If you’re looking to buy or sell a home, you’ll want to get the most accurate assessment of how much that property is worth.
Where sellers would traditionally rely on the insight of local estate agents to set an asking price, there is now a wealth of data available online to help inform us too.
Here we look at some of the ways you can estimate the value of a property or get a free house price valuation.
Find the value of nearby properties
A good starting point to get an idea of how much your property might be worth is to find out how much has been paid for similar local properties.
Official statistics can be found at the Land Registry in England and Wales and the Registers of Scotland.
Virtually every property that is sold is listed and it takes around three months for the data to appear after the sale has completed.
The Land Registry also doesn’t list much detail other than the property price, which is where property portals such as Rightmove, Zoopla and OnTheMarket come in handy.
With all three you can just enter a postcode or street name in the House Prices (Rightmove, Zoopla) or Sold Prices (OnTheMarket) sections and find out which properties have sold, when and for how much.
Rightmove lists the average price of sold properties in any given area and breaks down average price per property type. It will tell you how much prices have risen or fallen in the past five years.
If properties have previously been listed, you’ll also be able to see archived images, a floorplan and a Google Street View of the property.
Zoopla works in a similar way – it provides the average sold price and how many properties have been purchased over a set period, which you can toggle. It also tells you how much prices have changed and allows you to filter by property type.
Look at market trends
Property prices shift over time with some areas increasing in popularity and others declining. While past performance isn’t guaranteed to continue, looking at house price trends can provide valuable insight.
There are a trio of well-established monthly indices to turn to. While there are unlikely to be big differences between them, they are based on difference datasets so will produce different results.
- Land Registry publishes a monthly house price index and you can also search its website by date, property type, region or local authority.
- Halifax’s monthly house price index dates back to January 1983 and as well as prices, it also provides commentary and trends on new instructions and enquiries. Unlike Land Registry, its data is based on mortgage approvals and not completed sales.
- Nationwide's house price index provides monthly and quarterly reports for national and regional house price data. Similar to Halifax, Nationwide’s index is based on mortgage data only, and not Buy to Let or cash purchases.
Get a free valuation
Several sites provide free valuations, but these should only be used as a guide as they are unlikely to take into account all factors such as the state of the property or modifications such as a recent renovation.
If there haven’t been many recent sales in the area, the valuation may not be as accurate because there is less information on which to base it.
- Zoopla Estimates is a tool is found on its House Prices page and is powered by Hometrack, the UK's biggest automated valuer of residential property. It doesn’t just rely on previous sold values, but takes in changes in market value of similar nearby properties, characteristics of the property such as the number of bedrooms, and local area data such as crime rates and local schools.
- Property Price Advice asks a series of questions such as the type and age of the property and the number of bedrooms. It also drills down further, such as the condition of the kitchen and whether the home has central heating. You will need to provide an email address as a final step before receiving the valuation, which the site claims will be within 15% of the actual value for 50% or more of UK properties.
- Mouseprice.com is another option for a free valuation, but you’ll need to register. It doesn’t provide anything over and above the other tools and its estimations can cover a broad range, but the overview of the type of properties and recent sales in the area is helpful.
- Nationwide’s house price calculator also provides a quick way of gaining a valuation. You are asked when you bought the property and how much you paid, or the date and amount of its most recent valuation. It will calculate the current value and provide the percentage valuation change.
Heatmaps are a quick visual aid and give you a snapshot of valuations in different locations. Usually, the redder the map, the higher the price. Zoopla uses its Zed-Index , which is based on its Zoopla Estimates. Mouseprice also has a similar tool.
Check out asking prices
If you do not want to rely on estimates, you could see what prices current for-sale properties are being listed for.
The advantage here is that there should be up to date details about the individual properties listed, including recent pictures.
The vast majority of properties for sale in the UK are listed on one of the three main property portals, Rightmove, Zoopla and OnTheMarket, so there is no shortage to assess.
While viewing what’s available in your area will give you a guide to pricing, remember a home will be listed for what the owner wants to get for it – not necessarily what it is worth.
Zoopla’s price history for a property provides additional information by showing how much a property was previously listed for, whether it sold or not.
The Chrome web browser add-on, Property Log, works in a similar way. It analyses Rightmove and shows which sellers have altered the price on their listings.
Once Property Log is installed, any price alterations will automatically appear when you do a search on Rightmove.
Other ways to help with your property search
As well as getting as accurate a valuation as possible for a property you want to buy or sell, there are a number of ways to improve your property search by increasing your chances of viewing it first and finding out more about the local area. Here are a few of them.
- Contact your local estate agents: If you build a rapport with your local agents, then they may notify you when they receive a new instruction, giving you a head-start even before the property is uploaded to the web.
- House price alerts: Portals such as Zoopla, Rightmove and OnTheMarket all allow you to create property alerts which will tell you when a property comes on to the market in your price range in your area. Mouseprice also allows you to track a property and receive an email when it's bought, sold or the seller cuts the price.
- Broadband coverage: Find out the broadband speed and coverage of the local area in advance to check whether you will receive a reliable service. Use our Broadband Speed test to test the connection in seconds and read our guide on Broadband Speed to learn more.
- Healthcare: A search on NHS Choices will tell you how far away the nearest GP, pharmacy, dentist, optician or hospital is.
- Schools: Rightmove has a School Checker option to help you find out which schools are nearby for each property, plus their Ofsted rating and admissions criteria.
- Crime: Police.uk maps reported crimes by street in England and Wales. These include burglary, violence and anti-social behaviour.
Cut down your bills
Once you’ve found your dream home, you’ll want to keep the running costs as low as possible.