A house valuation tells you how much a property is currently worth. They are carried out by chartered surveyors, who specialise in looking at property structure, purpose and value.
If you're buying, home valuations can give you a better sense of whether you're getting a good deal or not. If you're selling, they can help you to understand what price you could get for your property.
Depending on where you get your home valuation from, the report you receive should be accurate enough for you to base your buying, selling, or remortgage decision on.
All lenders arrange to have a mortgage valuation, also known as a valuation survey, carried out during the mortgage or remortgage application process. This is to ensure that the property you're buying is worth the value you want to borrow. If you're remortgaging, it's to check that the level of equity held is accurate.
Getting a house valued as part of the application process is really to benefit the lender, rather than the home buyer. It's also a good idea to do your own research and arrange an independent property valuation, as well as a more substantial survey, to ensure that the property is in good structural condition.
The average cost of getting a house valued independently is upwards of £300 with an independent chartered surveyor and should be considered when calculating the costs involved in buying a home.
The mortgage valuation usually costs an additional £100 or so, although some lenders do offer free valuations as an incentive to borrow with them.
When the surveyor carrying out the mortgage valuation agrees with the purchase price or remortgage price for the property, your lender is likely to make an offer of or very similar to that value.
If, however, the surveyor doesn’t feel that a property is worth the asking price or the remortgage price, you can be given what’s known as a ‘down valuation'.
This could lead to the mortgage lender changing the loan amount offered, or even withdrawing their offer, in extreme cases.
This can sometimes happen in areas where house prices are falling more quickly than they are generally, making the actual market value difficult to establish.
The best thing to do in this scenario is to try to renegotiate the sale price with the seller. A surveyor report showing that the property is not worth what the seller is asking will make it difficult for them to get the offer they are hoping for from another buyer, so it can be a useful tool.
You could also try to challenge the valuation, however, this would be dependent on the lender considering your reasoning, and having solid evidence that the valuation is incorrect.
If you’re still unable to get the outcome you need in order to afford the home, you could either look at accepting the reduced loan and trying to find a way to make up the difference in value, or look at other lenders who use different surveyors.
Whether you want your home valued to decide if now is a good time to sell, or to figure out how much equity you have, or you want another property valued to see if it’s worth buying, a valuation will help guide your decision making process.
You may also consider a valuation if:
You’ve had renovation works done to your property, such as adding an extension or loft conversion
You believe the value of your home has increased significantly since it was last valued due to a general rise in property prices, either nationally or in your local area
Chartered surveyors typically provide the most accurate house valuations. They have specialist knowledge, but also offer an unbiased opinion about the quality and value of a property.
If you're only speculatively looking at home costs, anyone that gets their data from the Land Registry, such as estate agents, will provide you with a rough estimation of local property prices. However, as Land Registry data is not frequently updated, what you see in the moment may not be entirely accurate.
A valuation is a type of survey that is purely intended to give an estimate of what a property is worth. This is also sometimes known as a home buyers survey. There are also far more detailed surveys, which is what the term 'survey' would typically be referring to in the context of a mortgage application.
A full structural survey (level 3 survey), for example, is recommended if you live in, or are buying an older property, listed building, or one that has particularly unusual features. It’s also a good idea to have a full structural survey if you plan to do any major building work to your home.
Ensure your surveyor is a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) whenever you need to:
Apply for a mortgage, loan or insurance
Participate in a property settlement after divorce etc
Establish the value of an estate after someone has passed away
It depends on the size and type of the property, but you should expect to pay around £500 for a standard property and upwards of £1000 for more complex properties.
A RICS surveyor looks at the finer details of a property, such as the:
Structure and condition
Encumbrances on the property
Local government zoning
Additional rural features
There are a number of free online house valuation tools you can use to assess how much a home is worth. However, they are unlikely to be completely accurate and should only be used as a guide.
It’s not recommended that you base your decision to buy or sell solely on a free house valuation.
Free valuation websites use data from the Land Registry to show what the home most recently sold for, but can also tell you what it's now worth based on an estimate. They typically provide an approximate figure, rather than a tailored valuation.
Some websites try to forecast house price rises and crashes. It's worth having a look through to try to gauge the risk involved in buying in a certain area, but many of these websites are simply interpreting available data – so what they forecast won't necessarily happen.
If you want a decent sense of home values in a particular area or street, online home listings websites like Zoopla have sections that focus on purchase history. Looking at what properties have sold for recently can give you a better idea of what they might sell for in future.
You should also look into how negative factors can affect the value of the home you want to buy or sell. The national website for policing in the UK shows crime figures for a particular street or neighbourhood.
In more rural or coastal locations, the Environment Agency website, shows which areas of the UK are at greatest risk from flooding or air pollution.
You might also want to check out local schools in an area to get a good gauge of the local area. You can do this by looking at:
The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) in England
The Educational Training Inspectorate in Northern Ireland
Education Scotland in Scotland
The Care Inspectorate Wales in Wales
A combination of all of the above valuation tools will give you an idea of what you need to know about the area, but not enough to make a decision on a specific property. It's always best to get a professional home valuation from a surveyor before you do so.
If you’re selling your property there are a few things you can do to help get the best possible estate agent valuation:
Ask multiple estate agents to provide an estimated value of your home, but don’t always assume the highest valuation is correct
Highlight any features that may not be immediately visible when they visit your property, such as loft rooms or smart home features
Maximise the appeal of your home before the valuation; tidy up, redecorate and get rid of clutter
Improve the outward appearance of your home, such as the front door and windows, as well as any surrounding garden