Independent House Price Valuation - Sellers
No matter how you decide to do your sale, either through an Estate Agent, yourself or at auction - always carry out your own independent property valuation / house price valuation first. This helps you to estimate how much your house is worth and where to set the asking price. Chartered Surveyors not Estate Agents carry out independent valuations.
Estate Agents provide a marketing service for your property; they don't provide underwritten valuations. It is a common misconception that Estate Agents value your property for you; they simply give you a very intuitive estimate of what they think your house is worth. Moreover, their estimates might be influenced by their motivations; they might set the asking price too high to secure your instruction or too low to obtain a quick sale.
It is perfectly possible for you to perform your own house price valuation by comparing the prices that similar properties in similar locations have been sold for recently.
Estate Agents generally adopt a similar approach to house price valuation. Except they will usually go to a site like Rightmove or Globrix and obtain a list of property for sale in the same area with a similar specification (type, style, bedrooms, garden, en suites, garage etc.) The most difficult property to arrive at a house price valuation for are where there are few or no similar properties. Here you may be forced to look at a wider area to find a similar property and look at price differentials for the unique features compared to a more "standard" property.
Another useful way to get a good handle on what your house price valuation is to look at how house prices have increased in your area since you purchased the property. Nationwide offer a tool which calculates what the price of the house would be today compared with the price paid when it was purchased for different regions in the country. It offers a good starting point. To refine your house price valuation further you can use Rightmove's house price trendometer which provides more detailed data on a county by county basis in England and Wales. Both have data back to 2001.
With a good broad price indication you can now make any adjustments for improvements you may have made to the property in the interim as some of this expenditure will be reflected in the value of the house. This could include things like installation of double glazing, addition of en-suite bathrooms, adding a conservatory, a garage conversion or a house extension.
Armed with this information you will be in a much better position to judge the sort of valuations that an Estate Agent may give you.