What Is My Home Worth?

Independent Advice

We can provide help and advice from independent surveyors with regard to building surveys, structural surveys, independent valuations, property surveys, structural reports, engineers reports, specific defects report, home buyers reports or any other property matters.  Our surveyors are all independent, meaning they are not affiliated to any bank, building society or estate agent, and will therefore offer you impartial advice.

home worth

Our building surveys have lots of sketches and photos

We use lots of sketches and photos in our building surveys to help you understand the problems and get the best results for you such as being able to understand any problems that the property may have and therefore negotiating a better purchase price.

We would recommend that you meet the Building Surveyor at the property during the course of the survey and speaking to them about what they have found and again speaking to them when they have completed the report.

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

Valuing Your Own Home

Probably the biggest investment we make and the thing that we spend the most time paying for is our home.  Yet, ironically, it is very difficult to know how much the property is worth on the open market at any one time.  It is often discussed and many take a very keen interest in the value of their homes, feeling positively richer if the house is going up in value and feeling positively poorer if it is going down in value, when ironically (assuming they have only got one home) you will be selling your property at a higher value and also buying at a higher value and conversely you would be selling in a poor market at a low value and buying at a low value, so it shouldn't make a difference.  Nevertheless, there certainly is a feel good factor when you have bought a house at once value and the house has doubled in value, particularly if your mortgage has stayed at the original value!

home worth

 

What the estate agents say

We have heard it said by estate agents that a property is worth the amount one person is prepared to pay for it and, whilst this is true, it should be remembered that estate agents are trying to sell houses or perhaps more correctly they are trying to sell mortgages and houses.  We have written on this matter previously, please see our articles:-

Estate Agents

There Is No Point Being Honest

Mortgage Valuations

Mortgages, Aren't They Interesting?

 

Mortgage lenders, such as banks, building societies accept only surveyors valuations

Regardless of what the estate agents say the property is worth, most people will need a mortgage to buy the property and therefore they will need to have a surveyor's valuation, normally carried out by the mortgage company for the mortgage company (although you pay for it), but this isn't a valuation that really counts and is what is commonly known as the open market valuation, or more correctly, the market valuation.  It has a very precise definition and has been agreed with the council and mortgage lenders and is set out within The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors guidance notes, which gives a basis for every surveyor to value upon.

Surveyors' valuations

Comparable valuations, comparable properties

In its very basic form a home has a value using comparable properties.  This is information on what similar properties have sold for in the area.  This is very easy to do if all the properties look the same in the area, although it could be argued that no property is exactly the same as the next one, as the very basics of property mean that it won't be in the same location it will be next to the other property!

For example, two identical properties, one built on a corner plot, one built at the end of a cul-de-sac and one built on a busy road will all have different values, even if the actual house is identical outside and in.

Land Registry data

Another interesting area of valuation is where do you get reliable data?

Until very recently (1999 we believe) obtaining information on comparable properties was very difficult, unless of course you were carrying out valuation work on a daily basis, such as an estate agent or surveyor (correctly known as a valuation surveyor).  You wouldn't come across regularly what property is sold for.

Comparable valuations need to be based upon sold value of comparable properties and market knowledge

Many armchair valuers/homeowners work out the value of their property from comparable properties, based upon the for sale adverts within the property section of newspapers far and wide, which of course are the prices they are put on the market for and not the prices they are actually sold for.  Even if you rang up the estate agents to ask them what the property has sold for it could equally be argued that there is no reason that the estate agents wouldn't just remember what we would term as the better sales.

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The skill of comparable valuation

In years gone by there were the professionals, such as the surveyors and estate agents, who had almost a monopoly on what the properties were really selling from.  Many ran databases, also many had very good local knowledge and, what we would term as, market awareness.  We have heard it said that estate agents look on the bright side, being optimistic, with surveyors, guarding the interests of the mortgage companies, tending to have a pessimistic / realistic view of the market.  Either way, there certainly is a gap in valuations from estate agents and surveyors.

Comparables valuations - the computer age

home worth

With the computer age and the Land Registry making the purchase prices available to all since 1999, the finding of comparable data has become much easier, with many websites on the internet giving comparable values of sole properties.  These range from:

The Land Registry

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)

The Halifax

The Nationwide

Hometrack

Motley Fool

And Land Registry property sales

House Prices

Our Property

Net House Prices

Rightmove

Find A Property

Fish For

On One Map

Prime Location

Property Finder

Vebra

Nestoria

Globrix

Rental comparables:

Rghtmove

Gumtree

Other sources of information that a good surveyor should use:

Local area information: local council, transport, schools and local crime information, etc Upmystreet

Environmental information: Homecheck

Flood risk Enviornmental-agency.gov.uk

Estate agents, letting agents, surveyors- Google

So the problem has moved not from getting the comparable data but now it has moved to understanding it and making use of that data.

