Don't Use Online House Valuation Tools To Set Your Asking Price

Written by Myles Hemingway

Myles is our self-confessed ‘word nerd’ and property geek. You’ll find him mythbusting everything from house repayments to maisonettes, as well as giving you our spin on the latest property news and industry trends.

How do I find the true value of my home? We reveal all…


Today an online house valuation is often the first thing on your agenda if you’re a homeowner who’s looking to sell. As it should be. Before quizzing an agent or seeking a house repayments, you first need to be aware of your property’s core value. By that we mean the price a buyer would be willing to pay in the current market. Fail to arm yourself with this knowledge and you could be setting yourself up for a sour sale right from the very start. Hardly ideal.

Remember, in a sales situation information is power. Exactly why you’d be foolish to pass up a free online property valuation. Do so and you risk settling for a price that’s worlds away from what you could have achieved. Or, being misled into thinking your house is worth a figure that in reality, it really isn’t.

Not that an online house valuation is anything to swear by. As you’ll soon discover, it’s really not, but what it is, is a starting point. A point from which you can base your expectations and plan financially for your onward purchase. Important if you're on the hunt for a quick sale.

So with this in mind, what’s your options when looking for an online property valuation? And what is the best online home value estimator? All this and more coming up…

How do I find the value of my house?

Finding the value of your house isn’t actually as simple as it appears. You see there’s no definite answer. As we said above, properties are only worth what someone is willing to pay, so in the end listing you property for sale is simply a matter of catching the right person at the right time. Therefore, house valuations are all about accuracy, not price, as they’re merely an interpretation of your property’s value. To help you understand how valuations can be sought and how online house valuations compare, here’s 3 ways a house can be valued…

HINT: This list is in order of least to most accurate.

    Conduct your own CMA – A comparative market analysis sounds like something you should leave to an expert, but actually it’s pretty straight forward. In fact, you can do one yourself at home. CMAs are simply a comparison of similar or recently sold properties that’s used to gauge the value of your home on the open market.

    To construct one, all you have to do is log into Rightmove (other property portals are available). Then, scroll through the previous listings and keep an eye out for sold properties of a similar style, era, size or type, and be sure to note them down. Compile them side by side and voila – a homemade CMA that allows you to fathom a rough figure that you can expect to achieve.

    NOTE: Typically agents will do a CMA themselves before coming out to appraise your property. However, the main difference is that theirs will be a lot more in depth. Agents have software that gives them access to a property’s final sale price, as well as other useful nuggets like its time on the market.

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    An agent’s appraisal – Inviting an agent out to appraise your property is by far the most common route of acquiring a valuation. It also doesn’t tend to come at a cost. We say ‘tend’ because while agents do offer free valuations, they don’t always state whether they come with no obligation.

    Nevertheless, during an appraisal an agent will take a detailed look around your property, taking into account all its quirks and features. This being good points like a state-of-the-art marble fireplace, or potential drawbacks like a large patch of damp. With these in mind, you’ll then be presented with various figures. One being their perceived market value and the other two being their upper and lower estimates. However, don’t get too excited if you’re presented with a high number.

    Remember, an agent appraises your property in hope of winning your business, so they may adjust their valuation to suit your expectations or their research.

    Appoint a surveyor – If you’re 100% sure that an agent’s telling the truth, then you could appoint a surveyor. Yes, unlike an agent they will come at a cost, typically in-between £200 - £600. But the difference with a surveyor is that they’ll offer you an impartial valuation. Most surveyors will also have a LOT more practical property knowledge than an agent, so it’s likely to be more accurate too. And although it may sound like a pricy move, it actually pretty reasonable when you consider that an inaccurate valuation could slow down your sale considerably and in some cases it could even have you forced to accept a lower offer.

Can I get a valuation of my house online?

Yes, you can get a valuation of your house online and usually at little or no cost. However, it’s not to say that it’ll be entirely accurate.

The main difference between an online house valuation and one conducted face-to-face is that it’s based purely on data and how it fits into a computer algorithm. This is the way it gives you a quick estimate. Notice we say ‘estimate’. Now don’t get us wrong, this data is pretty comprehensive. It takes into account factors like: previous sold prices, an area’s crime rate, your property’s age and even the latest data on property trends. But what it won’t take into account the condition of your property, the value of a recent refurb, nor the fact that it’s been recently extended.

As far as it’s concerned, the condition and saleability of your house is much the same as your neighbour’s, even though in reality that may not be the case. Another point worth mentioning is that unlike a valuation in person, online valuations are based on sold price data and trends. Therefore, the more times, and the more recently, your house has been sold, the more likely the data is to be correct. Then again you could look at it as with every passing year, online house valuations are gradually more and more accurate.

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What is the best online home value estimator?

However, in the case a valuation in person isn’t possible, online home value estimators can be a useful guide to fathoming the rough value of your house. Saying that though, to get the most accurate price, you will have to compare a few. Luckily though, you can because thanks to the success of Zoopla, there’s now an abundance of online house valuation tools out there for you to take advantage of. While we could give you the whole list, instead we’ve picked out what we consider to be the most reliable…

    Halifax's House Price Index

    This is arguably one of the simplest property valuation tools out there. It's also one of the most simple to get your head around, as you don't need to enter your details to make use of it. All you have to do is read it. This is because the Halifax house price index is actually a report on the condition of the housing market that's issued every month, and has been since 1983. The index allows you to monitor price change across different parts of the UK and even compare how prices have changed for specific house types. The data is usually arranged on a monthly or quarterly basis and often offers predictions too. All useful information for anyone who wants to sell their house quickly

    However one aspect where the report falls short compared to other sites is how it acquires its figures. The figures are based on house repayments approvals and not properties that are owned outright. All of which makes it a good tool for predictions, but maybe less of a good tool for analysing the current market.

