Southsea Lifestyle – Free Magazine for Southsea, Old Portsmouth, Eastney & Gunwharf Quays

Computer Says No!

Neil Maxwell

Up and down the country there is now a shortage of property coming to the market, with plenty of buyers desperately looking to buy their dream home, or even just something that vaguely meets their requirements. This is helping to keep house prices very buoyant of course, but I’d not want to give the impression house owners are in the midst of some sort of goldrush either, especially as experienced surveyors aren’t afraid to correct house values — which helps to keep prices in check.

Getting the price of your property correct is not something an algorithm from an online portal can predict, particularly in our city where the legacy of World War Two left gaps in traditional streets of two and three bedroom houses that were subsequently filled by much larger homes or flats.

A good example of this was a sale of a four bedroom 1980s townhouse with garage, plus parking, in a street where the rest of the properties tended to sell at around £220,000.00. The owner had booked four valuations and I was the last appointment.

I provided a valuation of £290,000.00 and the owner was overcome with shock and instantly accused me of over valuing the property, just to gain the instruction, as he had received three other valuations of £250,000.00. On returning to the office, I discussed the valuation with my colleagues who all concurred with my recommendation.

I started to look around for more comparables to justify my valuation to the owner and happened to find an online notice detailing  the exact property and there, sure enough, was a predicted valuation for the property of £250,000.00. The algorithm had taken the average value for the street, added two bedrooms, and come up with a £250,000.00 valuation, which the other agents had relied upon.

I popped back to the house and showed the owner my findings who subsequently agreed to allow me a short contract to try and sell the property. We ended up achieving in excess of the asking price, to both mine and the owner’s delight.

Working with the customer to achieve the best possible price for a property isn’t just a moral obligation, it’s a legal obligation under the estate agents act, which we at Fry & Kent vehemently adhere to.

It’s also a two-way street, because if the owner wishes to try for a higher price than our initial recommendation then we always respect their decision (within reason), because ultimately nobody knows the exact price a property might achieve. From then on, it’s in the hands of the surveyors to certify the price — and also protect buyers from making costly errors.

Posted in: History & Architecture, Home & Garden