Estate agents values vary too much

HOME sellers in Suffolk could find their property has been overvalued.Consumer group Which? has said estate agents could be overvaluing properties to get business.

HOME sellers in Suffolk could find their property has been overvalued.

Consumer group Which? has said estate agents could be overvaluing properties to get business.

Researchers for the group posed as sellers and invited four different estate agents to view a three-bedroom bungalow in Suffolk.

There was a difference of almost £30,000, or 14 per cent, between the highest and lowest valuations - £220,000 and £249,950.

An Ipswich estate agent said he would not expect to see such a big difference.

Colin Girling, spokesman for the Suffolk branch of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), said he would expect valuations to only vary in the region of five to ten per cent.

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He said: "Really there shouldn't have been a 14pc different, but if there was something unusual about the property, that could account for it. If you have a property that is not run-of-the-mill, it's more difficult to put a value on it.

"Overvaluation does happen with some of the national (estate agents). That's because they employ people who get a commission for getting a property on the books.

"I don't think undervaluation is a problem, but I think some vendors need convincing they are not going to get the price now they would have done 12 months ago.

"I don't think the government could stop it because, at the end of the day, it's an opinion of value and we all have opinions."

Researchers for Which? also invited estate agents to value 13 other homes across the county.

The biggest discrepancy occurred in Tyne and Wear, where the four valuations of a three-bedroom house ranged from £200,000 to £325,000 - a 63pc difference.

The lowest discrepancy was on a three-bedroom flat in London, where the three valuations varied by only three pc.

Author of the report, Pete Tynan, said: "Touting for business, deliberately overvaluing, is a common problem, according to a property expert questioned by Which?

"Some agents give high valuations to get a customer's business, then suggest a more realistic price once they've locked sellers into a contract."

The group also warned that undervaluing a property is a problem.

Which? last year launched its campaign for estate agents to be regulated and a proper redress system set up.

Has your home been overvalued or undervalued? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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