Surveyors' institute, StreetSine reach understanding on automated valuation models; court action ends

StreetSine operates SRX Property, a digital platform that offers real estate-related services, such as property listings. PHOTO: SRX

SINGAPORE - Information technology company StreetSine Singapore has dropped its lawsuit against the Singapore Institute of Surveyors and Valuers (SISV) and 26 other parties, marking the end of a three-year dispute.

StreetSine and the institute reached an understanding after a court-initiated mediation, according to a joint statement released by both parties on Tuesday (Dec 10).

StreetSine operates SRX Property, a digital platform that offers real estate-related services, such as property listings. StreetSine is owned by StreetSine Technology Group, a subsidiary of Singapore Press Holdings which publishes The Straits Times.

It also has a property valuation service, which utilises a combination of computer-generated values and licensed appraisers to produce certified valuation reports.

SISV is a national body representing professionals in the real estate and construction industry, such as land surveyors, valuers, property managers, estate agents and quantity surveyors.

The dispute was sparked by a statement issued by the institute in April 2016, stating that "computer-generated values are not considered valuations (in accordance with SISV Valuation Standards and Practices Guidelines) and are therefore not recognised by the institute".

At the time, StreetSine was in talks with banks to join their valuation panels.

The company said that the banks terminated all further discussion with it shortly after the institute issued the statement.

It also said that its valuation revenue fell sharply in the following months.

StreetSine then brought proceedings against the institute and 26 other parties, including property consultant firms such as Knight Frank and CBRE, alleging that the parties were "in a conspiracy" to injure its business and reputation.

StreetSine also said that the institute and the 26 other parties prevented it from marketing its valuation products to banks, financial institutions or the public in Singapore and overseas.

In the joint statement by StreetSine and SISV, the parties said they had arrived at a "better understanding to promote the use of technology" as a tool for pricing residential property.

SISV acknowledged that automated valuation models, which are widely used by property buyers and sellers as well as real estate professionals to obtain an instant indication of property value, "have transformed Singapore's property industry".

It also encouraged property professionals and financial institutions to embrace technology "as important tools in performing valuation and transacting property".

On StreetSine's part, it recognised that the opinion of a licensed appraiser remains an important part of the property valuation process for property transactions, or any other situations where a formal valuation is required.

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