    To view the latest version of the Halifax House Price Index, click here

    Nethouseprices.com

    A slightly more techy online property valuation tool this, but nevertheless one you shouldn't pass by, especially because it's FREE!

    Nethouseprices.com gives you access to so much data and so many different metrics. You can look deeper into how much houses have sold for - great ammo for price negotiations. The number of listings made for both sales and rental - ideal if you're looking to sell when competition is low. And even what the market for auction properties is like - perfect if you want to up your chances of a quick sale.

    But that's not all. You can go into even finer detail and look at previous listings and how much they've been edited, monitor how asking prices changed and even how much they sold for when completed. The figure that really counts! Perfect marketing intel for sellers + good negotiation ammo for buyers too.

    Mouseprice.com

    This free online property valuation tool lets you assess house prices by postcode. The tool is that precise from an analytical standpoint that it can even pin point the road in the UK, much like Google Maps.

    The property type, final price paid and the exact sold date are all available to unregistered users. Create an account though and you'll be able to see additional data like the number of bedrooms and the estimated market worth. By clicking on comparable properties you can then also see the price change since it's been purchased. A number based on the compound annual growth rate. If you really want to suss out an area this property valuation tool will even let you compare a property to others on the street and generate a heat map to show you the crime rate in the area. Good to know if you're a buyer.

    Land Registry

    If none of the above forms of getting an online house valuation take your fancy, then the government also has two tools you can use to search UK house prices.

    This first being their House Price Index, which is in no way related to the one above provided by Halifax. It's a report published quarterly that touches on a whole host of data including monthly and yearly stats on price change. What makes this online valuation tool really useful is that it also breaks down the stats by region as well as include various graphs and heatmaps to make the data easy to understand.

    The second is the Price Paid Data, which is in essence a less fancy version of Zoopla. The tools lets you search an address' price history, which allows you to make calculated decisions going forward. However, unlike other tools on this list, the data is slightly more broad in the way that it doesn't give you the average price of a street or area. For a better idea of that you'll need to refer back to the House Price Index and try to combine the two. Saying that though, the data is reliable as Mouseprice.com and other property valuation tools base their data on it too.

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Is any online home valuation accurate?

While online home value estimators like the one listed above aren’t the most accurate way of determining the value of your home, they’re still good tools to have in your arsenal, especially when selling. Use these as reference points and they could help you price your house to sell, not sit on the market. However you can’t escape the fact that while the data is good, it’s not there in terms of accuracy just yet.

Halifax’s index, the UK’s oldest property valuation tool, has only being collecting data since 1983 and many of the other house valuation sites only predate their data back to the late 90s. And while 30 years is a decent chunk of time, during that period, the market has been manipulated in so many ways due to external factors like the 2008 financial crash and Covid. All of which can make spotting long-term reliable trends actually quite hard, especially when you consider their effects on the housing market.

However purely on the basis of age, we'd be forced to conclude that Halifax's House Price Index is the best home value estimator available to you today. Yes, it's not the most pretty nor the most technical, but the data is by far the most established out there. And when you're looking to accurately gauge a trend, a wealth of data is exactly what you need.

How to stop bad figures from property valuation tools affecting my house sale

So while property valuation tools can be a great help, they can also be a bit of a hindrance too, especially if they’re way off the mark. While this can be an issue for buyers, it’s tends to come with far more severe consequences for sellers. Having a valuation tool say your property’s worth X amount of thousand less than it actually is, gives buyers a good reason to haggle. Precisely not what you want! So, to help you combat this hurdle, here’s 3 ways to minimise the effects that online house valuations have on your sale…

  • Remove your listing – A well-kept secret of online house valuation tools is that you actually have the option to remove your property’s details by request, including the description and sold price. This is the case for both RightMove and Zoopla. Do so and potential buyers are more likely to see the true value in your house without having their perceptions warped by a low estimate. Equally though, in the case a valuation tool suggest your house is worth more than what it is, then it’s probably best you keep the listing live.

  • Avoid selling until the stats change – If you’re in no hurry to sell then you may benefit from postponing your sale until research portrays house prices in a positive way. For instance, if the Halifax Price Index last reported that prices were falling, it might be worth waiting to list your property until there’s signs of growth. While this won’t apply for property specific websites like mouseprice.com, in the case of more general data like that of the land registry, this tactic could work in your favour.

  • NOTE: The headline stats from both the Land Registry and the Halifax House Price Index often make it into the news, so the likelihood they’ll be believed is very high.

  • Find a buyer who doesn’t use these tools - Unlike the good chunk of buyers, we know to take all property valuation tools with a pinch of salt. Fact remains that in order to value a house accurately today, you require an expert opinion and a solid sense of what’s happening now in the market.

  • As one of the UKs leading cash buyers of property with over 50 years’ experience buying homes, we can not only offer you an expert opinion - we can also go one better. Besides conducting a more knowledgeable valuation of property, we can also take it off your hands… in just 7 days!

    Oh and how could we forget the best bit – that would be a 100% CASH sale, with funds all sourced from our own reserve. Not only that but we’ll also cover your solicitor’s fees, as well as any surveys too.

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