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FOCUS: The art form of house valuations in an inflated market

FOCUS: The art form of house valuations in an inflated market

Wednesday 16 June 2021

FOCUS: The art form of house valuations in an inflated market


Some house purchasers have experienced conflicting house prices and valuations, leading to banks not lending and buyers being forced to drop out.

It's clear that all parties involved in the house buying chain are experiencing their own issues, each sharing a unique perspective on our current housing crisis.

From the bank manager satisfying their due diligence, to the estate agent trying to get the best for their client. Between them sit the chartered surveyors, who are bound by international guidelines (RICS) to value houses within legal parameters.

That has caused unexpected issues for some prospective homeowners, who have either had to fork out more cash or drop out.

Peter Brewin is a Chartered Surveyor, and one half of the architecture firm Hunt Brewin. "Any valuation is not an absolute science and there isn't a magic formula; over here you don't have lots of comparable properties."

"We have to refer to recent 'comparables' and the difficulty we're having in the last six or nine months is that property prices have been rising very rapidly."

"However the process of doing a valuation for mortgage lending is it [still] needs to be in accordance with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors standards."

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Pictured: "The process of doing a valuation for mortgage lending is; it needs to be in accordance with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors standards," said Mr Brewin.

Jon Sheppard from Sheppard’s Estate Agents said it is here that difficulties can arise in a market which has seen average sale prices shoot up by 15% in 12 months.

Express has recently interviewed buyers who have been bidding 20% more than the asking price just to stand a chance. 

“You’ve agreed to buy a house at £900k, for example, but then it gets valued at £800k and the bank will only lend 95% of that," said Mr Sheppard. “Unless you’re a cash buyer, ultimately the transaction isn’t going to happen."

He’s concerned that some people are pushing up the price of their home far above what an estate agent suggests it should be.

“We’ll tell a client what we think it’s worth, but the client will say ‘well, we want more’”, said Mr Sheppard.

He suggests the issue doesn’t just affect those trying to buy in the current climate, but has a knock-on effect for the housing industry in general.

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Pictured: The average price of a property in Guernsey has risen by 15% from last year to £509,906.

“You might be a cash buyer, you might be prepared to pay that extra £100k,” said Mr Sheppard. “But once that property has gone through it’s used as an example. The neighbour might say ‘hey, the house next door went for this much, so should our's’. It then starts to distort the figures."

Lovell Ozanne Surveying Co-Director Chris Richardson said there are many variables when valuing a property. 

"When we look into a property, we look at comparable information, but we also have to bear in mind the rate of increase or decrease in any given period," he said.

"We're combining a lot of different information to get a figure; condition and location are prime examples. Guernsey doesn't have a vast stock of very similar properties. The theory works quite well in the UK, where you have houses down one street that are all quite similar.

"It doesn't happen quite the same in Guernsey, there's more professional judgement required."

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Pictured: Fluctuations in the market are often confined to margins surveyors place their valuations in.

Despite the concerns raised, Mr Richardson said he hasn't seen much evidence of conflicting valuations and market prices.

"Some Estate Agents might consider that surveyors could be behind the market, but of course that’s not the case. It takes years of professional training and considerable qualification to become a Chartered Surveyor.

"Yes, when comparing properties, we're reliant on transactions being completed and the evidence being available but that is of course not to the point that we are behind in our opinions," he said.

"We have many years of experience in varied markets and of course we take these things into account in our professional judgement.

"When you're in a market that's rising there could be a perception of a time lag. However, I don't think that's strictly the case here. But it’s something we of course have to take into account," he said.

His fellow Director, Ross Paisley, concluded that it is unsurprising that so much money is being put into property.

"Some might see it in simplistic terms," said the Lovell Ozanne Director. "We've had covid and we've had covid again, the world is not the place it used to be. Guernsey is a big place of disposable income; we can't go on holiday, we can't go abroad; we can't do this, we can't do that. What can we do?

"We can make our house nicer, we can buy a bit of property, we can live the dream in a different way."

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