Many people make the major mistake of determining the value of their property by looking at “properties for sale” in the local estate agents or newspaper. These prices do not give a true reflection of actual property values as they only refer to the asking price for a property; you need to have before you a list of “sold property prices” and then you will have a much more realistic idea of what your property might really be worth. Let me explain why!
Have you ever gone into a car showroom, a furniture shop or even attended an auction in order to buy a particular product? You will see price tags attached to all items but in reality, these refer to the “recommended” retail or selling price. Inevitably, you are going to haggle – particularly when buying a car. If it is a new car, you will try to see what extras you will be able to have included within the deal; you will try and negotiate a special finance package, indeed you will try anything to achieve more value for your money. If it is a second hand car you want to purchase, then you are going to search for any little scratch on the bodywork; discolouring to the upholstery inside, even something that might be remotely wrong with the engine or an unusually high mileage. The game is still the same; you want to purchase the car for the smallest amount you can whilst the salesman wants to sell it to you for the highest amount he can. After all, the higher the sale price, then the higher his commission!
It is the same with a property. It will be advertised with a price that is really the “asking price” and may not be the price that the vendor will eventually accept in order the secure a deal. It therefore follows that in order to answer the question “how much is my property worth?” you need to be able to find out the actual selling price of similar properties in your area.
When I want to buy something from eBay, which many of us do so these days, I will look for similar items that are advertised. I then identify the sellers of the item and look into their sales record to ascertain the actual selling price they achieved for the item by examining their “sold items” list. The same applies to selling a house – find out and use the actual sold prices of similar properties and not the advertised one.
So the next question is, where and how do you find out selling prices in your area? There are a number of options and so let’s examine each one in turn.
The office of the Government is where all records relative to Land, Homes and Commercial properties are kept. The purpose of this central registry is to keep track of most of the details and transactions of property sales within England and Wales.
Obviously, the records will include who actually owns the property and identify the type, such as a detached or semi-detached one, or even if it is a flat. It is also necessary to know whether the property is newly built or indeed if it is an existing one and who actually owns the freehold to the land. Finally the last recorded Sales Price will be recorded and by carefully reviewing this figure, you can see how prices have changed over time.
Now there are certain exclusions that are not necessarily reported to the Land Registry since there is not real legal obligation to do so. The relevant ones are:
The problem with restricting searches for sold property prices solely through the Land Registry is that only the basic information that I have indicated above is available. The other main issue is that unless the property you seek is not located in either England or Wales, it will not show up on this register.
Property in Northern Ireland has its own Land Registry but any valuations that are supplied relate only to the capital value of property as at January 2005. Therefore it is unable to offer any relevant information with regards to how much your property might be worth if it is located here.
Similarly, the Register of Scotland, the Land Registry equivalent, only records the actual registered owner of the property with no real information into price paid. Whilst the fee is a nominal amount, unlike the others there is still a fee.
There are several on-line commercial entities that not only provide more detailed information but also help you to establish exactly how much your property is worth.
I am going to use a street address where my parents used to live many years ago in Liverpool to explain and demonstrate exactly how these entities work but also portray the difference between them.
Below you will find a condensed table of the information provided by Rightmove as it applies to one particular property. Some of the information has been gleaned from the Land Registry data base but Rightmove has co-ordinated it to show how its actual value has changed over the years, along with a full description of the house in question.
Let us look at similar information provided by another main online site.
This is my preferred site when I am seeking sold property prices anywhere in the UK. You will see the difference and how it is much more informative when trying to establish your own property’s worth. Here is the further information for the same property:
The front page for this property displays the sold prices for the property since 1995 and provided via the Land Registry but it is this page that is the most interesting. Not only does it give an estimate for a sales priced based on current criteria in relation to other similar properties in the region, it also:
As you will see below, Zoopla also provides a graph which depicts how much the property is worth over a 5 year period in relation to general properties in the L23 postal district, and compares it to the UK national average as well.
Property type: Detached house | Tenure: Freehold | Last sale: £412,388 | Sale date: 15th Dec 2011 –
This 4 bed freehold detached house is located at 27 Poplar Avenue, Crosby, Liverpool L23 2ST and has an estimated current value of £466,330. Poplar Avenue has 30 properties on it with a average current value of £668,355, compared to an an average property value of £231,140 for L23. There have been 2 property sales on Poplar Avenue, L23 over the last 5 years with an average house price paid of £368,694 and this detached house was last sold on 15th Dec 2011 for £412,388. There are currently 470 homes for sale in L23 with an average asking price of £303,115 and 54 properties to rent in L23 with an average asking rent of £192 pw.
The final piece of information above gives you all the facts you need to know, not only about the particular property but also about those properties in the actual street and surrounding area.
In fact a further search of that area revealed a house for sale in the same street, advertised only 3 weeks ago, which presented an asking price far in excess of the valuation of any other property in the Avenue. This really confirms that you need to look at the prices of properties sold and not the estimates put on the property by the vendor and the estate agents.
I think we have safely established that in order for you to try and solve the dilemma you had at the outset, namely that of determining “how much is my property worth?” nipping down to the local estate agent and having a look at the properties displayed in the window is not going to give you a true answer. You really need to dig deeper.
You may do a search of the Land Registry archives online to look at recorded selling prices either in your street or in the surrounding area. However, not all the details are recorded there and since you will have to search each property at a time, this could result in a long and tiring exercise.
By using either of the two online entities that I mentioned earlier in this article, all this information is condensed for you along with some additional and helpful facts. As I said, I prefer to Zoopla option because it really does provide all the information you require in order for you to make an informed calculation as to what you deem to be the perceived worth of your own property.
May I just point out that neither the company or I have any relationship or affiliation with Zoopla and its owners or indeed Rightmove and their owners: I just find Zoopla to be a most beneficial and helpful tool.
If you are considering purchasing a new property and you have found the ideal house, before you go into any negotiations or discussions with either the vendor or their estate agents, use the methods I have described to see exactly how the market estimates what that property is worth.
There is an old saying “forewarned is forearmed” and it is highly applicable in this instance for these reasons. If you are considering buying a new property, regardless of the asking price provided by the estate agent, because you have bothered to check as to what the market deems the property to actually be worth, then you are able to negotiate around that amount.
Similarly, if you are considering selling your own property, which is most likely if you are searching for a new house, then the above mentioned information will enable you to keep in the back of your mind the actual worth of your property. It doesn’t matter what price the estate agent is asking, as long as it is not less than your perceived value. You will be aware of exactly how much your property is worth since you have carefully examined the sold property prices in your area and so you also know what figure you need to achieve to reach that amount.
I will just mention one final point if I may. If you find the property of your dreams but you need to move quickly, we may be able to help you. Outside of the London and South East of England areas, buyers are reluctant to move fast in decision making these days. In order not to lose the property you want because of reluctant buyers, sometimes it helps to sell your property quickly, and for cash! This would enable you to move quickly and secure the purchase before you are outbid, particularly when it is a sort-after property and the vendor wants to move fast as well. We regularly complete the entire sale within a matter of days and often achieve the actual asking price indicated by you, the seller.
Review carefully all that I have said. Don’t look at the estate agent’s published price. Do your homework by checking all the sold property prices in your area and at the end of the exercise, you will know exactly what your property is worth to you. After all, it is yours to sell – no-one else!