Saturday, February 13, 2010

D I Y home valuations

As part of Britain's growing anti-estate agent movement (according to the Daily Telegraph), property owners are now turning to the internet and logging onto sites such as the Land Registery or to get an instant online valuation of their home.

Criticis of this approach argue that such sites are only as good as the data they contain, based mainly on price comparisons of 'similar' properties recently sold, and therefore not much use in the case of an isolated rural property in an area where nothing has sold for the last 20 years. Here where I live on France's Mediterranean coast, I know the average value of a two-bed beachfront apartment, but would have more difficulty giving a spot appraisal of a detached house with garden, located 5 miles inland.

The owners of Zoopla admit that their estimates rely mainly on data supplied by the user along with a 'confidence index' and advise getting a second opinion. And one English estate agent is quoted as saying 'you may as well rely on a clairvoyant'.

When the author of the article, Anna Tyzack, called in half a dozen estate agents to value her 'tiny London flat', estimates varied by as much as £150,000 and when the flat was sold seven months later it reached the mid-point of the various estimates but higher than the figure suggested online.

All the agents however were familiar with the sale prices achieved for other flats in the same street, showing once again that - as with property searching - there is no substitute for local knowledge from the person on the spot.

French estate agents will at best offer an 'estimation' which is often less than the price a vendor hopes to achieve, and may choose not to take a property onto their books knowing that it is impossible to sell at the asking price demanded.

French property prices on the whole have not dipped dramatically even in recent months, and where there is a sudden large reduction it is invariably the result of a hard-pressed vendor coming to his senses and finally accepting the agent's estimate. 'Properties simply do not sell if they are incorrectly priced' one local French agent confirms, 'but vendors often have their own ideas and we can do little to change that until they find their property stuck in the market place'.

Source: Daily Telegraph, 12 February 2010