Does per square metre and per square foot work when comparing houses?

Independent surveyors

valuationWe can provide help and advice with regard to independent valuations, by this we mean a valuation of what the property is worth, not a mortgage valuation or lenders valuation.

We also provide our own unique building surveys and structural surveys.  We can also advise on specific defects and indeed any other property matters on both commercial and residential properties.

Please free phone 0800 298 5424 for a friendly chat with one of our surveyors.

Square foot and Square metre prices,we have been using them for many years

valuationFor many years it has been normal practice within surveying to use square foot and/or square metre prices although generally these are related to commercial valuations.  We are very familiar with the use of square foot and square metres when comparing commercial properties and it is a good system where there are few comparables.

How a house price is worked out by surveyors

valuationGenerally house prices are worked out by surveyors, or they should be, using the comparables method where you compare different properties with the one that is for sale and from your knowledge decide on the attributes (the plus and minus factors known as features by estate agents) to get to the price.  A surveyor that has good knowledge of the area or the market and is awake and not running on automatic pilot can use this method very effectively particularly if they have access to one of the many internet tools that allows them to look at prices properties have sold at.

Surveyors running on automatic pilot

valuationWe have made this comment as we have found that some valuation surveyors are literally carrying out so many valuations that they are running on automatic pilot and don't see even what we would consider to be obvious things and so errors are made.

What is the different between a Chartered Surveyor's Valuation and an Estate Agents Valuation?

This can be considerable, the estate agents are looking for a price at which to market the property to get interest and also of course the best price possible for their client.  Whereas a Chartered Surveyor is looking at what the market is actually doing and what properties have sold for.  So an estate agent will tend to use for sale prices and a Chartered Surveyor will use sold prices.

How house valuations were carried out

valuationIn years gone by surveyors used to rely on discussions with estate agents which they often knew well.  As we have mentioned in other articles estate agents are not the best source of information due to them being salespeople.  The phrase Caveat emptor means buyer beware and is why you need to have a building survey to find out if there are any problems within the property; the estate agent certainly will not advise you of any.

The link is broken between Chartered Surveyors and Estate Agents

Up until the 1970's Chartered Surveyors generally ran estate agents (as opposed to the banks and mortgage companies that now own most of the large conglomerates of estate agents).  Then in the 1970's the mortgage company business bought into estate agents to give themselves vertical integration when selling their mortgages.  This meant that Chartered Surveyors no longer had first hand experience of what properties sold for.

Other surveying articles that may be of interest

We have written many surveying articles which may be of interest to you:

Are surveys better than valuations?

What is my home worth?

Can you trust a surveyors valuation?

Do Surveyors really value the property or just rubber stamp the lending process?

Why are our surveys better than the competition?

Production line surveying

In more recent times what we would term as production line surveying has occurred as the banks, building societies and mortgage companies bought the estate agents they separated the selling process from the surveying process.  This also meant that surveyors travelled further to carry out valuations and also did more valuations and in times of booms they did many more valuations, many in the surveying profession would say too many.  It is simply not possible to value properly if you are carrying out a lot of valuations in a day.  Have you ever tried driving to four houses a day let alone walking around them and writing a report about them albeit that the reports tend to be relatively small it is still hard just getting from A to B and C to D.

Why doesn't square foot or square metres work in houses and homes every time?

It is not strictly true that it doesn't work every time but it needs to be used with an understanding of what is being used and not looking purely at square footage of square metres.

Our concerns with looking purely at a square foot or square metre rate is:

1.  Big differences in an area

There can often be big differences in an area of a city, town or village.

2.  Subtle differences in a street

There are often good ends and not so good ends of a street to live in.  For example we can think of one street where the park end is far more popular and more expensive than the other end of the street.

3.  Positives and negatives of a location

There can be many other factors for areas being popular from the obvious such as good schools nearby, work and good road and rail links to the less obvious such as it literally being the sunny side of the street or within walking distance of a nice bar, coffee house or parade of shops.  We know of one large developer who looks specifically for small parades being within walking distance.

4.  Good view or outstanding viewvaluation

There are more obvious things such as a good view or an outstanding view – how do you value the difference between a good view and an outstanding view?  Is there a point where you can be too close to something nice for example having the sea almost crashing outside your front door is many people's ideal scenario but if there is coastal corrosion then things are not so great.

5.  Internal decoration

Such things as internal decoration, whilst we do appreciate that style and taste is purely personal, to change a building to a more traditional taste or contemporary taste or more middle of the road taste can be expensive and does to some extent affect the value of a property.  We have mentioned that because it is a relatively easy concept but perhaps what is more difficult to understand is how a layout can affect a value.

6.  Layout of house and homes affecting their value


It is almost an intangible thing but if you are a surveyor that has surveyed many, many properties as we have, you become aware of what is a flowing layout of a property and what is an awkward layout of a property and what is a quirky layout of a property that is desirable and a quirky layout that is undesirable.  This often occurs where houses have been extended very much to their owners taste.  It can be sometimes where house builders are experimenting with different designs.  There are also wow factors where a property has one or two features that you particularly like.

7.  Kerb appeal and too much kerb appeal

They say it is the first three seconds when you view a property that you make your mind up about it and it takes a considerable amount of time to change your mind.  To some extent you are just validating the decision you have already made when you go and see the property.  As such this is when square foot and square metre rates become very difficult because even if you compare net floor area, i.e. the useable floor area excluding such things as hallways and corridors are you really comparing like with like?

8.  BMV – below market value

BMV sales are often important in the market.  This could be because the property is in poor condition or it could be a sale that is made in a distressed state say in relation to divorce or debts.  These can affect the comparables in the market.

We have come across people who have bought properties way below the asking price and way above the asking price.  We feel it is best to know your budget and what you are happy to go up to and then have a second opinion so to speak from a Valuer as we find in our experience that most production line Valuers or what we would term as salesmen Valuers who are often referred to as surveyors by the estate agents as they don't want you to have an independent survey, are literally ticking off the price that you have agreed anyway.

9.  Many other factors

We could say more but we hope that this has helped you understand that square foot and square metres are not as simple as it first seems.

Unless you have an independent survey you will never find out the true value of the property in our opinion.

Independent Surveyors

If you truly do want an independent expert opinion from a building surveyor, we are happy to do valuations, building surveys, structural surveys, structural reports, engineers reports, specific defects reports, home buyers reports or any other property matters.  Please contact us on 0 800 298 5424 to have a free of charge friendly chat with one of our surveyors.

We feel our surveys are quite unique, as they are written to your level of knowledge.  The surveys include photos and sketches and definitions.  The survey will also include an action required section and an estimate of costs in the executive summary.  We are more than happy to meet you at the property whilst carrying out the survey to discuss any specific issues you may have or have a general chat about what we have found at the end of the survey.

We highly recommend you always make sure when you have a survey you meet your Surveyor at the property.

valuationWe can email you examples of our structural surveys

If you are interested in having a Structural Survey we can email you examples of our structural surveys please call us on free phone us for a friendly chat on 0800 298 5424.

We would also be happy to email you some examples of our tailor made reports, Structural Surveys and Property Reports.  We can send you examples of Structural Surveys on, we believe, every type of property and era.

We can talk and talk about property

We hope you found the article of use and if you have any experiences that you feel should be added to this article that would benefit others, or you feel that some of the information that we have included is wrong then please do not hesitate to contact us (we are only human).

The content of the website is for general information and entertainment only and is not intended to be relied upon for specific or general decisions.  Appropriate independent professional advice should be taken before making such a decision Free phone 0800 298 5424 for independent surveying advice.

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