What is a valuation?
A valuation is an assessment of the value of a property. It should not be confused with a survey (an in-depth assessment of the condition) or a mortgage valuation (a quick check by a mortgage lender to make sure the property is worth what you say it is).
You can either get a valuation from a surveyor or from an estate agent. However with estate agents, there is a risk of an inflated valuation (particularly if you are the seller) so if you want a reliable and unbiased opinion you’re better off going with a surveyor.
What happens in a valuation?
If you’re not sure what to expect, the easier way to think of it is that the valuation surveyor will behave much like a potential buyer viewing the property. They’ll inspect every room as well as any outdoor space, noting things like the condition, the number of rooms and any fittings and fixtures included in the sale.
However there are key differences between the way a prospective buyer inspects a property and the way a valuation surveyor does. For example, whilst most buyers would visually assess the size of the rooms, a valuation surveyor may physically measure them. A surveyor will also take note of the age of the property, the quality of vehicular access and parking, and characteristics of the outdoor space such as topography, location and the size of the plot. They’ll also consider what opportunity there is for future development, which a potential buyer may not think about.
During the valuation feel free to ask your surveyor questions (although if you have lots it’s probably best to do it either before or after). For example, you might want to know how extensions or other building work might affect the value of the property.
How long does a valuation take?
How long a valuation takes depends entirely on the size of the property (including the garden and any outbuildings) as well as how many questions you’ve got to ask, but as a general rule it’s good to block out about an hour in your diary. If you think it might take longer, or you want a more accurate estimate, your best bet is to ask your surveyor.
How can I prepare for a valuation?
Prepare for a valuation in much the same way as you prepare for a house viewing - decluttering and cleaning will maximise the sense of space and show off the best parts of your property, as well as make the process easier for the surveyor. If you want to go even further, check out our guide to staging your home – which is an especially good idea if you’re having the property valued in order to sell it.
It’s also a good idea to make a list of your questions and gather all the paperwork you have about the property, e.g. building plans or information about the lease if it’s leasehold.
How can I increase the value of my home?
Home staging is a good idea if you’re looking to make small changes to improve the perception of the property, but if you’ve got a bit more money to spend there are bigger things you can do to increase the value of your home.
Fix issues with the property – e.g. structural problems like subsidence. Even if the valuation doesn’t pick up on issues, a potential buyer might have them flagged in a survey and lower their offer because of it. You can check for the presence of problems like this by hiring a RICS Surveyor to carry out either a Building Survey or a HomeBuyer Report.
Apply for planning permission – as applying for planning permission can be a lengthy process, it’s an appealing selling point if a property already has permission for certain modifications e.g. extensions, and so can push up the price.
Remodel – e.g. creating a more open-plan space.
Add additional rooms – converting the cellar, loft or garage or extending the property pushes up the value.
Redo the wiring or plumbing – new electricity or water systems in a property are something that buyers might pay more for.
Add a driveway – off-street parking is something that many buyers have on their criteria when looking for a property. This is especially valuable in big cities like London.
Read more about how to add value to your home.