Your Home’s True Value – Everything UK Homeowners Need To Know About Property Valuation
Working out how much your property is worth is an important step whether you’re looking to buy, sell or just want to know your home’s current market value. While getting an exact valuation often requires professional help from estate agents or surveyors, there are things you can do yourself to get an estimated price range. This guide covers key factors that influence property prices in the UK and methods to calculate your home’s approximate value.
Understanding What Impacts Property Value
Many elements affect what a buyer will pay for a home and how much it’s worth on the market. Here are some of the main considerations when estimating property value in the UK.
One of the biggest factors determining a property’s price is its location. Properties in desirable areas near good schools, transport links, amenities and low crime rates tend to sell for higher prices. The reputation of the neighbourhood also plays a role.
Different property types have different values. Detached houses typically sell for more than semi-detached or terraced houses. Flats and apartments are usually less valuable than houses. Commercial buildings, agricultural land and other speciality properties also have distinct valuation methods.
Size and Bedrooms
Larger properties with more bedrooms, bathrooms and living space tend to be worth more. Smaller studios and one-bedroom flats have lower prices per square foot. The layout and functionality of the space also impact price.
Condition and Facilities
Homes in excellent, move-in condition sell for higher prices than dated, worn or damaged properties requiring renovation and repairs. Updated kitchens, bathrooms and amenities like parking boost value, while issues like dampness, asbestos and subsidence reduce offers.
Having a garden, balcony, roof terrace or driveway adds value compared to similar properties without outdoor space. Large, landscaped gardens increase desirability and price.
Energy performance, as shown on the property’s EPC (Energy Performance Certificate), influences value. Homes with better insulation, modern heating systems and double glazing sell for more. Poor efficiency ratings lower prices.
Demand and Supply
Prices fluctuate according to market conditions. When demand is high and supply is low in a particular area or for a certain property type, values typically increase. More choice and reduced competition cool prices.
Estimating Your Home’s Value
With an understanding of what impacts property prices, you can now look at different ways to calculate an approximate value for your home.
Check Recent Nearby Sold Prices
One of the easiest methods is looking at prices obtained for comparable properties sold recently in your neighbourhood. This gives you an idea of what buyers have been willing to pay. Focus on homes of similar size, type, condition and location. Online house price comparison sites and estate agent listings make it easy to find sold prices. However, this approach only works if there have been enough recent sales of similar properties. In slow markets, this information may be limited.
Compare Current Local Listings
Instead of sold prices, you can check current asking prices for homes similar to yours which are up for sale in your area. This shows you what sellers are hoping to get in the current market. Be aware asking prices don’t always match final sold prices, but comparing a few comparable listings will give you a ballpark figure. Estate agent websites, newspaper listings and agent catalogues make it easy to find local properties for sale.
Use Property Valuation Websites
There are various free online valuation tools you can use to get an instant estimated price for your home. Popular options in the UK include Rightmove, Zoopla, Nationwide and Halifax. These sites ask you to enter your postcode and details like property type, number of bedrooms, size and additional features. Their automated calculators then provide a valuation range based on comparable sales and listings in your neighbourhood. The estimates may not be completely accurate but offer a helpful starting point.
Hire an Estate Agent or Surveyor
For the most accurate valuation of your home’s worth, consider hiring a professional. High street estate agents will provide a free initial property appraisal. They will inspect your home in person and give you a market valuation based on their local experience and expertise. Some may charge a small fee but often waive this if you later list your home for sale with them. Alternatively, you can pay an independent chartered surveyor for a formal valuation report. Though this costs more, it provides an in-depth assessment accounting for all factors affecting your property’s value.
Check DIY Valuation Guides
There are guides online and in-home valuation books that talk you through step-by-step how to value your property yourself. These explain what aspects to measure and examine like floor space, condition and facilities. Based on this information, they provide formulas and tables to calculate an approximate price. While cheaper than professionals, the figures may be less accurate.
Consider Past Purchase Price
What you originally paid for your home and the year you bought it provides another reference point. Prices typically increase over time, so add around 3% per year to your purchase price for a very rough current value. However, neighbourhoods and property types rise at different speeds, so this shouldn’t replace other methods.