Let us go back to our three identical houses, for example one on a corner plot, one on a cul-del-sac and one on a busy road.  If we do have comparable data for them as to when they are sold it is very unlikely they sold at exactly the same time.  So to then get a value of the house there has to be an opinion on what percentage properties have gone up since these houses have sold and how your house compares to these three comparable houses (we have used three as this is what most mortgage companies require of a valuer /surveyor).

The Value Is An Opinion But Some Opinions Count More Than Others!

Many years ago to comply with financial rules and regulations the mortgage industry decided to use qualified surveyors to carry out valuations.  This was because they were aware that the surveyors had a level of property knowledge and often were also estate agents as well so knew the property from both the selling side and the sold side and of course it wasn't long before surveyors built up considerable knowledge in this area.  However, what tended to happen was estate agents decided to move over much more to the selling side with surveyors specialising in the valuation side.  Now it would be fair to say that many estate agents not only sell properties they also sell the mortgages as well in the form of referrals onto mortgage advisers or mortgage brokers.  Just be aware that many, if not most, mortgage advisers will be tied to a limited range of products (even with independent financial advisers you need to clarify from them which they choose of the mortgages that they recommend to you).

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Originally the surveyors were independent of the mortgage companies and estate agents but over the years they have tended to become part of large companies, as in many industries, and we now have the situation where the estate agent and the surveyors can be owned by the mortgage company, which in our mind does mean there is a conflict of interest.

We are still independent chartered surveyors. If you do want a valuation on your property please do not hesitate to contact us on 0800 298 5424.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Rules and Regulations

(Often Known as The Red Book)

home worth

This is effectively the Bible setting down common standards of which a valuer has to value a property. In the case of a house this is often known as an open market valuation or, more correctly today, as a market valuation. It has various parameters: For example, a house has to be sold by a willing seller and purchased by a willing buyer and the property has to be properly marketed.

Taking these two examples in more detail, there is considerable difference in the value of a property that hasn't been marketed correctly, and therefore hasn't been shown to all the potential buyers, and one that has been marketed correctly via a shop window display, a newspaper advert and internet advert.  Typically, in a normal market we would expect this to be 8 to 16 weeks.  In a strong increasing market this would be less weeks and in a poor market this would be many more weeks.  It can be argued that a property that is sold within a week had not been marketed properly and that there may be other buyers out there prepared to pay more that have simply not seen the property.  

The Red Book also takes into consideration a willing seller and a willing buyer.  A good example of this is a divorce situation: where one partner remains in the house but doesn't wish to sell the property can put off potential buyers and mainly offers that are received will tend to be lower.

Does My Property Have Many Different Values or Just One?

This is the very problem with valuations.  A property may have value to you but not have the same value to another person.

For example, we recently came across a property where the owner's mother and sister lived across the road and they had four children, which was very convenient (in this instance).   Accordingly, this would have added value when they came to purchase the property originally, as they may have been prepared to pay a bit more for the benefit of being located close to their parents and relatives (we can equally think of situations where it would make the property worth a lot less!).

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The property may have development potential, whether this is the form of an extension or if the garden is large enough, for example, to add another house.  This makes a valuation far more complicated.

Let us look, for example, at an extension on a property.  We will carry out this by saying depending on the area, a bedroom extension cannot be said to add a standard amount to a property, e.g. a sixth bedroom on a five bedroom house would not add as much value as a third bedroom onto a two bedroom house.  This is simply because there is more demand for that number of bedrooms.  Having said that, if the six bedroom house was in a road full of other large six bedroom houses then it could take away value if the bedroom wasn't added.  Alternatively, if the six bedroom house is in a road where there were typically three bedroom houses the adding of the bedroom may mean the property exceeds the road value.  By the road value we mean that every road has a typical value and also a limiting value.  This is why it is said that you should buy the worst property in the best road as whatever you do to the property means that it can grow in value.

How much is my property worth?

In summary, it is possible to value your own property, but make sure you use sold comparables so that you are aware of what the market is doing in your area.  For a pessimistic view you may use an estate agent, for a realistic view, and one that is backed by the mortgage companies, then use a surveyor.

See our other articles on adding value to your home:

Loft Conversions - do they add value?

Basement Conversions - do they add value?

Adding Value to Your Property

 

If you need help and advice regarding surveys please call 0800 298 5424 and a surveyor will call you back for a chat.

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 contents of the website are for general information only and is not intended to be relied upon for specific or general decisions.  Appropriate independent professional advice should be paid for before making such a decision.

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