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House valuation – find out what your home is worth

Whether you're buying or selling a home, or even if you're just curious, understanding a valuation can be an important tool when venturing into the property market.
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What is a house valuation?

A house valuation will tell you everything you need to know about the property and how much it could be 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 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 home buying, home selling, or remortgage decision on.

What is a mortgage valuation?

All lenders will carry out a mortgage valuation, also known as a valuation survey during the mortgage or remortgage application process. This is to ensure that the property you are buying (or remortgaging) is equal to the value you want to borrow, or that the value you’ve stated is accurate, in the case of a remortgage.

This is really to benefit the lender, rather than the home buyer, so it’s a good idea to do your own research and use a proper property survey to ensure that the property is in good structural condition.

What is a down valuation?

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.

What you can do after a property has been down valued

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 believes it is 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. 

When else would you need to get a property valuation?

Whether you want your own home valued to decide if now is a good time to sell, to get a better sense of how much equity you might have in your home to get another loan or remortgage, 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 nationally, or in your local area

Who can give you an accurate house valuation?

Chartered surveyors typically provide the most accurate house valuations, as they have specialist knowledge in carrying out building surveys, but also offer an unbiased opinion about the quality and value of any property you wish to buy or sell. 

If you're only speculatively looking at home costs, any websites that get 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.

How much does a house valuation cost?

The average cost is upwards of £300 with an independent chartered surveyor and should be considered when calculating the costs involved in buying a home.

Mortgage lenders will also give a valuation based on what they think any property you are buying or selling is worth, and this usually costs an additional £100 or so, on top of your mortgage costs. 

What’s the difference between a valuation and a survey?

A valuation is a type of property survey that gives an estimate of what the property is worth. It’s also known as a homebuyers survey. You can also get far more detailed surveys, for example, a full structural survey, which is known as a ‘level 3 survey’. 

A level 3 survey is recommended if you live in 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. 

Any survey should be carried out by a surveyor who is a member of theRoyal 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

How much does a RICS valuation cost?

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 will look at the finer details of a property, such as:

  • Property location

  • Building structure and condition

  • Property features

  • Encumbrances on the property

  • Local government zoning

  • Additional property features in rural areas

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Can you get a valuation for free?

There are a number of free online house valuation tools you can use to assess how much a home is worth. However, free online house valuations 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 this type of estimate. 

How do property websites calculate property prices?

Some websites allow you to simply enter a postcode for a free valuation. They use data from the Land Registry to show you much the home sold for, but can also tell you what it is worth now based on an estimate. They typically give you a wide ballpark figure, rather than a tailored valuation.

If you want to see how much your home might be worth, there are several online tools to provide a simple guide based on fluctuating house values in each UK region.

Of course, this method won’t factor in any improvements made to the property in question, or the general state of the property, as they simply focus on a region.

How accurate will property website valuations be?

Some websites will try to forecast house price rises and crashes. It's worth having a look through to see what the risk might be like for home buyers or home sellers.

However, many of these websites are interpreting available data and current affairs – it does not mean what they forecast will happen.

What should I look for when doing an online search for house valuations?

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 the purchase history. By seeing what those properties have sold for recently, you can get 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. You can also see what kind of crime is most prevalent.

In more rural or coastal locations, the Environment Agency website, will show 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:

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.

How to get a house valued for a remortgage

Remortgaging could save you money on your current mortgage by securing you a cheaper interest rate. If the value of your home has risen since you bought it, the loan to value (LTV) ratio of your borrowing will have fallen, which means that you should have access to better interest rates than when you originally took out the mortgage.

Tips for a successful estate agent valuation when listing your home for sale

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

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