How to find the true value of a property

How to find the true value of a property
Whether you’re buying or selling, it’s important to know what the value of a house is. Here’s how to find out the true value of a property.
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How to value a house

House prices are always a popular topic of conversation around dinner tables and barbeques across the nation.

But house prices in Sydney and Melbourne aren’t really a good indicator of what your house deep in the suburbs of Adelaide might be worth.

So how do you estimate your property value?

Download a property report

One of the easiest options to get an estimate of your property’s value is to download a free property report.

You can download a free property report containing the most recent RP data from loans.com.au: Online home loans and car loans which contains all the information you need about a specific property including its estimated value, previous sales history, and details about the suburb.

You can expect to find the following in your free property report from loans.com.au:

  • median sales price in the area

  • properties sold in the area

  • estimated property value

If you’re applying for a home loan with loans.com.au you can receive your free property report by checking out our property report page. Alternatively, you can call us on 13 10 90. 

Use recent RP data

The property market can change quickly, so it’s important to look at the most recent RP data.

RP data (rich property data) is a subscription product that gives you access to 20 years' worth of property data collected by property research company CoreLogic.

RP data will give you extensive information about the property you’re planning on buying or selling, such as the estimated price range for a property, recent sales prices for similar properties in the area, details of nearby properties that are on the market, information on the suburb’s performance and a suburb profile.

Arrange a professional property valuation

Another option is to arrange for a professional property valuation to be done.

A valuation is also helpful for both buyers and sellers because it provides a clear indication of the market value of a property, which could help buyers reduce the risk of overpaying. A valuation also helps sellers understand the weaknesses of their property, so they know where to make renovations to add value.

But the most common reason people arrange for a property valuation to be completed is because many lenders require one to be done before determining whether a borrower should take out a loan.

A valuer will visit the property, inspect the inside and outside, evaluate the land, assess the shape, aspect and size of the land as well as its development and zoning potential.

A property valuer will also measure the size of the building and note the number and type of rooms, the age and condition of the property, the layout and design, and any unique characteristics that could impact the value.

Research the area

Another option is to do some research yourself.

You can learn about the area by talking to agents, looking at recent property sales and attending auctions. Looking up recent transactions in the area involving similar properties will give you a good indication of sale prices.

It may also be a good idea to consider the area immediately around the property (i.e. does it face a busy road? Does the area have lots of criminal activity?).

Market valuation vs bank valuation

A market valuation is an indication of what your property might sell for based on the current market value and recent sales in the area, and is usually completed by a real estate agent.

A bank (or lender) valuation is performed by a certified valuer who considers the value of your property over a longer period of time.

A bank valuation is usually more conservative than a market valuation, and is used by banks to assess the value of your property to calculate how much money they can lend you.

How to estimate your property value: comparison tips

1. Look at similar properties

You should limit your comparison to similar properties in your area as this will give you the best idea of the value of your home. There’s no point in comparing your two-bed, one-bath property against a four-bedroom, three-bathroom home because the extra bedrooms and bathrooms pushes that property into a different price range.

When you’re looking at similar properties, consider the total size of the property including the square metres of the living spaces and bedrooms, properties that are a similar distance from main roads and amenities like shops and public transport, compare the interior and exteriors, and only look at properties that are in similar condition to yours. Homes that are much older or newer than your property may be different in value.

2. Compare property features

You should also take property features into account when comparing properties - is your home superior or inferior to others recently sold in the area? For example, does your home have a pool, a shed, big backyard, triple garage, or even a cinema room and a tennis court?

Exclude properties that don’t have similar features to get a better idea of what your home might be worth.

3. Compare recent local sales

You’re looking at the current market value so you need to look at recent sales in your area. Because the property market is always changing, it’s important to remember that property sales from six or twelve months ago are probably not relevant anymore. Instead, refine your search to the last three months or less.

Being on the ground and going to local auctions in your area can give you a good indication of what’s happening with the property market in your neighbourhood, and how hot (or cold) the market is. Talking with real estate agents is also helpful.

Useful comparison metrics include median house prices, auction clearance rates, and average days on market. You can find this information on websites like CoreLogic, realestate.com.au and domain.com.au.

Common mistakes made when trying to estimate your property value

1. Not comparing similar properties

There’s no point in comparing your two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment against a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home with a backyard because they’re very different properties and have different price points.

You should only compare your property against similar homes in your area that have similar features. Of course, this can be difficult in markets where there isn’t much inventory or very unique homes.

2. Being swayed by the real estate agent

You shouldn’t rely completely on the real estate agent to give you an accurate picture of the value of similar homes in your area. It’s always best to use a few different sources when comparing recent sales in the area, such as data, going to auctions, and talking to agents.

3. Comparing your property against new or off-the-plan properties

Brand new and off-the-plan properties tend to sell for a premium, so it doesn’t make sense to compare your ten-year old home against them.

Instead, compare your property against homes of a similar age in your area. Be mindful that if there are a lot of new homes in your area, it may drive down the value of your home as buyers tend to prefer brand new properties.

4. Getting all your information from the media

Australians are property obsessed and love reading about the housing market in the media. But you shouldn’t rely completely on the media to get your information about what’s happening with property values in your area, as most news outlets will generally report on what’s happening at a capital city level, which may be different to what is happening in your local suburb.

For a more accurate picture it’s best to go straight to the source and check the data on CoreLogic, or Domain and realestate.com.au

5. Being emotionally tied to your home

It’s understandable to want your home to fetch a high asking price if you’ve lived there for years and have many amazing memories tied up in the home. But buyers don’t really care that your home is where you raised your children or that your dog is buried under the apple tree in the backyard.

The only thing buyers care about is how many bedrooms and bathrooms the property has, how nice the kitchen and living room/s are, how big the backyard is, if there’s a car space, and so on. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that your home is worth more than it actually is just because you love your home and have a lot of memories there.

6. Not understanding the property market

If you don’t know your auction clearance rates from your vacancy rates or the difference between a passed in home versus one sold under the hammer, it’s time to brush up on your knowledge of the property market.

The same applies if you don’t really understand what’s happening in terms of property prices in your area, and at a capital city and national level. The best way to get started is to begin attending auctions and open homes in your area, talking to real estate agents, and keeping up with news about the property market.

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