What's it's worth ?
Valuations between estate agents can vary wildly, but a raft of high-tech
websites now give you access to the kind of detailed house price data that was
once the preserve of agents and mortgage lenders. It’s possible not only have a
nose at what neighbours have got for their houses, but look at future
predictions and even get a free online house price valuation.
Check how much houses in any street sold for
While some websites try and charge for this information. But you can get it
speedily and for free from Nethouseprices or Houseprices. Simply enter a postcode or street and they list
which properties sold and for what, plus allow you to narrow the search by house
age and style. The sites take their data from the Land Registry and the
Registers of Scotland.
To take it a step further, Houseprices also plots
houses and prices on a Google map. Just click on one of the pins and it’ll show
all the info and sale price for that particular house.
Get an instant online 'valuation'
There are a couple of sites offering free online tools that will value your
house. Yet it's important you take these with a pint pot, not a pinch, of salt.
Any slight variation from the norm and they're way off, so only use these as a
guide and a bit of fun rather than a fully reliable source.
The first to try is Zoopla.co.uk. Type in a postcode and it will give you a rough
indication of sales prices for that area. You can then select a home in that
street and answer questions to get a bespoke online valuation based on previous
sale prices and market climate; you will have to login to do this though.
Alternatively, there's Propertypriceadvice: it's slightly quicker and easier to work
through, though asks less questions. It also requires your e-mail address to get
its full valuation.
There are also paid for reports out there from Mouseprice and Hometrack
for around twenty pounds. As the accuracy of online valuations is still highly
questionable, if you want one, stick with the free ones.
Property Price Trends
For some serious data on price trends, the Land Registry’s House Price Index gives average house prices by country and
region, breaking them down into different property types. Stats geeks will enjoy
HBOS's housing research, which features its official house
price index, a regional house price map and average prices by postcode, closely
followed by Nationwide's similar research.
Property Price Predictions
No one can tell you what's going to happen to house prices, though many will
try. I remember doing an ITV News debate with a senior estate agent, and a City
economist. The first predicted strong house price growth, the other a 30% crash.
I said "anyone who tells you what will happen to house prices
is talking nonsense; no one knows". To which they both said "rubbish!"
Property is an asset just like any other, and just as no one can always call
the stock market right, the same's true of property. Yet if you're looking to
see what the pundits predict, a useful place to do that is Housepricecrash. It's an website with a pro-property price
crash agenda. Yet don’t be put off by this: it also collects statistics from
places like the Land Registry, the Financial Times and Hometrack to track house
price trends. Plus it tracks house price predictions from different experts to
give an idea of what the future might hold.
Find properties that have dropped their asking prices A clever little website, Propertysnake, shows
which properties in an area have recently dropped their asking prices, and by
how much. Type in a postcode to see who’s having trouble offloading their house
and what percentage they’ve trimmed the price by - a useful bargaining chip in
Is your house an insurance risk?
Though maybe not at the forefront of your mind, risks such as crime and
flooding can have a significant impact on insurance premiums and a house’s
value. It’s possible to quickly check how vulnerable a property is using a few
clever sites – possibly saving years’ of stress.
Check for flood risk and air pollution
The Environment Agency’s flood map at Environment-agency.gov.uk provides a more detailed report on
whether and why your area is at risk. The likelihood is described as one of
three categories, low, moderate or significant, as used by insurers. There’s
also an air quality map showing nearby pollution dangers like sewage works.
Check for flood and subsidence risks
A ten second search on Homecheck could save you
years of hassle. It’s an amazing resource, collating data from bodies like the
Environment Agency and the British Geological Survey; just type in a postcode
and it swiftly analyses the risk of flooding, subsidence and other environmental
problems. It lets you check for all sorts of nasties you’ve never contemplated,
such as landfill waste and radon gas levels.
Examine crime rates
Discover how much crime there is in your area compared to the national
average, simply by plugging your postcode into Upmystreet.com. It’ll show
you a breakdown of different crimes e.g. burglary, theft and robbery, which all
affect insurance premiums, for your area and the average for
Englan/Wales/Scotland depending on where you are based.
