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June 1, 2023

Why property valuations are best left to a professional

  Compiled by myLIFE team myHOME November 17, 2020 52

Are you looking to sell your house or flat and buy one that’s bigger or in a better location? How can you be sure that the asking price is fair and realistic? Delphine Romano, Head of Property & Marketing at Royal Properties SA, explains why it’s important to base a valuation on specific criteria so that you have an accurate idea of how much your property is worth when you come to sell.

Ms Romano, what are the circumstances in which you would recommend having a property valued?

It’s a good idea to request a property valuation as part of the selling process. If a homeowner is thinking of selling, they should ask a market expert to calculate what their property is worth. “Calculate” may be too strong a word, though, since the buyer has the final say. The expert’s role is to give the seller an indication of what they believe would be a fair and realistic asking price.

So, why is this in the homeowner’s best interests?

This process gives the homeowner an idea of what their property is worth based on a series of criteria relating both to the property itself and to other properties that have been sold in the same neighbourhood. The estate agent can also indicate how easy it will be to sell the property and how long it might take for the seller to achieve their goals.

Who should I contact if I want to arrange a property valuation?

It is important to contact an industry professional – ideally one who works locally. If you’re selling a flat in Mersch, for example, it would be a good idea to choose someone who knows the market well and covers the area where the property is located. Nowadays, all agencies have estate agents who can provide valuations.

Delphine Romano – Head of Residential agencies at INOWAI

It is important to distinguish between the various types of valuation on offer in Luxembourg.

How much will I need to spend?

That depends on the agency. As a general rule, valuations are provided free of charge to homeowners with a personal interest in the sale of their property. Some agencies may still charge a fee, though. It is important to distinguish between the various types of valuation on offer in Luxembourg: expertise immobilière, évaluation and avis de valeur. An estate agent will provide an opinion (avis de valeur), whereas an évaluation issued by a real estate expert might be required in the context of mortgages, legacies and calculations of net worth.

What factors do estate agents take into account to produce an accurate valuation?

We consider the property and its surroundings, including the street and the neighbourhood as a whole. Valuation criteria include the year in which the property was built, the finish, the number of bedrooms and any adjoining annexes. We prioritise qualitative information.

Is it a good idea to request several valuations?

It is possible to rely on one valuation. Watch out for agencies that quote a particularly high amount, though. The goal is not to please the client by producing a valuation for the price they expect – it is to calculate the fair value of the property. One valuation would be enough, but homeowners are often keen to compare several. My advice would be to not necessarily choose the agency that quoted the highest price. It’s interesting to compare several opinions side by side, but you should ultimately select one agency. Having several agencies sell the same house or flat is counterproductive and it doesn’t give a good impression of the property.

I’m considering an online valuation. Will I be able to trust the results?

Thanks to algorithms, today’s online valuation systems are fairly advanced in terms of data archives and information on past sales in the local area. However, an online valuation is still fundamentally one carried out by the homeowner themselves. It will be based on the information they provide and reflect the way they see the property. It is important, therefore, to have the results confirmed by an estate agent to ensure that the online valuation was properly produced and the criteria filled out correctly. The process is still quite subjective. Automated valuation systems are also less accurate for properties whose characteristics or location make them unusual.

How can I avoid the potential pitfalls and ensure that the price quoted by the estate agent is correct?

It’s important to compare several agencies and then make a choice. Clients today are looking for an adviser rather than a salesperson. That makes them most likely to choose the estate agent they trust and see how they intend to get the best possible price for the property. And, when it comes to maximising value, concrete actions matter more than words. You know you’re dealing with a high-quality professional when they provide you with a file prepared in advance, take the time to visit your property and think carefully about its value.

Beware of any agencies that value a property without visiting.

Should an on-site visit be carried out as a matter of course?

Ideally, yes, an on-site visit should be carried out as a matter of course. It would be difficult to estimate the value of a property without seeing it. You can look at the neighbourhood, but this won’t tell you how well communal areas are maintained or whether there are any renovations to take into account. So, you should beware of any agencies that value a property without visiting.

As a homeowner, can I increase the asking price for my property with a view to selling?

For flats, this is mostly a question of decoration and home staging. I wouldn’t recommend carrying out major renovation work just before selling up, though, since you might not get back as much money as you invest. In this case, it would be better to leave the property as it is so that the new owner can carry out whatever renovations they wish. It’s ultimately a matter of personal taste. Small, inexpensive changes such as a lick of paint can change the feel of a property entirely. That said, they won’t add EUR 50,000 to the asking price.