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When you’re going to put your property up for sale, you’ll want to know approximately how much you can expect to get for it.
There are lots of different websites available to help you look for valuations. But it’s not easy to be accurate because across the UK, every home has its own perceived value. However, the perceived value held by you as the seller is not necessarily going to be the same as a potential buyer’s perceived valuation. Naturally, you see the good points of your property. A potential buyer will be looking for the bad points. The true value of a house depends on a great many factors, such as location, size, condition, potential, proximity to amenities, parking facilities and so on.
There are five major influencers to a valuation. These are (in no particular order):
When you’re buying a house, condition will play a major role and people are likely to pay more for one that appears to be in a better condition than a neighbouring property that needs some TLC and tidying up. Often, if a buyer can’t picture themselves living in a property, their offer will be lower. Not putting in the time and effort into staging your house for viewings will put you at a distinct disadvantage.
In a similar way to condition, any upgrades you’ve made to your home will naturally affect its value. A useful extension or a top of the range modern kitchen would add a lot to the value of a home. Equally, a landscaped garden that utilises the space available could command a premium.
Accuracy is vital and there are times when property data is incorrect. For example, an office room may not have been classed as a bedroom and mistakes will influence the overall estimate.
It’s not often that every property on one street is the same as those surrounding it. There could be bungalows next to semi-detached houses, or flats above shops. All of these will have a different appeal and command their own price.
Ultimately the true value of your home is what a buyer is willing to pay for it at that particular time. This is generally worked out by comparing your property with other properties on the market, taking into account what they are charging and what additional features your home offers. For example, perhaps you have more parking than your neighbours, a garage, more land, a downstairs toilet, or an extension.
Despite the term being used a lot, It’s not a valuation. It’s a market appraisal. Most sellers – and estate agents – make the mistake of calling the pricing process a ‘valuation’ whereas what an estate agent or a cash buyer will give you is a market appraisal. This is an indication of the price your property is likely to achieve in the current market.
The truth is that no one knows what your home is really worth. Some valuers will have an idea and some of them will be as accurate as they possibly can, but, in the end, every valuation you get is an estimate. It’s not an exact science. It’s an opinion and a guideline based on different bits of supporting evidence and market experience. The valuer gives you a range that you could possibly achieve if you were to put your property on the market at that particular time.
An actual valuation is produced from a formal survey, normally carried out by a chartered surveyor. It can be used where a property’s value is required in probate, divorce, mortgage, remortgage, loans, and bankruptcy. Chartered surveyors have professional qualifications to do what they do, and they are regulated by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.
Still, understanding pricing is to understand how to sell your house. Having the wrong price will negatively affect your sale from the very start. Too many homeowners settle on what their emotions say their home is worth (letting their heart rule their head),or they set their price above the prevailing market rates; only to have to drop it later.
What you must remember is that buyers are not fools. They will undertake their own research and they will of course have their own limits on spending.
Keeping everything in mind that has been mentioned, you’re probably now wondering how you can get a valuation; or as mentioned, a market appraisal (to be more precise).
The only real way is to use a property professional. And for that matter, you’ll want to invite a few so that you have a range of figures. This way, you’ll have a person that understands the market, the area, and can look at your home through a buyers’ eyes. Here’s how you could get a more realistic market appraisal for your property:
Inviting a few estate agents to your property to provide their opinion on the price point at which you should market your property will mean you’re benefitting from their local knowledge and experience of what the market is demanding. They could have their own interests at heart and submit a valuation that is higher than you’re expecting. Remember that this isn’t a promise of the amount you’ll receive and if your house is on the market for too long, potential buyers will wonder why, and likely assume that there’s something wrong with it. If you do have professional agents assessing the market value of your home, you’d be wise to get several valuations and then assess by how much they vary.
The best way to get a true valuation on your home is to use a chartered surveyor. This can cost a lot of money; sometimes as much as £800. However, what you’ll get is an accurate valuation of your property because a chartered surveyor will carefully assess the condition of your property and use their knowledge of your area.
Doing your own research will enable you to take into account what has been done to your property and the improvements you’ve made, as well as its overall condition. Take a look at the price for which properties actually sold by using Rightmove. This will tell you how much was paid; rather than the asking price. Armed with this information, you can gauge where to price your property. Furthermore, Nationwide has a house price calculator tool that can calculate the growth of house prices in your area to give you an indicative figure.
Remember though that both you (the seller) and the buyer are looking online for prices so that you can find average selling prices. One of the most popular websites to search for valuations is Zoopla. Look at this handy guide to Zoopla Estimates for more information.
Another site that’s used is called Mouseprice. Mouseprice.com launched in 2004 and was acquired by PropertyHeads Group in 2020. PropertyHeads Group Limited was founded in 2018 and claims to be the first major property site to ‘champion homeowner reviews’, and ‘the first to actively promote buy and rent combined search and price per square metre to help users compare properties on a like-for-like basis.’
