If you are thinking about selling your home the chances are that you will have stumbled upon the free to use Zoopla house valuation tool.
While getting a house price estimate online is very convenient, many people in the property industry question how accurate such tools can really be.
In this blog, we look at who Zoopla are, how their free online house valuation tool works and how accurate it is. We also run through if there is ever a good reason to use it, and the differences between it and its competitors.
So, what is a Zoopla house price estimate?
Launched in 2008, Zoopla is a property website which collates and provides property listings for the UK housing market. It is currently the second largest active property portal in the country, after Rightmove. And so many homeowners come to rely upon Zoopla as they search for a new home or try to work out exactly how much their property is really worth when selling.
Ultimately, the Zoopla website is owned by an American private equity firm. It earns money primarily through advertising fees and providing services as well as data to the property industry.
Zoopla offers a number of services in addition to access to property listings, including a popular online house valuation tool.
How do I use the Zoopla house valuation tool?
To generate a Zoopla house price estimate you will need to visit www.Zoopla.co.uk/home-values.
Once you are on the website, you will be asked to enter your postcode and choose your property address from a convenient dropdown list of recorded properties.
Before you can see your valuation, you will be asked to create an account. This is so that Zoopla can then market their additional services to you. You can use a pre-existing Google or Facebook account for this purpose or continue using an email address.
After you have created and logged into your account, Zoopla will show you your house price estimate.
This will come as a set of three numbers, ranging from a lower estimate to a higher estimate. At the same time, Zoopla will also provide a confidence rating. This ranks how certain they are in their estimate as low, medium, or high.
How does Zoopla value your house?
The Zoopla site uses an algorithm to work out the approximate value of your property making use of data, most of which is sourced from HM Land Registry. This data has been collected for many years and enables Zoopla to have a reasonable guess at the value of your property today.
No one needs to come to your house. The valuation is done entirely remotely by a computer. Using the Zoopla house valuations tool can be a little addictive. It can be interesting trying to work out either how much a property you used to own is now worth. Alternatively you can take a sneaky look at neighbouring property values.
The Zoopla house valuations algorithm takes your homes most recent sale price, and then adjusts it, using a multiplier worked out using many factors including:
- The recent sale price of ‘similar’ properties near yours taking into account if your property is a flat, terrace house, semi or detached
- How many bedrooms the house has and how large it is
- Local house price trends
- How close the property is to schools and local amenities
- Local crime rates
Is the Zoopla house valuation tool accurate?
The broad consensus is no. The accuracy of Zoopla’s property valuation tool varies substantially.
While Zoopla makes the majority of it’s money from listing fees paid by estate agent and not the sale of property it does not have a vested interest in inflating or deflating a property’s value. The calculator’s house price estimates are just that, estimates, and it has many limitations. After all, let’s not forget that a property is ultimately worth what somebody is prepared to pay for it. Unless you are looking at ways to acheive a very quick house sale you will more than likely hold out for the very best price at the end of the day.
The fact is the Zoopla house valuation tool cannot account for a huge number of factors which affect a property’s true value.
Sometimes, properties on one street can be worth substantially more than comparable others just over the road. This can be due to a variety of reasons, ranging from one having a fashionable address to another offering beautiful views or a south facing garden.
Beyond this, the construction and fabric of a property have a large impact on its value. This also goes unaccounted for in the Zoopla calculator.
For example, bungalows are often worth more than terraces (per square meter), as the extra privacy and easy access they offer older buyers leads to some being willing to pay a premium for them. Alternatively, historic properties can attract buyers who love particular features, such as exposed beams, and open fireplaces.
The calculator also cannot take into account the condition of a property. A house that is practically falling down is going to be worth a lot less than one that has recently undergone a full refurbishment. Zoopla also does not consider any work carried out on the property since its last sale. And so even if an extension has added an extra few hundred square feet to a property’s footprint, this will not be reflected in Zoopla’s house valuation.
Finally, Zoopla’s calculator struggles when insufficient data is available. The site can really struggle If few houses on your street have sold recently.
When is it worth using Zoopla’s online valuation tool?
While Zoopla’s property calculator can be inaccurate it can still be useful to get a free, rough estimate of how much your property is worth.
We would advise you to take any house price estimates from Zoopla with a pinch of salt.
Zoopla themselves say that it is “important to remember that the value given is just an estimate”. You should not use this figure for marketing purposes as you stand to either fail to sell the property if it is an overestimate. Or you could potentially lose out hugely if it turns out to be an underestimate.
Alternatives to getting a Zoopla house price estimate
The first alternative to the online valuation tool is actually available on Zoopla’s own website. While not a direct comparison, checking other local listings on the ‘For Sale Map’ can show you what other similar property in your area is selling for.
Similarly, the largest of all UK property listing websites, Rightmove also offers a local house price analysis tool. Despite not giving you a direct estimate as to the value of your house, entering your postcode and looking through for similar property can show you, broadly, how much yours will be worth when it comes time for you to sell.
Other online house valuation tools are also available. While some such as Mouseprice work much like Zoopla and have the same drawbacks, the estate agency comparison website GetAgent claims their calculator offers you a more realistic valuation by offering you options to customise your property.
This can be particularly useful if your home is in an area with few recent property transactions or where you have outstanding features such as a large garden or lots of reception rooms.
How to get an accurate home valuation?
To get an accurate valuation you will need a local estate agent or chartered surveyor.
Most high street estate agents offer free house valuations to homeowners who are considering selling up. While these valuations will have no obligations attached, you might feel dishonest getting an agent around if you have no intention of selling with them. You should expect a bit of pressure from them as they follow up explaining their estate agency fees hoping you list the property with them.
An estate agent will typically give you a marketing price recommendation as well as a price they expect to achieve. While these values are likely to be accurate, as local estate agents have lots of experience, they are not suitable for situations where you need an exact number, such as during legal proceedings, or for accounting purposes.
If you are looking for a valuation for these purposes, we recommend you hire a RICS registered chartered surveyor to conduct an assessment. While a professional inspection will cost you several hundred pounds, this is the most accurate way to establish once and for all the true value of your property.
The Zoopla house valuation tool is only able to provide a rough estimate as to the value of your property. These estimates will come with something of a range making it difficult to really pin point the true value of your property.
The only sure way to obtain an accurate house price estimate is enlist the services of an estate agent or chartered surveyor. Estate agents will happily provide a free valuation while chartered surveyors will charge upfront for their work.
Ultimately the value of your property will only ever be really settled once you begin to market it for sale. It is during this time that you will discover what buyers are prepared to pay for it.
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