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How to improve the surveyor's valuation

THE QUESTION

I’m looking to refinance a property as soon as possible to release cash tied up.

Similar properties on the same street sell for £95k and I purchased mine at £75k and spent about £5-6k on the refurbishment (painting throughout, new carpets, new kitchen units, new electrical wiring, new toilet and basin).

However, I’ve just heard no one took the requested before photos so I’ve got no photographic proof of what it looked like pre-refurb (and I can’t show off the refurb either!)

Will this present a problem if I try to re-value the property to a higher amount?

THE ANSWER

It helps to understand the mindset of the surveyor who will be visiting your property and that will be very much to value any recently bought property at the purchase price paid, unless given compelling reasons not to.

Such as:

  • Planning permission gained
  • Structural alterations that increase the footprint i.e. an extension
  • A cosmetic internal refurb

The degree to which you get the uplifted valuation you desire will be the degree to which you have managed to shift the surveyor's focus.

Being present on the survey is vital. If you are not there, you have no influence.

Having a fully-documented works schedule prepared is essential and talk them through what you have done. I would suggest that providing receipts and costing is potentially dangerous, in so far as, the better you have done on keeping the refurb costs down, the more you are shooting yourself in the foot by revealing them. Better to have them available if challenged, but otherwise keep them to yourself. Surveyors will pretty much be able to ready reckon the costs from a works schedule, BUT they will do so based on what a builder would charge for the work and you may have come in well below that.

Before and during photos are important for any future projects, but you can’t turn back time for this current deal.

If the property is not already tenanted it is important to 'dress' the property. That might sound daft, but a furnished property (even if it is just for the valuation day) subliminally looks worth more than a property with just bare walls. Even if you think it won’t work, what have you got to lose, it is not going to make it look less valuable is it?

Now, comparables are a must, BUT only if they are the right comparables.

Any comparables that you provide will be largely ignored by a surveyor, as you have a vested interest in 'talking up' the value and the surveyor is very aware of that.

Equally, any estate agent 'valuations' will be treated with nothing less than a bucket of salt. They are given by an unqualified person (albeit 'in the trade') with the irrefutable aim of being at the top end of optimistic as their objective is to secure the contract to sell the property. Agents and surveyors are clearly at opposite ends of the valuation spectrum.

For comparables to be respected, they must be from someone qualified to give them, and that is from another surveyor; equally qualified to the lender's surveyor. The most important thing you can do to influence your refinance valuation is to get your OWN survey report done, before the lender's surveyor gets anywhere near it.

Your own surveyor is working for you, not for any lender. You still give your surveyor all of the above and they will produce your own survey report; which then forms part of the pack you present and discuss with the lender's surveyor.

This is the key component for shift their focus away from the purchased price paid. Now it is much harder for them to produce a report that differs from your report to any great degree.

 

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