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How Much is My House Worth? (Pt.1)

[All articles are updated quarterly by our researches][About Us]
RESOURCES - How Much is Your House Worth:
When asked, "How much is my house worth?" many estate agents will over or undervalue your property for their own gain - here's proof of poor valuations!
Because of this we've created a simple step-by-step guide to residential property valuation. It's quick and easy to follow and will protect you from dishonest estate agents.
Part 1 of this guide will show you:
  • How to get a feel your local market
  • How to find out what's sold recently (and at what price)
  • How to find out what's currently for sale
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How Much is My House Worth? - The Basics

First of all I'd like to shatter a few commonly held misconceptions and highlight that how much your house is worth has nothing to do with:

  • How much you paid for your house.
  • How much money you've spent on your house.
  • How much you'd like to sell your house for.

Instead you need to focus on this one truth:

"Your house is worth what a buyer is prepared to pay for it (just so long as your buyer's mortgage lender agrees)"

In turn, 3 things decide what a buyer is prepared to pay for your house:

  1. What similar properties to yours recently sold for?
  2. What price similar properties to yours are currently being advertised for sale at?
  3. The current state of the property market.

No matter what anyone tells you, the truth is, until your house is sold nobody can guarantee what price your house will sell for.

"The best anyone can do is make use of the information available and take an educated guess at what buyers would be prepared to pay"

How Much is My House Worth? - Step #1

How to get a feel for the market:

In the days before the Internet this used to be pretty difficult.

Estate Agents held a monopoly over vital information such as:

  • What houses actually sold for.
  • How long it was taking to find a buyer.
  • Whether the market was getting stronger or weaker.
  • What percentage of the asking price houses were selling for.

Things have changed and these days its quick and easy to uncover the information that helps you take control of your sale.

You no longer have to be at the mercy of Estate Agents so make use of the following information sources:

Hometrack are an independent property market research company. They are also the UK's leading AVM (Automatic Valuation Model) provider.

An AVM is basically a computerised property valuation tool that's used a lot in the remortgage industry.

By going to their website and entering some basic information you can:

  1. Find out what percentage of their asking price UK sellers have really been achieving.
  2. Knowing this will help you to decide whether a buyer's offer is any good.

  3. Find out how long it should take you to sell (in weeks and number of viewings).
  4. This will help you to decide if your house is over or undervalued.

    If you're taking longer than the average time it takes other sellers to find a buyer, you're probably asking too much money.

    On the other hand, if you start receiving offers at your full asking price straight away, you're probably not asking enough for your house.

  5. Find out what house prices have been doing month by month in your area, for your type of property.
  6. Most sellers don't bother to get hold of these facts. They blindly just rely on what it suites their estate agent to tell them.

It's definitely worth taking a look at the free information their site provides but it's up to you as to whether you buy the Online Valuation and Market report.

If you have £20 to spare, you'll find it interesting (but not essential reading.

If your property is in an urban area and of a common type, the report can be frighteningly accurate.

If your property is in a rural location and individual in nature, it's a lot harder for an AVM to provide an accurate valuation.

The Land Registry is the government department responsible for maintaining the Land Registry of England & Wales.

Their main job is to register title to land (they've registered about 20 million titles so far).

More interesting for us is that they record the results of all residential property sales.

Through the Land Registry you can find out the actual price someone paid for any house sold in England & Wales since April 2000.

You can now find out exactly what buyers paid for property in your street.

This is one of the best indicators of how much your house is worth and how much it will sell for.

As we'll see later, asking prices are also useful to know but at the end of the day they're only an indication of what sellers hope to get - Sold prices are what buyers are prepared to pay!

This information dates quickly and the more recently a house sold, the more relevant that price is to your sale.

Any sales older than 6 months are pretty useless.

Unfortunately, the Land Registry only make sold prices available 3 months after a sale has taken place.

In a fast moving market even 3 months is a long time.

In this situation it's best to take any sold prices you find with a pinch of salt. The information is still useful as a guide though.

Lots of websites give direct access to the Land Registry Data. Here's a list of the best sites with their costs:

  • The Land Registry - £2 per search
  • Net House Prices - Free service + no registration required
  • Mouse Prices - Free service + no registration required
  • Our Property - Free service + you can register and they will send you free updates of all new local sales - very handy!
  • Rightmove - Free service + registration
  • Hometrack - Free service + no registration + it has a really useful map facility that shows sold price data for neighbouring roads.

Rightmove is basically the UK's largest shop window for property.

As an advertising medium they are unsurpassed with over half of all Estate Agents listing the property they sell there.

80% of all buyers search Rightmove to find their new home and as such it has become the most effective way to find buyers and has revolutionised the marketing of UK property.

On Rightmove you'll find out what competition looks like i.e. all the property for sale in your area.

Rightmove and other property portals make comparing the relative price and merits of property a simple and fast desk-based task.

Because of this, you really need to price your house competitively. Otherwise buyers simply won't be interested and you will struggle to sell quickly.

When you get on Rightmove, here's what you do:

  1. Search for similar property to yours on sale in your area.
  2. The industry phrase is searching for "comps" (comparables).

    Find all the property you'd go look at if buying your house all over again.

  3. Print out the details, study them carefully and keep them safe (they will come in handy when the Estate Agents come round).

Your "comps" should all fall neatly into a nice tight price range. However, there will be one or two properties that look like "comps" but priced much higher or lower than the rest.

There is always a reason for this!

It's usually that a seller is simply asking too much money or that there is something fundamentally wrong with the property.

Put these "freak comps" to one side because they will give you a false impression of what your house is worth.

You can always quiz the estate agents that come to value your property a little later.

Here are the top reasons a buyer would pay more for a house (that at first glance looks similar to yours):

  • It's in a better location
  • It has garage or off-street parking
  • It has private outdoor space (especially if it's a large south-facing garden)
  • Has an en-suite bathroom
  • Has double bedrooms (min size 2.7 x 2.7m)
  • Has a conservatory that blends with the existing building
  • Detached is better than Semi-Detached which is better than End of Terrace, which is better than Mid-Terraced.
  • Has newly fitted bathrooms or kitchens
  • Has a large kitchen you can eat in
  • Is newly decorated throughout tastefully
  • Has period features
  • Is well maintained
  • Has double glazing that compliments the style of the house (E.g. Not UPV on a period property)
  • Has an alarm system
  • Has a healthy amount of time left on the lease (more than 60 years)
  • Has a superior outlook (i.e. Over green space as opposed to a road, railway or eye-sore)

You don't need to know exactly how much extra value these would add.

You just need to be critical, objective and realistic about why your competition could command a higher (or lower) price tag to your own house.

How Much is My House Worth - Taking it Further!

If you've followed so far, you should have an excellent idea of:

  1. The state of your local market
  2. What your competition looks like
  3. How much buyers would expect to pay for your property

No estate agent is going to pull the wool over your eyes with a dodgy valuation.

Before we move over to Part 2 of this guide there's one more research tips we'd like to share with you:

"Pretend to be a buyer and go snoop around your competition"

Looking online at property is good but it can't compare to actually experiencing your competition first-hand.

Right, that's it! Part 1 of this guide is finished!!

Lets now move on to How Much is My House Worth? (Pt 2) where you'll learn how to get a reliable valuation out of estate agents (whether they like it or not).

RESOURCES - How Much is Your House Worth:

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