Following the global financial crisis and with input from professionals and clients, RICS has set up a Valuer Registration program that signals to investors that professionals are meeting international standards of professional conduct and that they submit their work product to external scrutiny. This proactive monitoring program underpins the valuation standards that RICS professionals work to in markets around the world. Valuation professionals in the Caribbean participate in this program and are strengthening confidence in the work they provide by working to RICS standards.
“RICS Registered Valuers agree to open their books to us for a formal audit program that ensures they are following best practices in their work,” says Zuriff. “RICS has an international reputation to protect so we ensure those who carry our name are living up to the values it represents.”
When professionals sign up for Valuer Registration, they agree to be reviewed by a team of Regulatory Surveyors. The audits check that registered professionals are complying with all professional standards and best practice guidelines and have robust processes and procedures in place. Following the audit, RICS will draft a report highlighting any risks or areas for improvement.
When issues are identified, professionals may be required to take specified training to remedy any areas identified for improvement. Ongoing issues of non-compliance may lead to additional disciplinary action. Members of the public who have reason for concern or a complaint against an RICS-qualified professional are encouraged to file an official complaint with RICS for an independent investigation.
Over the past few years, RICS has worked closely with professionals in the Caribbean to keep them up to date with international expectations and best practices. The professional body holds regular events including an annual Caribbean Valuation and Construction Conference and a bi-annual Property and Construction Conference in the Cayman Islands. These events build international networks and bring opportunities to share thought leadership between professionals from the region.
RICS professionals are also required to participate in continuous professional development to keep their skills sharp and stay current in a dynamic global market. There is increasing demand from major lenders and investors globally for valuations undertaken by RICS Registered Valuers because of the quality assurance that comes with the program.
RICS, through efforts such as Valuer Registration, aims to ensure the quality of valuations, raise the credibility of valuers and provide clients with a clearly identifiable designation of international standards, quality and the consistent application of Red Book standards. RICS believes that a thriving and strong profession, operating under a single global standard and modern regulation system, is good for professionals, clients and society.