Key Considerations for Accurate Valuations
To ensure you get a realistic property valuation using any of these DIY methods, keep the following tips in mind
- Focus on comparing very similar properties and specifications – number of bedrooms, bathrooms, size, garden space etc. Adjust if your home is significantly different.
- Consider when nearby comparables were sold or listed. Recent sales or listings give the most up-to-date estimate compared to older ones.
- Factor in any major upgrades, renovations or new amenities you’ve added since buying your home that can increase its value.
- Likewise account for any damage, wear and tear or needed repairs that could negatively impact the price.
- Adjust valuation tools’ estimates up or down based on unique features, views, outdoor space and other variables not captured in the basic details entered.
- Location within a neighbourhood also matters – prices on a main road for instance tend to be lower than quieter streets.
- Consider local market conditions – buyers have more negotiating power in high-supply/low-demand markets to drive prices down.
- If unsure about the extent repairs or problems identified would affect value, get quotes from contractors to quantify possible price reductions.
- For a very approximate ballpark figure, the average price per square foot for similar local properties can be multiplied by your home’s floor area.
- The valuations provided are just estimates – selling prices depend on many factors and can only be determined accurately once a buyer has been secured.
Should You Get a Professional Valuation?
Attempting to value your property yourself using comparables and online tools can provide a helpful price range to give you an idea of your home’s worth on the open market. However, this should be seen as a starting point rather than an authoritative final figure. For the following reasons, it is advisable for most homeowners to also get a formal valuation from an estate agent or qualified surveyor before actually selling
- More accurate price Professionals have access to up-to-date sold price records not available to the public to benchmark your property against. They can factor in elements you may miss or struggle to quantify.
- Local expertise Agents especially have their finger on the pulse of market conditions in your area which affect value. Independent surveyors also have experience valuing many properties in your neighbourhood.
- Independently verified A third-party valuation avoids accusations that you have overvalued your home or set an unrealistic asking price.
- Evidence for lenders Mortgage providers often require a surveyor’s report to approve borrowing if you are moving and need a new loan.
- Alerts defects The survey highlights any repairs needed that you should consider doing to maximise your home’s value before listing it for sale.
- Peace of mind Having a thorough valuation report helps ensure you sell your property at the optimal market price and achieve as much equity as possible.
So while initial research to gauge value yourself is prudent, in most cases seeking professional advice is recommended before actually putting your property on the market.
How Professional Valuations Work
If you do decide to solicit a valuation from an estate agent or surveyor, here is an overview of the process and what to expect
Estate Agent Valuation
- Initial request is typically free and without obligation – you can request quotes from multiple agents.
- The agent will visit the property and assess its features, condition, marketability etc.
- You will be provided with a market valuation range – the likely selling price bracket.
- The agent may suggest an asking price to pitch your property at to attract interest. This is often towards the upper end of the range.
- Some agents charge a small fee for the appraisal if you don’t end up listing with them, so check first.
- More thorough but involves a survey fee – quotes are given upfront so you know the cost.
- Surveyor will inspect the property in detail over 1-2 hours, taking measurements and photographs.
- A comprehensive report was issued afterwards with valuation based on sales data, property details, local trends etc.
- Different survey levels are possible – standard valuation, homebuyer’s report or full structural survey. Costs rise accordingly.
- Get quotes from a few RICS-accredited surveyors before selecting one.
How Much Are Professional Valuations?
- Estate agent Initial appraisal is usually free, though some may charge around £150-£250.
- Surveyor £250-£500 for a basic valuation rising to £1000+ for a full structural survey.
- Location, property size, level of detail etc. impact surveyor costs. Get multiple quotes.
Overall, obtaining a professional property valuation is recommended to get the most accurate estimate of your home’s market value before selling. Paying a surveyor or agent for an appraisal typically provides peace of mind and ensures your asking price aligns with real buyer demand. While an initial self-valuation helps set expectations, in most cases formal input is advisable.
