Conflicting valuations

Published: 21/03/2024

Imagine putting your home on the market in spring, then missing the two best seasons to get the best price, and finally selling for less money in winter - how disappointing would that feel?

Unfortunately, it's not an unusual tale, and we meet far too many disillusioned sellers who’ve been struggling to sell for months and months after being misled on price.

Getting an unexpectedly high valuation for your home can be exhilarating, but if it bears no relationship to recent sales or comes with a lengthy agency lock-in, your move could be a very long way off.

To avoid this becoming your story, let's dive into the art of accurate pricing and the problems of asking too much with the answer to questions like:

  • Do agents deliberately overvalue?
  • How can you tell if a valuation is accurate?
  • Is trying a higher price really a problem?
  • What are the red flags of deliberate overvaluing?
  • Can you turn a disappointing valuation into a higher sale price?
With our guide to seeing through conflicting valuations, you’ll have all you need to spot the right advice and sell your home for its optimum price, without getting stuck on the shelf.


DO AGENTS DELIBERATELY OVERVALUE?
If you can’t understand why any estate agent would value a property at a price they couldn’t achieve, it’s all about playing the waiting game with your move and your time.

The strategy thrives on silence - as long as nobody acknowledges the tactic, it continues to yield results, and here's why:

  • Sellers don’t usually try to prove that their home is worth less than an agent’s valuation - they’re generally more delighted to have done so well.
  • The idea of getting tens of thousands of pounds more can override gut feelings around the credibility of advice or an agent's shortcomings.
  • Once you’ve signed a long agreement, an agent can gradually manage you down on price without the risk of losing you to a competitor.
This is how people end up on the market for way too long, sometimes more than a year, with plans delayed, dream homes missed, and money lost, nicely rounded off with a deeper mistrust of agents.


HOW CAN YOU TELL IF A VALUATION IS ACCURATE?
Estate agents often get flack for pushing prices up, but it’s our job to get you as much as we can. And given the choice, we’d proudly get a record price every time we agreed a sale.

Our focus is on finding as many selling points as possible, and our valuation can usually be divided into the following five factors.

  • Location - Weighing up established areas over up-and-coming ones, quiet streets over main roads, and relevant local amenities like shops, transport and schools.
  • Accommodation - The number and size of rooms, along with any outside areas like a garden or roof terrace, and whether there's a garage or parking space.
  • Condition - Assessing the level of modernity over the need for updating, as wel as decorative style and overall presentation.
  • Features - Unique selling points that set your home apart, from a great view and natural light to a fabulous kitchen or sumptuous bedroom suite.
  • Comparable homes - Using recent data of similar nearby sales and homes that are sticking for a tangible picture of current market values.
  • The X-factor - Those subtle aspects unique to your home which may yield an unusually high premium.
These measurable or comparable factors not only tell you if a valuation makes sense; they’re also how buyers decide which homes will make it to their viewing shortlist - so they really do matter!


RED FLAGS OF A DELIBERATE OVERVALUATION
No estate agent is perfect, and we’ve all sold a home for less than we expected to, but that’s different to overvaluing as a plan. Fortunately, the practice has some tell-tale signs, including:

  • Claims of multiple eager buyers waiting in the wings to pay the high price being suggested, combined with locking you into a lengthy agency agreement of many months.
  • A track record of homes languishing on the market for long periods of time, together with a history of price reductions.
  • Zero evidence to support the advice: we’ve seen valuations at 10 or 20% (and sometimes more) above homes of a similar value, made with nothing more than a carefully worded promise.
The most reliable figures are from the Land Registry, but they’re currently taking months to update, by which time the market and season have changed, and prices could have moved in either direction.

So it's worth scrutinising an agent’s advice and challenging a price that seems too high, no matter how much you'd like to believe it's true.


IS TRYING A HIGHER PRICE REALLY A PROBLEM?

If we said to you, “Our recommended asking price will make you invisible to buyers of homes like yours and only target people who want more for their money,” you might question our wisdom.

Dressed up differently, however, and you could be tempted to follow our advice, but there are repercussions to being on the market for a long time at a price that’s too high, including:

  • Getting attached to an inflated valuation, then resisting a price reduction because the idea of getting more money (that was never there) won’t go away.
  • Having a distorted idea of what you can afford for your next property, then being disappointed by everything you see within your actual budget when reality bites.
  • A visible trail of stagnation on the portals that either puts buyers off or encourages them to make lower offers.
These are real stories from the people we meet, and, unfortunately, the only loser is the seller as the market around them continues to move while they remain stuck where they are.


HOW TO INCREASE YOUR HOME’S VALUATION
Being disappointed with the valuation of your home could be the perfect catalyst for making improvements that add thousands to your sale price.

From minor styling tweaks to major building projects, here are some ideas for boosting your home’s value and saleability, for budgets big and small:

A few hundred
Declutter, tidy and clean; paint the front door; upgrade taps and shower fittings; accessorise with new textiles; add plants and stylish pots; hang mirrors for more light and extra views.

A few thousand
Change kitchen cupboard fronts, worktops or appliances; swap out a bath for a walk-in shower; add some garden luxury; redecorate the outside; create a parking space in a front garden.

Tens of thousands
Add bedrooms with an extension or loft conversion; replace windows for more light and energy efficiency; make a big family dining kitchen by combining smaller separate spaces.

Before you go shopping, ask your agent about the features, upgrades and luxuries buyers want to see where your money will get the best return.


Are you struggling to sell or getting conflicting valuations?
Selling a home in Berkhamsted or Tring doesn't have to be hard work or full of mystery, and we'd love to help you get your move on the right track.

Call us today to chat through your plans, and let's work together on getting you sold.

Tring office: 01442 820420
Berkhamsted office: 01442 863000