What is a mortgage valuation?

Last updated: May 2024 | 3 min read

Mortgage valuation is the process of assessing the market value of a property by a professional surveyor or valuer for getting a mortgage approval by a lender. The lenders want to be sure that they are not lending more money than the property is worth. Read on to learn about the process, the finances involved and what to do if the valuation is lower than the purchase price.

On the exciting journey of buying your home, most people require a mortgage. A mortgage lender will begin the approval process with a valuation report of the property you are aiming to purchase.

We have a detailed article on the different types of mortgages available in the UK.

Mortgage valuation in simple terms

A mortgage valuation is an assessment of a property's value for lending purposes.

Conducted by or for mortgage lenders, the process determines the security value of the property against the loan.

The valuation involves a physical inspection of the property.

The surveyor or valuer prepares a report with an estimated market value for the lender's consideration.

The loan amount approved is based on the property's value and the lender's loan-to-value ratio policies.

Differentiating mortgage valuation from a survey

It's different from an in-depth survey such as a homebuyer survey. It focuses on the property's worth in the current market and any major faults that could affect its value.

While mortgage valuations offer a quick, general assessment primarily for the lender's benefit, a full structural survey considers more of what someone living in the property might be concerned about.

A survey provides a detailed analysis of the condition of the property, including structural integrity and maintenance needs. It is more comprehensive, examining all accessible parts of the property, and is usually advisable for older, larger, or non-standard properties.

Prospective homeowners should understand that a mortgage valuation does not replace a full structural survey's detailed insights into a property's condition. We have an article on the current costs of various types of surveys.

The role of a mortgage lender in valuation

How lenders use valuation reports

Mortgage lenders use valuation reports to determine the security of the loan they're offering.

A lender's chief concern is the recoverability of their loan.

If a borrower fails to repay, the lender must be confident of recouping the outstanding amount through the property's sale. This risk mitigation strategy directly impacts you, as a borrower.

The valuation report informs the lender about the property's worth in the current market. The lender then compares this market value with your mortgage application to assess the risk involved.

Lender's criteria and your mortgage deal

Lenders also consider factors like the condition of the property and its location. The better the condition and the more desirable the location, the more secure the mortgage offer tends to be.

This assessment can affect the mortgage offer in terms of the loan amount, interest rates, and other terms. For instance, if the lender's valuation is lower than the purchase price (a scenario known as a down valuation), the loan amount you're offered might be less than you need or expect.

Conversely, if the mortgage valuation is higher than your purchase price, it could work in your favour. The loan to value ratio (LTV) is important here. A lower LTV often means a lower risk for the lender, leading to more favourable mortgage terms for you.

The valuation process

What happens during a property visit?

Physical inspection and its impact: surveyors from the lending institution or an independent firm conduct a property visit. They examine the property's condition, focusing on structural integrity, maintenance needs, and any apparent defects.

If significant maintenance issues exist, it may affect the property's value, leading to a down valuation.

Local market activity and its influence on property value: surveyors also consider local market trends, including recent sales data and property prices in the area. This information provides context to the property's value.

High demand in the locality or recent spikes in house prices can positively impact the property's appraised value, whereas a stagnating local market might not.

Desktop and drive-by valuations

Automated valuation model (AVM) and its usage: lenders sometimes employ an Automated Valuation Model (AVM) for mortgage valuations, especially when dealing with standard, lower-risk properties.

AVMs analyse extensive data, including land registry details and historical sales, to estimate a property's value.

These models enable lenders to quickly appraise properties without physically visiting them, aiding in high-volume or remote assessments.

AVMs, while efficient, might not always capture unique property features or recent local market changes. Personal circumstances and changes in the market can affect the model's accuracy.

During a drive-by, the exterior of the property will be evaluated by examining elements such as the state of the roofing and exterior walls. A lender might feel that this will suffice for the valuation report.

Mortgage valuation and your property's market value

Mortgage valuation assesses your property's market value. This value, decided by a surveyor, forms the basis on which lenders provide mortgages.

It's not the same as the asking price, but a professional estimate.

Valuations involve examining recent sales of comparable properties, considering the current state of the property, and analysing local market conditions.

What factors influence your property's value?

Condition of the property and its effect

The condition of your property directly affects its market value. A well-maintained house often suggests lower risk and a higher valuation.

This encompasses structural integrity, cosmetic appearance, and improvements like extensions or loft conversions.