Factors That May Increase Your Home’s Value
If your initial estimated property valuation range seems lower than hoped, there are certain improvements you can make to potentially increase your home’s worth before putting it on the market
Giving your property a facelift with decorating can add value by presenting it in the best light to viewers. Important cosmetic upgrades include
- Repainting walls and ceilings in neutral, modern colours
- Polishing flooring and replacing any worn carpets or tiles
- Fixing cracks, dents and any damage that detracts from appearance
- Deep cleaning surfaces, grout and fittings to look new and fresh
- Decluttering and staging rooms to appear spacious, tidy and welcoming
Replacing any outdated fixtures and fittings with contemporary versions makes a home seem newer and more valuable
- Install integrated modern kitchen with updated appliances
- Replace old sanitaryware and bathroom suites with modern ones
- Switch dated radiators for more efficient ones and upgrade heating controls
- Install double-glazed windows for better insulation and noise reduction
- Improve storage with built-in wardrobes and under-stair cupboards
- Extra amenities in a property also boost desirability and price
- Convert the loft into an additional bedroom with a dormer window
- Add a conservatory or extend the ground floor living space
- Build an annexe, studio flat or garage to provide income potential
- Landscape the garden, build a deck, or patio, or install a hot tub
- Upgrade the driveway and install electric car charging points
Improving energy efficiency has become a priority for many buyers and can justify a higher price
- Install solar panels to reduce electricity bills
- Insulate walls and switch to double-glazing
- Upgrade appliances to more energy and water-efficient models
- Consider an air source heat pump for lower-emission heating
- Install smart heating controls and low-energy light bulbs
Even minor upgrades in these areas can potentially add thousands to your valuation. Get quotes in advance to ensure the increase in value exceeds your costs.
When to Get Your Property Valued
Timing your valuation strategically is almost as important as the amount it estimates your home to be worth. Here are tips on when best to get property appraised
Before Buying a Home
If you’re the potential purchaser, get any home you’re considering independently valued before agreeing on a price. This gives you a benchmark to assess if the asking price seems fair and reasonable or if there may be room to negotiate.
A new valuation helps ensure you get the maximum loan amount to capitalise on low rates. It also provides evidence for lenders of current value to approve your remortgage.
Before Making Upgrades
Getting a valuation before and after improvements quantifies how much value you have added. This avoids overspending on upgrades that may not increase property worth by as much as their cost.
Before Listing Your Home For Sale
An up-to-date valuation from agents and surveyors gets you the best sale price. It ensures your asking price aligns with genuine market demand rather than just guesswork.
During Booms or Slumps
When the market shifts significantly in either direction, a new valuation ensures you don’t under or overprice your home based on old market conditions.
Annually For Your Records
Even if you have no plans to move or remortgage, an annual valuation provides useful records of your growing equity over time.
When You Notice Nearby Sale Price Changes
If you see new developments in the area selling for very different prices to older estimates, it likely signals a shift in the market warranting an updated valuation.
Keeping on top of your property’s evolving worth at strategic times gives you the advantage of acting from a fully informed position regarding its current true market value.
Should I Trust Property Valuation Websites?
Online automated valuation tools provided by the likes of Rightmove and Zoopla offer a fast and free way to get an initial estimated price for your home. However, there are reliability issues to be aware of with these
- Don’t capture all unique features, conditions and renovations
- Struggle with atypical properties like conversions and listed buildings
- Lag rapidly rising or falling markets
- Location within the neighbourhood and micro-market changes not factored in
- Wide estimated ranges – not very precise or accurate
- Undervalue if keyed details incorrectly
- Overvalue if try to game the system and overstate inputs
- Use as a guide only alongside other evidence like recent local sales
- Adjust up or down based on the full picture of the property’s strengths and weaknesses
- Weigh different results from multiple sites to balance out biases
- Input details carefully and avoid exaggerating or misrepresenting attributes
- Re-value regularly to keep estimates up to date in shifting markets
Online valuation calculators offer a helpful starting point but should not replace professional in-person appraisals before making major decisions like selling your home. While these calculators can provide a rough estimate of how much your property is worth, there’s no substitute for an appraiser visiting your home, assessing its unique features and recent comps in the area to determine its true market value.
Use these automated tools conservatively alongside other methods to get the most accurate estimate of your property’s worth if you’re wondering “How much is my property worth?”