Cut mortgage, council tax & home insurance costs
It isn't just a question of location, location, location: saving on property
involves the cost of the debt, council tax and home insurance. Yet there are
easy ways to slash the cost on all of these.
Check & challenge your council tax band
Council tax bands in England and Scotland were decided in 1991, but often it
was done by an estate agent just driving past. It’s possible to quickly check
your band and if it’s wrong challenge and possibly get a rebate of £1000s. Read
the full Council
Tax Reclaiming article.
Get the right mortgage
Remortgaging is the single, biggest MoneySaving activity possible: the
financial equivalent of liposuction. For every 1% you cut on a £100,000
outstanding mortgage you save £80 a month. To see if you can sever the cost of
your mortgage, read either the Cheap
Mortgages or Cheap
Cut the cost of home insurance
It’s easy to slice down your home insurance costs by £100s, simply by using
websites that do the comparisons for you, then possibly grabbing hidden
cashback. In fact by following the system many people have ended up being
paid to take out home insurance as the cashback found is more than the
insurance costs. For the full system read the Cheap Home
Is it a nice place to be?
Now it’s time for a spot of detective work. Professional search agents leave
no stone unturned when investigating a potential neighbourhood: they analyse
schools, planning applications, demographics, and charge a fortune for their
services. Now the web can do the same for free at the click of a mouse.
Browse local schools
A must for any mums and dads, see the Department for Children, Schools and
Families' School League
Tables. Also check out inspection reports for schools in a particular
postcode on the Ofsted website, which lets you read local primary and
secondary school reports.
Check out new neighbours
Find out what kind of people live up your road at Upmystreet.com. Just plug in
a postcode and it generates a ‘neighbourhood profile’, listing everything from
average incomes to whether they are more likely to read the Sun or the Guardian.
At the more gloomy end of the spectrum (depending on where you live), Uklocalarea.com generates area profiles detailing quality of
life, crime rates and unemployment statistics. Or for serious number-crunching
on everything from poverty to access to services, look at the government’s Neighbourhood
Where's the pub?
If you want to know how far away your local will be or how close the shops
are, then property search engine Zoomf is a useful tool. Simply plug the details of your chosen
area into the search engine and it'll show you what's currently for sale in that
area, give you a map of where it is and by using the filters can tell you where
the shops, schools, restaurants and pubs etc are.
Check whether you’ll be stuck in the middle of nowhere with Hacienda.co.uk, which does a
similar thing. Enter a postcode and it plots local amenities on a map, including
nearest petrol stations, supermarkets, schools and transport links.
Look for transport links
New transport links can mean an area is on the up. Use the Highways Agency’s
road project search to look for new roads at highways.gov.uk.
Check for noise
For certain cities in England only as yet, noisemapping.org is part
of a government project to track road traffic noise. Input your postcode and
house number and it’ll come up with a colour coded “noise viewer map”, showing
how many decibels of noise there are at that spot.
Zoom in on a map of your house
Get a dizzyingly good view of your whole area using Google Earth, a free service
that uses mapping technology to give aerial views from space. To see everything
down to whether your next door neighbour likes to sunbathe naked, simply go to
the homepage and download its special software, type an area into the "Fly To"
box and hit Search.
Find out how close you’ll be to work or shops using Google Maps. Type in a
postcode or even a complex search such as “dry cleaners in Leeds” and a special
map will pop up with all the relevant info highlighted.
Map site Ononemap is a regular map but marks out supermarkets and
mobile phone masts. Also check out Geograph, where users
submit photos with the aim of capturing every square grid in the UK.
Find out what’s being built in your area
Will that sea view be replaced by a high rise in a couple of months? The
government’s Planning Portal helps avoid nasty surprises by displaying
planning applications made in your area. You can search by postcode and area for
England and Wales. Also use Homecheck, which does the
How far is a house from local amenities or work? There's also a very useful tool called Gmaps Pedometer, which
automatically works out how far you're walking and the calories you'll burn.
It's a little tricky to work out how to use at first, but once done it's great
for measuring the walking distance between places.