How does an estate agent value your property?
The first stage of selling your home is usually the valuation.
But what does an agent do when valuing your home? What makes your house worth more (or less) than its neighbours?
And most importantly, what can you do to add extra value to your property?
Let’s find out.
What is a property valuation?
During a property valuation, an estate agent will come to your property and decide on its market value. They will take various things into account and decide on a value they believe will give it the best chance of selling, while giving you a fair price.
Is a property valuation the same as a home survey?
The property valuation differs from the home survey, as it's a much more detailed check of the house by a registered surveyor, which the buyer will arrange after you've accepted their offer.
It’s also not to be confused with the mortgage lender’s valuation, which is also arranged on the buyer’s end in order to confirm the property is worth what they’re lending the buyer.
What happens during a property valuation?
The property valuation begins before the agent even visits. Usually, the valuer will be an experienced local agent who knows the local property market inside out, so they’ll be able to ascertain some information about your house’s value from the postcode alone.
On the day itself, the agent will attend your property in person. It won’t be a long visit – probably no longer than half an hour. During this time, the agent will take a look around and may take some measurements and photographs. This could be to determine the exact room size, ceiling height or record special features or alterations like original floor tiles or conservatories.
The agent might give you a verbal estimate there and then, although sometimes they confirm it a day or so later in writing.
What makes a house worth more?
Not all properties are created equal. The following aspects will work in your house or flat’s favour.
It goes without saying that larger and more spacious properties are advantageous over poky, cramped ones. Of course – size isn't everything – many other factors influence a house's value. However, as a general rule, a bigger house is worth more than a smaller one of similar specifications in the same area.
You’ve heard the cliché – location, location, location. Location really is a huge selling point when it comes to property – which is why a 7 square metre ‘microflat’ was sold by auction in London for £90,000 in early 2022 – that’s nearly £13k per square metre.
It’s not just about properties in the capital, though. Wherever your property is situated in the UK – if it’s in a sought-after spot, the valuation will reflect that.
The land the property stands on will also be a factor in its value, and the agent will consider the plot size in their valuation. If there’s room to build another dwelling in the garden, with space to spare, you’re looking at a serious hike in value.
If you're selling a leasehold flat, the length of the lease is important. Long leases can be up to 999 years, which for obvious reasons, will work out far better for potential buyers than a lease with just a decade left.
It isn’t quite as impactful on value as the property size, but the layout makes a difference. A space divided up into lots of small, awkward-sized rooms without much natural light won’t appeal to buyers as much as an open-plan space of equal size with large windows.
Similarly, any scope for a loft conversion or Dorma windows (your agent will have an idea if similar houses in the area have received planning permission for these) will be looked on favourably.
What state is your property in? Rotting window frames, damp, cracked walls and years of ingrained dirt won’t do your house’s value any favours. As a rule of thumb, anything that will cost the new owners significant money to bring up to scratch will cause the property’s value to plummet.
This won't come as a surprise, but the area is a significant factor affecting property value. Things like regeneration and development, good transport links, low crime, and amenities like parks, shops and excellent schools will all see a property’s value zooming up.
Believe it or not, storage can add value to an otherwise unremarkable property. A house without decent storage (for example, a smaller new-build) will create practical problems for the buyer, and agents know this. Under-stairs spaces, pantries, utility rooms, attics, basements, spacious built-in wardrobes and laundry cupboards are like gold dust these days.
What can you do if you’re not happy with the valuation?
If you’re not happy with the outcome of your valuation, don’t despair.
Nothing is stopping you from getting several different valuations from different agents. You can then choose the agent that gives you the valuation you’re happy with.
However, beware of valuations which seem too high. It could be a tactic to get your business, and they could plan on dropping the asking price after your property has been on the market for a few weeks.
Try to be realistic and consider properties of a similar spec which have sold in your area in the last six months.
How to make your house worth more?
You can do a few things to ensure you get the best outcome possible during your property valuation. This isn't about trying to mislead agents, but rather about showcasing your property and highlighting its best features.
You could consider the following:
First impressions count
Your house’s frontage will be the first thing your agent sees. If your front garden or doorstep is covered in weeds, the letterbox is crammed with takeaway leaflets and there’s a broken bicycle in the hallway, it won’t exactly spell high value.
Clear the clutter
Agents aren't supposed to be influenced by the contents of your home, but they're only human. Piles of clutter will get in the way of showing your house at its best.
Paint it white
You want your house to appear as a blank canvas. You may have liked those dark purple walls once, but if they’re absorbing light inside an already boxy bedroom, consider painting them white so the space can show its potential to the valuer.
Ditch old carpets
Shabby, dated or dirty carpets can make a property seem downright unappealing. This can be risky if you don’t know what lies beneath, but if you’ve got a period property, you might be lucky enough to find original floorboards underneath. Otherwise, investing in a new carpet or large rugs in a neutral colour will make your home seem clean, fresh and contemporary.
Consider an alteration
With the right planning permission in place, additions like conservatories or a new kitchen or bathroom suites can add significant value to a home. This obviously isn’t something you can do if you’ve already booked your valuation, but if you’re just starting to think about selling your home, have the budget and are serious about getting the highest possible price, upgrading suites and adding living space can really pay off.