How much is your house worth?

Your home is likely to be the most valuable thing you own, so it's alarming that when you come to sell it, you suddenly realise that nobody knows what it's worth. You'll have a number in mind, your friends and neighbours will have their own suggestions, and then any estate agents you bring round will have a view of their own too. So who is right? What's your property worth?

SEE ALSO: How to sell a house: get people in through the front door

See also: The UK's most spectacular sea views

The challenge

When we try to value our home, we are subject to all sorts of faulty thinking. We tend to start with what we paid for it, so those who bought a long time ago may undervalue their home, while those who bought closer to the peak will be overly ambitious. We also suffer from the fact that when we own something, we automatically put a higher value on it. It makes it difficult to think objectively about price.

The experts recommend you get three estate agents around to value your property, but they can very easily differ by tens (or in extreme cases hundreds) of thousands of pounds.

This leaves sellers in a tricky position. If they price a property too low, then they may sell it fast, but they will miss out on the extra cash they could have made.

If they price it too high, then they may not sell at all. They can bring the price down later, but by then they will have missed out on the first rush of potential buyers that come when a property is first put on the market. They will also plant a seed of doubt among buyers, who wonder why a property hasn't sold - and why the seller has had to reduce the price.

What can you do?

1. Research

Pricing your home starts with research. There are plenty of online tools, like, which will show you what similar properties have sold for recently., meanwhile, will actually take previous prices, then factor in how they have risen locally, and add that price rise to your property, to come up with an estimate of what it's worth now.

You should also look at the sold prices of similar properties in the area. Don't get carried away with asking prices of things that are currently on the market, because it will mask where a property price will eventually need to be cut.

Put on a buyer's hat and learn the market, and you will get a much better idea of a reasonable asking price for the property.

2. Ask the experts

You should also get at least three estate agents in, but take their responses with a pinch of salt. Bear in mind that any agent quoting a fixed fee for selling will be biased towards quoting a lower price - because it will make it easier for them to sell. Those who are on a percentage fee, meanwhile, may be biased to push up the asking price.

You also need to bear in mind that with so few houses on the market, some agents will promise you a much higher price in order to win the business. There's no guarantee that they won't have to cut this to something more realistic later.

3. Consider your priorities

Once you have gathered all this information, think about your priorities. If you want to sell for the highest possible price, are wiling to wait a few months, and prepared to take a gamble, then you can go with the highest price you found for something similar in the area - or the highest price quoted by an agent.

If you want a quick and painless sale, you can go for something around the lower end of the estimates - on the understanding that you may be leaving something on the table. Alternatively, take something in the middle of the range, which you hope will yield the right balance.

4. Have a back up plan

After you have set a price, you also need to decide your bottom line. This is the level to which you might reduce the asking price if you don't have any interest. Alternatively, it may be the level at which you might accept an offer. You also need to be clear in your own mind when you would be willing to give up on your valuation and shift to your bottom line.

Unfortunately, the answer to the question of what your home is worth is 'whatever someone is willing to pay for it'. And that's something you can never be entirely sure of until your house goes onto the market.

Most viewed property of the year
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Most viewed property of the year
This unassuming three-bedroom detached house in Martins Heron in Berkshire doesn’t immediately look like the kind of property to draw the crowds. However, the fact it was used as Harry Potter’s home in the first of the films means we were intrigued to see inside this £475,000 property that was ideal for commuting.
This was an impressive seven-bedroom home in Upper Denby, on the market for £1.3 million - with plenty of rustic charm and a wood-burning stove. However, we all know the real reason this made it to the list of the most-viewed properties: it’s the enormous play area complete with pirate ship that you can just catch sight of through the lounge window.
This five bedroom relatively newly-built mansion has every whistle and bell you could wish for - from a cinema and games room to a gym, swimming pool, and a dining room that’s big enough for a grand piano in the corner. It’s still on the market for £1.05 million, and is right next to Lincoln Golf course if you fancy playing a round.
Unsurprisingly, this development project on Chadwick Road in East London has been snapped up. At just £1 million you got 13 rooms over four floors - with off-street parking for three cars. No wonder it was the seventh most popular home for us to look at, and dream that with a bit of elbow grease we could have a huge London property... and we could finally park somewhere near it too.

This is a home that comes with a dream lifestyle. For just £1.4 million, you can get an incredibly swanky five-bedroom farmhouse in seven acres of lovely Welsh countryside. You also get a two-bedroom barn conversion - either to house visiting family, or to run as a holiday letting business. The house is still in the market - so that dream could still be yours.

Ever fancy your own posh lakeside hideaway with its own jetty just over an hour from London - for just £2.8 million?

Quite a few people did, judging by the fact that this new development in Cirencester was the 5th most viewed house of the year.

For just £545,000, this 6-bedroom house in Donaghadee could be yours. The property itself is very recently developed in an elegantly rustic New England style. There's plenty of room, and a dream bathroom. But possibly the reason it features so high up the list of most-viewed houses is that it comes with a paddock and stable - perfect for anyone with horsey aspirations.
It’s easy to see why this pretty £375,000 cottage is in such high demand. First is the fact it has been rebuilt from reclaimed stone, so combines old world charm with handy modern features (like a good-sized kitchen and fancy bathroom). Then there’s the location - right in the centre of the village of Holmfirth - best-known as the setting of Last of the Summer Wine.

This impressive house in Bromley in Kent has footballer written all over it. From the pale grey colour scheme, to the acres of space, and the enormous patio for entertaining, there's plenty for a footballer to love. At just £1.7 million it’s pocket-change for them too. For the rest of us, there’s the chance to dream of a mansion within commuting distance of London for the price of a flat in Notting Hill.

There was a time when a semi-detached five-bedroom home in Hampstead Garden Suburb was the sort of thing that ordinary families could aspire to. Now it's the kind of thing we spend our time daydreaming over on property websites: marveling at a 90 foot garden and the fact it has a garage. The price tag of £2.25 million means it's the kind of house we can only ever afford to look at online - which is probably why it's the most viewed property of the year.

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