Mouseprice also claims to be ‘the leading source of UK property market information online.’ They say: “Through the provision of comprehensive and up-to-date housing data, we aim to create a more transparent and thus fairer property market.” They offer ‘a range of tools to assist surveyors and other professional users in accessing our property data’ and states that ‘our products are used by a range of different organisations, from government institutions, to mortgage lenders, through to surveyors, and a host of other property professionals’. Furthermore, they suggest that ‘Mouseprice is currently the UK’s most visited website for valuation and house price related information.’
It’s therefore disappointing to learn that Mouseprice’s work is not well received by its customers.
On Trustpilot, the company scores 1.7 out of 5 from 66 reviews, with 91% rating them as ‘Bad’ and just 5% rating them as ‘Excellent’. Comments on Trustpilot include: “How is the Mouseprice algorithm still so far out, it used to be spot on. A company that clearly isn’t listening to feedback as this has been an issue for quite some time.” as well as: “Property values are well below what they should be on Mouseprice. This site needs taking down. They do not answer emails and the information they are putting out for anyone to see on the web is completely false, you should be made accountable for the values you are advertising of people’s properties.”
Another comment, by ‘Mark’ reads: “My house, according to Mouseprice, is worth no more than I bought it for nearly 20 years ago. Zoopla thinks it has more than doubled in price. That’s a difference between them of over £340,000. I thought Zoopla was a bit low, but they don’t know about the improvements. Mouseprice is just a joke, it’s so far out it casts doubt upon the credibility of the whole site. Update Nov 2021, the difference is now £435,000, they think my house is worth less than 20 years ago. Update Dec 2021, my house has shot up in value by over £500,000 in a month – is Mouseprice just a random number generator? Update Mar 2022, my house valuation has now fallen by £300,000, from over £800,000 in December to £550,000 now – this is nuts.”
Other comments are similar; all giving just one star and commenting: “Very misleading information about my property. This site is no good”, “The data on Mouseprice appears to be widely inaccurate. Apparently, our property value has gone down by £100,000 compared to a year ago, we have somehow gained two extra bedrooms and our square footage has decreased by 50%. Very annoying when you are looking to sell a property, it will give potential buyers a misleading viewpoint.”
It would appear from the independent testimonials that Mouseprice is not an accurate reflection of house prices, and the data can be inaccurate too.
Importantly, Mouseprice estimates do not include additional work that has been undertaken and is yet to be recorded, such as extensions. The data on Mouseprice – whilst updated each month – is typically updated from Land Registry’s price paid dataset towards the end of every month. Also, if there are no comparable sold prices in the locality, Mouseprice’s valuations are going to be incorrect due to it using an Automated Valuation Model (AVM) – a computer calculation – rather than a human that can assess the market and desirability of a specific property.
On Mouseprice’s website, they post a disclaimer that reads: “Whilst all reasonable effort is made to ensure the information in this publication is current, Mouseprice does not warrant the accuracy or completeness (including reliability, currency or suitability) of the data and information contained on this page, and accepts no liability (including without limitation, liability in negligence) for any loss or damage or costs (including consequential damage) arising in connection with the data and information contained on this page.”
To test the site, we used the postcode of a three-bedroom house in Worcestershire. First signs were not good as it had the property listed as a terraced house when it’s a semi-detached house. Upon investigating this, there was another disclaimer that read: “Some attributes were unavailable for this property, but we have filled in the blanks with our derived attribute technology based on highly comparable properties nearby. Our method is proven to have 95% accuracy in recent tests, however if this is your property and you’d like to make a correction, please get in touch.” The other details were correct; albeit vague (‘This property was built between 1900-1929’). The end result was a statement: “Our current valuation of this property is £206,000 with high confidence.”
By way of comparison for how this figure fares, we used Zoopla to find a valuation for the same property. Zoopla provided an estimated price of £210,000 and a target range of £199,000 to £220,000.
In the interests of fairness, a third site was used. Varbes was founded in 2020 and claims to ‘produce up-to-date UK area insights covering everything from house prices to demographics, and interactive calculators that support smart financial planning.’ For the same property used on Mouseprice and Zoopla, Varbes gives an estimated value of £212,000, plus or minus £13,000. That put it in the same area as Zoopla and not far from Mouseprice’s estimate.
Here’s a summary of the figures obtained for the three-bedroom semi-detached house in Worcestershire:
|Website used||Estimated value||Range|
|Zoopla||£210,000||£199,000 to £220,000|
|Varbes||£212,000||£199,000 to £225,000|
The decision, of course, is yours. Mouseprice can be used as a guide to property values, but you may prefer to use property sale comparable information instead, or a human.
