How should one value a property – or is it just licking your finger?

I have discovered that the property market is awash with self-proclaimed experts. Recent Biddle & Webb auction successes confirm what, in reality, we already know: in a crowded saleroom, it is ultimately the buyers who set the price when the gavel falls.

Our recent sale of an end terrace house on Moor Green Lane is a great example of the art of valuing.

A client looking to raise money for care costs asked me to look at the house: our first step was a house inspection to assess the condition and the amount of work required to return it to a family home; and then a comparison of recent sales in the postcode and surrounding roads, and a wider comparison with similar properties. In the end, I placed an estimate of £155,000 to £175,000. The house sold, eventually, for £198,000 – the auction worked, and all parties were happy. However, the backstory illustrates the vagaries of the house market and the process of valuing a property.

The happy seller told me after the auction that the local estate agent – who had also seen the house – suggested a marketing price of £180,000, with the instruction to the potential client that they expected to get offers in the region of £170,000, which the agent would recommend. All of this was fine, and, I suspect, perfectly standard practise with a slightly tired property, but it did beg the question: what is a property worth, and how should one guide a client?

Thankfully, the client knew and trusted Biddle & Webb, and I felt confident enough with the auction process to maximise the open market price.

Valuing a property is not an exact science, and I don’t think it can be called an art either. It is a simple step in the process of working with a client to get a house onto the market.

Biddle & Webb use RICS valuers. They play an important role in helping solicitors complete HM Revenue forms, and I have enjoyed working with the individuals, but I know that if we instructed three RICS valuers to appraise a house they would produce three different values. You would like to think that the valuations would be in the same region, and based on sound principles, but they would be different nonetheless.

All pricing processes are, in a way, just licking your finger to see which way and how strong the market wind is blowing, but this is only an opinion. The only price that matters is the sale price when the market has had its say.


Jeremy Thornton, Director

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