If you get a property valuation that comes back lower than you expected, this is called a ‘down valuation’. If this happens, your options depend the role you’re playing in the transaction as well as the type of valuation that you got.
Mortgage lender’s valuation
A mortgage valuation is a relatively quick check that the property you want to buy is worth what you say it is. They’ll want to know that the amount they’re lending to you will be completely covered by the value of the property.
It can be a real pain if your mortgage valuation comes back lower than the price you’ve already agreed to pay, as it means that the lenders are not happy to give you the amount you need to buy the property. Luckily, there are a few options.
Some mortgage lenders will give you the opportunity to appeal the valuation. If you decide to do this you’ll need evidence of why you disagree with their figure – for example, records of how much similar properties in the area have sold for recently.
Find the extra cash
If the difference between the expected and actual property value is relatively small, then you might be able to bridge the gap using savings, or perhaps a loan from a family member.
Renegotiate the sale
You could try going back to the seller with the mortgage valuation and using it to renegotiate.
How successful this is will depend on the circumstances. If the property has been on the market a while or if the seller is looking for a quick sale, they might be prepared to accept a lower offer to make sure the sale goes through as planned. But if they know they wouldn’t have a problem finding another buyer, or if they need to sell at the asking price in order to afford their next property, it’s less likely to work.
Find another lender
Although this may be better than the alternative, it’s not a particularly desirable option because it will inevitably lead to a delay in the sale and will also cost you more.
You’ll need to go through the process of applying for a mortgage all over again, including potentially paying fees. If you’re not able to do that and none of the other solutions are viable options for you, you might have no choice but to abandon the transaction and find another property.
If you do decide to do this, remember that any delay to a sale will carry an increased risk of the seller backing out and finding another buyer.
How can I avoid an unexpectedly low mortgage valuation?
The best thing you can do is get a RICS valuation before arranging your mortgage. If you’re getting a survey done (which we’d always recommend you do) then you could get a valuation done as part of that.
While valuations are, by nature, a little subjective, getting a professional assessment of the property before approaching any mortgage lenders is a good idea. You can use that valuation to negotiate a price with the seller, and then hopefully the mortgage lender’s valuation won’t be too different.
Prospective buyer’s valuation
If you’re selling your property a prospective buyer might get a valuation as part of their survey. If they get a lower figure and reduce their offer as a result, it can be frustrating.
Challenging professional valuations can be tricky, because they are carried out by experts who are specially trained to consider all characteristics of a property and location before giving their verdict. As a result, the report is likely to be very thorough. If you do think the valuer has overlooked an important part of the property or given undue attention to negative aspects, you could consider challenging it. However this is often difficult in practice because the buyer isn’t obliged to show you the contents of the report.
If you are considering objecting to the valuation, you should first consider where you got your initial valuation figure from.
Estate agent’s valuations can be inflated to encourage you to employ them to sell your property. As a result you’re unlikely to be able to use an estate agent’s valuation to argue against a valuation from a Chartered Surveyor.
However, if you’ve got a valuation from a surveyor but your seller gets a lower one, you might have a bit more luck. This is because valuations from surveyors are generally more reliable.
What can I do to avoid an unexpectedly low RICS valuation?
Again, your best bet is to get the initial valuation from a RICS registered surveyor instead of from an estate agent. They are qualified to give accurate valuations that take all parts of the property into account. If you’ve got a valuation from a trained professional, it’s less likely that your prospective buyer will get a figure that is substantially different.
Valuations will always carry an element of subjectivity, so the best thing you can do is get your figure from a trained Chartered Surveyor who will value the property based purely on the characteristics and features of the property.