In fact, as MoneySavingExpert says: “Take instant valuations with a pinch of salt. Never rely on the figures given – treat it as a fun investigation, rather than anything more.” They also add that “asking prices are often wildly optimistic, showing what the seller wants for the property, not what they’ll get.” That’s why, as previously mentioned, it’s great to look at Rightmove where you’ll be able to see the properties that have been sold on your road, and the price they achieved. The only downside to this is that the data may be out of date in that it doesn’t reflect current market conditions if the property you’re viewing (assuming it’s identical to yours in every way) sold over a month ago.
Having your property valued by a regional expert who knows the prices from recent sales – as well as current market conditions and what you can realistically expect to achieve – is the only way to be certain that your price is correct.
Truth is that when we talk about valuations and market appraisals, it’s because we want to know the ‘asking price’ for a property. However, an asking price only applies if you’re selling your property on the open market. And when you choose that route, you’ll have to take into account the cost of paying agent fees and legal fees, as well as the invasion of your privacy when people come for house viewings.
If you choose to sell to a cash buying company, you won’t have people walking through your property pointing out the cracks and dated décor. You won’t have a ‘for sale’ sign in front of your home to alert the neighbours that they can go online to have a virtual snoop around. What you will get is a hassle-free sale when you choose a reputable company, as well as their property expert to provide you with a free, no-obligation market appraisal.
The price they offer is likely to be around 80% of your property’s true market value, but that is to take account of the solicitor and agent fees that you won’t have to pay, the renovation work undertaken by the company to get it re-sold, and the convenience of selling to a buyer that isn’t in a chain and isn’t using a mortgage, thus giving you a hassle-free and straightforward house sale.
Companies that buy houses will buy your house fast for cash, usually within 30 days, with most completing the sale within seven days. When you contact these house buying companies, they’ll ask for your details and those of the property, after which they’ll have a valuation. They’ll then give you an offer. If you accept the offer, they will process the payment and you should receive funds in your account within a few days. This means you don’t have to worry about being in a chain or chasing up an estate agent. It also means you know exactly how much you’ll receive and, because you’re not paying any commission or fees, it’ll be easy to calculate how much you’ll have available to buy your next home.
For your own security, check that the company is a member of the National Association of Property Buyers (NAPB) and The Property Ombudsman. This will give you independent help if there’s a dispute and also means that they have to abide by a code of conduct.
Also, get everything in writing, for extra peace of mind. By doing that, you can recheck any details and you’ll have evidence of the price that was offered to you for your property. And on that topic, make sure that the offer they give you for your property is fixed. It’s not uncommon for some less scrupulous companies to reduce their offer at the last minute, leaving you with little choice but to accept.
The amount that a fast sale company will offer to you for your property will depend upon the company. Some of the most reliable cash buying companies will use independent valuations to decide on a figure and show you the evidence that has enabled them to decide on that number.
Meanwhile, other companies may not use such respected methods and instead flatter you with a higher offer on the phone; only to reduce it when they visit your property. It’s essential to ensure that the valuation you get is a ‘no obligation’ valuation; meaning you’re not forced to sell to that company just because they visited and valued it.
If you’re considering a cash buyer, you must be aware of two points.
Firstly, there’s little regulation in this industry so it’s a haven for scammers. Anyone can set themselves up a business and say they’re a cash buyer. However, that doesn’t mean they have cash or that they’re competent. It’s up to you to do your due diligence and check where their money comes from, what experience they have, the price they offer and everything else.
Secondly, cash buyers are a business and like any business, their aim is to make a profit. Some cash buyers are sniffing around for what they call ‘the three D’s’; divorce, death and debt. These three situations generate the most emotion, making sellers more desperate and weaker in negotiations.
Remember too that there are some ‘one man bands’ that pretend to be cash buying companies. The risk you face with these are only having one person to deal with enquiries, viewings, and completions; instead of a team dedicated to each stage as you’d get with the larger cash buying companies. Also, if you are dealing with a ‘one man band’, there’s a risk that they won’t have the money they’re offering to you. If they do have the funds, it could be that they’re sorting out a bank loan or mortgage. At the very worst, they may not have any capital and are trying to exploit homeowners that are trying to quickly release some equity. Wading through all of this takes time and holds up your sale; not what you need when you want a quick and stress-free sale.
Whether you choose to sell with an estate agent or a cash buyer, you’ll receive the money from your house sale after the process ‘completes’. This is the day that the keys are exchanged, and the buyer is now the official owner of your property. When the buyer’s conveyancer has sent over the money to your conveyancer, they will pay all the necessary fees due, and then send over the remaining amount to your bank account. Using a cash buyer is just like an estate agent sale in that respect, but it’s quicker and there’s less chance of a sale falling through
We hope that this article has answered any questions you have about the accuracy of Mouseprice estimates. If the idea of a quick, hassle-free cash sale sounds appealing and you’d like to chat with us about a fast cash sale, our property experts are available 24/7.
Send an email or call us for more information.