Neglected maintenance could lead to a lower valuation, influencing the lender's decision.

Comparing recent sales data and similar property transactions

Comparing your property to recently sold properties similar in size, location, and features is key. This comparison gives lenders a clearer idea of the property's market value.

Differences in sale prices can indicate how your property stacks up against the local competition. The surveyor uses this data, alongside their own knowledge and local market trends, to conclude the property’s worth.

Factors affecting valuation cost

The size and type of the property typically steer the pricing. Larger homes generally mean higher fees due to the increased time and complexity involved in the valuation.

Location also plays a part; properties in urban areas might attract different fees compared to those in rural settings.

Complexity of the assessment further impacts cost. For example, a property with unusual features or non-standard construction might require a more detailed analysis, leading to higher fees.

How much does a mortgage valuation cost?

You must check the cost as it will depend on your property. Here's an example: for a house worth up to £100,000, the cost might be approximately £200, up to £150,000, it will be £225, and up to £200,000, it might be around £250.

While certain mortgage deals include complimentary valuations, this alone should not dictate your decision. A lower interest rate mortgage, despite higher valuation fees, will yield greater long-term savings compared to prioritising a free valuation but higher interest rates.

Some mortgage deals include a free mortgage valuation as an incentive. Clarify whether your selected mortgages marked include this offer.

Higher mortgage valuation compared to purchase price

A mortgage valuation exceeding the purchase price can be advantageous for buyers. It might mean the buyer has secured a property below its market value, leading to better mortgage terms. Lenders view a higher valuation as a sign of a secure investment.

You could find yourself eligible for lower interest rates or a higher borrowing amount. However, remember, mortgage offers still hinge on personal circumstances and the lender's criteria.

Consequences of a lower mortgage valuation

A lower mortgage valuation, commonly known as a down valuation, can complicate your home buying process. If the valuation falls short of the agreed sale price, lenders might offer a smaller loan than initially anticipated.

This scenario often requires you to either renegotiate the sale price with the seller, contribute a larger deposit, or look for additional funding sources.

Preparing for your mortgage valuation

What can you do to ensure a smooth valuation process?

For a smooth mortgage valuation, ensure the surveyor has easy access to all areas of your property. Tidy up and make minor repairs. Also, prepare a list of recent home improvements and workmanship certificates for any major work done. Provide the surveyor with important documents like ownership proof and planning permissions. Including details on energy efficiency- EPC certificate https://www.netlawman.co.uk/ia/what-is-an-epc-rating, and recent utility bills can be helpful.

Interpreting the final valuation report

Examine your mortgage valuation report closely. Understand how the surveyor assessed the property's condition, local market trends, and the valuation reasoning. If there's anything unclear, consult your surveyor or mortgage advisor.

FAQs

When should I seek an alternative lender or a second opinion?

Consider a second opinion or another lender if the valuation impacts your mortgage offer unfavourably. Each lender's criteria differ, potentially affecting loan terms.

Before switching, weigh any additional costs and seek advice from financial experts to find better mortgage options.

What if my mortgage valuation is different from my expectation?

This disparity can often arise. Its reasons could be recent property market trends, the surveyor's professional opinion, and unique features of your property.

If the valuation is higher than expected, it generally benefits you, offering better mortgage terms. A lower valuation, however, might affect the loan-to-value ratio. In such cases, discussing the situation with your mortgage provider is wise. They can give insights into how the valuation impacts your mortgage offer.

Can mortgage valuations impact my interest rate?

Indeed, mortgage valuations can influence the interest rate of your mortgage. Lenders use the valuation to assess the risk associated with the loan – the value of the property against the loan amount, known as the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio. A higher valuation can lead to a lower LTV ratio, securing a lower interest rate due to the reduced risk for the lender. If the valuation is lower than expected, resulting in a higher LTV ratio, the lender might offer the same interest rate or even increase it to balance the heightened risk.

What are my options if the mortgage valuation is less than the offer?

You can negotiate the price with the seller, highlighting the valuation survey's findings. If renegotiation isn't feasible, consider contributing more of your savings to cover the gap or search for a different property within your budget.

Another option might be to request a revaluation or seek a mortgage from another lender, hoping for a different valuation outcome.

However, these steps can incur additional costs and are not guaranteed to result in a higher valuation. Always consider your individual circumstances and, if necessary, seek advice from a mortgage advisor or estate agent.

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