Estate Agents' Valuations
Lots of advice on getting a valuation and choosing an estate agent!
The usual valuation carried out by an estate agent is a market appraisal, a specific type of valuation where the agent values your property specifically for marketing purposes. It is different from an insurance valuation, which estimates the price of rebuilding, or a bank or building society valuation, which is for lending security.
A typical estate agent’s market appraisal visit lasts about an hour, but will vary depending on the size of your home, how many questions you have, and how thorough the estate agent is. Try not to rush the process, as it is a great opportunity for the agent to get to know your home, and for you to get to know them.
You can find automated online valuation tools on many portals and websites. Their clever algorithms takes into account many factors, including the price you paid for your property, the prices achieved by similar properties in the area, and local trends. However, they do not reflect the unique features or condition of your property, unusual pricing when you bought, dilapidations, or any improvements you have made. There is no substitute for an estate agent’s professional valuation.
Choosing an estate agent to do your valuation
It is usual to invite two or three estate agents to provide a market valuation. It is absolutely fine to stop at one valuation if you feel that the first agent to call around offers everything you want. Equally it is acceptable to ask every agent in your area until you are happy with one of them.
Many valuers are paid per instruction – they are committed to getting your business, but they may not have a genuine vested interest in selling your home. That job may go to another individual or team.
In many cases the valuer will not be the person who writes up the property details, takes the photographs or directs the photography, answers the phone to a buyer, follows up on enquiries, or chases the solicitors.
At your valuation appointment, try to find out about the whole team who will be working on your property, and who will be looking after you day to day. Will everybody in the estate agent’s office visit your property? Will enquiries be answered by a junior or an outsourced office service?
Remember that the most knowledgeable agents may not be the most experienced, and the most experienced may not be the most knowledgeable.
Comparing marketing strategies is a useful way to differentiate between estate agents; the most charming or enthusiastic agent may not offer the best marketing reach or quality, especially online.
Would your property benefit from a nationwide marketing strategy? Will the agent you choose provide this? Having other branches around the country is no guarantee of exposure to buyers registered at those branches.
Before the estate agent’s visit:
There is no need to make any special preparations for the valuation visit. Most estate agents (unlike most buyers!) can see beyond any mess or clutter, or grass that needs cutting.
Before they arrive, think hard about the price you would realistically accept. The duty of an estate agent is to get the best possible price for your home, but they are far more likely to achieve this if the asking price is realistic from the outset. An overpriced property may stick on the market and get a bad reputation. On the other hand, an undervalued property may attract lots of viewings, perhaps some competing offers, and could even be sold at above the asking price.
Remember that when you look at similar properties for sale to compare their prices with yours, you can only see those which are publicly visible (some properties are sold off the open market), and you can only see the current marketing prices. You can't see whether they are overpriced or underpriced, what price they have been reduced from, or what interest they are getting at the current price.
When you look at sold property prices on Rightmove, that is unlikely to be the price they sold for. They may have accepted an offer, or a surveyor may have downvalued the property after a mortgage valuation.
Estate agents can look at Land Registry data and see all the properties which have sold and completed registration, and the actual price they sold for, which gives them a much more realistic guide to value.
During the Valuation
It is important to be realistic and objective about your home. Most of the factors which influence its value are out of your control, and out of your estate agent’s control too. These include size, location, and the current state of the market. At the end of the day, your property is worth exactly what somebody is willing to pay for it.
Valuers will take into account the price you originally paid for the property when calculating its current value. If you have made any significant improvements to the property since you arrived, or if the price you paid was not full market value, be sure to inform them.
If there is work to be done, be scrupulously honest about what you intend to achieve in the short term. For example, don’t say the bedroom will be carpeted or the exterior will be painted if this may not be the case.
Has the Estate Agent done their homework?
Notice how well the agent has researched property values. Most estate agents use online tools to select comparable properties, such as those on Rightmove and Zoopla Pro. These can be run off in two minutes. Have they extended the search area beyond your immediate postcode and examined prices for more or less bedrooms, with gardens like yours, sold prices, fall throughs, withdrawals, and price reductions for similar properties? Can they justify why they picked the examples they chose?
Beware – many estate agents will flatter your property and suggest a higher price than it is worth, in order to attract your business. This is a common strategy, all the more so when there is a shortage of stock for sale. We recommend that you carry out your own independent research into local prices so you are not swayed.
Preparing for Sale
You might like to ask the valuer for their advice on preparing for viewings.
A good estate agent will be able to offer good advice on strategies for staging your home, minimizing buyers’ concerns, and maximizing the price.
Do they know their stuff? Or do they just give you a bunch of waffle?