For many house sellers, the answer to this question gets the ball rolling. For some,the answer stops them selling at all.
The answer to the question will depend to some extent on why you’re asking. The answer for a remortgage may be different from what you could reasonably expected to get if you tried selling today.
To help you answer the question in a straightforward way let’s make two assumptions.
The first, is that you’re interested in knowing because you may put your house on the market. We’ll also assume that you live in a ‘regular’ house that’s not a one of, architect designed luxury pad or ancient manor house. By a ‘regular’ house we mean they’ll be other similar styles of property in your road or estate. This makes it much easier to find information about likely valuations even before you call an estate agent!
You can approach property values with varying degrees of rigour.
There are possibly three different approaches – that give you answers with varying levels of certainty.
Basic information on house prices
There are many sites offering house price information. The best sites include:
These will give you information on sold prices in your street. But ‘sold’ prices are historic. They will tend to underestimate prices in a rising market, and over estimate in a difficult market.
Strictly speaking no two houses are the same even although they may have the same design and ‘footprint’. But if you’re looking for a ball park figure they are a good starting point.
Online Valuations / Reports
If you want a more robust figure you can purchase a house valuation report online. These attempt to do two things.
First they attempt to update historic prices to come up with current figures. Different providers have different methodologies for doing this. They can be useful if you live in one of those ‘regular’ type of houses we mentioned at the begging.
Hometrack for example will give you a range for your property together with a confidence level. This tells you the degree to which you can be sure the figure is in the right ball park.
Providers of online valuations and online valuation reports include:
At the time of writing some valuations are free. Others such as Hometrack cost about £20.
You can argue all day long about which provider / method is better. The more helpful approach is to realise that the more sources you use – the more accurate a picture you’re likely to get.
England and Wales have a different survey culture to Scotland. In England and Wales surveys are generally instructed by lenders on behalf of buyers. In Scotland surveys are now purchased by the seller (or more likely through the solicitor acting for the seller) before a property is put on the market.
To answer the ‘what is my house worth’ question as accurately as possible, a survey is the most robust method. This usually involves a surveyor coming out to the property and surveying both the interior and exterior. Two different surveyors from two different firms can survey the same property and come away with different valuations. A valuation is less objective fact and more informed opinion.
Most people don’t need to survey a property unless it is being sold. However, surveys can be an essential for the purpose of divorce negotiations or dispersal of a deceased estate.
People sometimes wonder if any ‘penalty’ applies to a property if it is surveyed multiple times in quick succession. From our experience it appears not.
Forking out for your own survey if you don’t strictly need too is expensive. A decent estate agent or solicitor estate agent (in Scotland) should be able to give you their opinion on the valuation or price data you’ve come up with – as it relates to the sale of your property.