The clue is in the job title: when an estate agency valuer is asked to appraise a property, he or she knows that the question the owner really wants an answer to is ‘how much is my property worth?’ Extoling the virtues of the XYZ Estate Agency only postpones getting down to the nitty gritty. So how does the valuer go about valuing a property, and what factors influence the value?
To understand the process, we have to understand the exercise from the perspective of the valuer. The valuer wants to win the business. The temptation might be to over egg the valuation pudding, in the hope that the client might choose the estate agent who was most optimistic about the value. The seller, on the other hand, would be unusual if he or she was not hoping for a high valuation.
But let the seller beware! An over optimistic valuation might not be backed up by the surveyor doing the Home Report, leading to a sudden reality check. Worse, if the surveyor is similarly over optimistic, the property might get stuck on the market because the seller has an unrealistic valuation.
There is an adage in estate agency that if a property is not selling, it is either something the owner is saying to the viewers, or the property is overvalued. So, if you are trying to sell a property and it is not selling as easily as you expected, then unless you are telling the viewers that you are moving because next door’s teenager got a drum kit for Christmas, then you need to have a serious look at the value.
The information available on-line to the public about house prices, and the extensive database that solicitors have access to, mean that an over-priced property will be easily spotted, and a lack of offers may well be the result.
A good estate agent, of course, will not succumb to the temptation to overvalue. Our policy, for example, is to give an honest appraisal based on past sales evidence, and experience. We then factor in the overall appearance of the property. Does it seem well maintained? Is the property clean, tidy, uncluttered, and freshly decorated? Does it make an immediate good impression? The bottom line is this: do I get a good feeling about the property as I walk round? If the answer is yes, then the chances are there will be viewers, and interest. Interest may then allow the negotiator to fix a closing date, and closing dates can produce pleasantly high offers.
Finally, two bits of solid advice for action you can take before the valuer comes round. First: if there is any hint of mould of any variety or shade round the bath, back of the sink, or tiles, get the sealant replaced with the sparkling white variety, and the grout cleaned. Second: get a large box (or two if necessary) and place within it anything that might be described as a clutter item: the pile of DVDs by the telly; that old games console; the beer glass souvenir from your last holiday; the weird detritus that seems to gather on people’s bedside tables…….the pile of back issues of County Life; the multiple nasty old footwear by the door…..Now, place this box (or boxes) somewhere where it cannot be seen. The boot of the car if necessary.
These simple measures will engender a feeling of wellbeing in your valuer, and, more importantly, your viewers, which may well translate in to nice high offers at a closing date.
David Howat, July, 2016