Whether you are looking to sell, remortgage or release some equity from your home, there are numerous valuation tools available online for estimating the value of your property.

But how accurate are these online tools really and when should you use them?

If you are at the early stages of deciding to sell your home and you want to get a general idea of the value of your property to see if selling makes financial sense, using an online valuation tool can be really helpful.

There is also a lot of housing market data that is freely available online and can really inform the asking price you decide to set for your home.

The likes of Rightmove and Zoopla list recent sold prices for properties across the UK (as do the HM Land Registry and the separate land registry organisations in Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland) along with online valuations tools of their own and comprehensive housing market trends. Knowing the price of similar properties on the market currently or the price of local properties which have recently sold can be really helpful when putting a price on your own home, particularly if they are a similar size and layout to yours.

House price indexes such as Halifax and Nationwide also provide information on house price increases which can be used to gauge how much your property may have increased in price since you bought it. House price trends in the different areas of the UK have been compiled on the various government websites too:

England and Wales: https://www.gov.uk/check-house-price-trends

Scotland: https://scotlis.ros.gov.uk/

Northern Ireland: http://www.dfpni.gov.uk/lps

The Agent Guide provides a more comprehensive overview of the local property market as well, with stats on average house prices by property type. This means that you can see the average price of, for instance, 4-bedroom homes that are selling in your local area and how long they take to sell. Zoopla’s Hometrack website offers key property market analysis too and their SmartMap allows you to select a specific search area and view the type of properties for sale there, and what they cost.

As a prospective homebuyer, when you are interested in a property that has gone on the market, doing some online research to get the best price you can for the property is essential and this is where an online valuation tool can come in handy since it will give you an objective indication of the current value of the home. Finding any previous online adverts if the property has been sold within the past 20 years or so will also give you a rough idea of any modernisation which has happened to warrant the current asking price. Local planning authority websites can also fill in some of the blanks in terms of the work which has been done, and any planning applications which have not been approved in the past.

However, an online valuation tool is never going to be 100% accurate when it comes to valuing a given property since it will not consider any renovations which have been made to the property since it was last sold and recent or upcoming developments in the local area. For instance, a new transport infrastructure, schools or local amenities can have a huge impact on the value of individual property and the desirability of the area.

To really get the most accurate valuation for your property, you should always ensure you combine any online property data, including online valuation tools, with an in-person valuation by a local property expert such as an estate agent. In fact, to really get an accurate valuation for your property, we would recommend inviting more than one agent to value your home so you can compare the asking prices they suggest. If you are the buyer, a comprehensive survey by a charted surveyor is also wise to pick up on any structural issues which may have an impact on the price you wish to offer.

For the savvy homebuyer looking to keep selling costs to a minimum, a hybrid estate agent is often a good solution when it comes to getting the best price for your property. Unlike an online-only agent, the hybrid estate agent model combines both online valuations and the technology – such as virtual viewings, 24/7 communication between seller, buyers and agents and property advertisement performance tracking – with an on the ground local property expert to physically assess and sell your property. All of this also comes in at a much more cost-effective price than a high street agent with storefront and staff overheads to recoup.

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