How Can I Accurately Value My Home?
The first thing you need to bear in mind is that valuing property is not – and never can be – an exact science.
In the end, your home is worth precisely what someone is actually prepared to pay for it – and that can be hard for any agent to predict with absolute accuracy, whatever the state of the market, despite market conditions.
That said, some agents do tend to be over-cautious in their valuations. Others, meanwhile, routinely over-value – with every intention of talking the vendor into accepting a price reduction almost as soon as they have won the instruction!
The standard response to this conundrum, of course, is to get a number of valuations (normally three) from different agents, and then simply eliminate the highest and lowest in favour of the one in the middle. Nevertheless, it is not impossible that one of the other valuations is actually nearer the mark.
So, how do you tell? The important thing is to understand how each agent arrived at his or her figure. What did they base their opinion on? You need to see evidence of the prices achieved for similar properties in the area – known in the industry as comparables. And you need to understand not only the similarities the agents have taken into account, but also the differences. Is your home in better or worse condition? Does it possess additional features? Does its location compare more or less favourably? Also, you need to know the age of these comparables. Precisely how long ago did those properties actually sell for those prices? If it was a while, you need the agents to explain what has changed since, and what adjustments they have made in order to take account of those altered circumstances.
These days, of course, you can do quite a lot of checking yourself, online: websites like www.myhouseprice.com and www.ourproperty.co.uk provide data on sale prices gleaned from the Land Registry. However, you really shouldn’t need to. Any agent worth his or her salt should provide you with all the evidence to support their valuation, without you having to ask for it.
So – my advice is to go for the agent who makes the most convincing case for their valuation – whatever the figure they arrive at!