House Valuation

A house valuation is an inescapable part of buying or selling a house. It also form an essential part of the process of switching your mortgage. How much does a house valuation cost these days? What can you expect to get for your money? And how much is your house worth now?

How Much Does a House Valuation Cost in Dublin?

Out of curiosity, I emailed five different estate agents in my local are to see if there was a difference in price. There definitely was not. All five of them responded with a price of €150 inclusive of VAT.

Will the Bank Pay for my House Valuation?

Some will, some won’t. I recently applied (and failed) to switch my mortgage from AIB to Ulsterbank. I was very interested in their 2.3% fixed-rate mortgage product. As part of the process I had my house valued by a local estate agent. Ulsterbank paid for the valuation which is good because, as I said above, they generally cost €150 a pop.

What to Expect from a House Valuation

I took an afternoon off work to be at home for the valuation, afterwards I was pretty glad that I did not have to pay for it. The guy from the local estate agent showed up on time but spent less than 3 minutes in the property and only asked me one single question “does it have gas or oil central heating?”.

As he was leaving I asked him “how do these things cost so much?”. His immediate response was that “it should cost more because you have to go to college”. This is Ireland. A very high percentage of our population goes to college, but who leaves college thinking they should get paid €50 a minute? I don’t have any insights into why valuations cost this much but I know from experience what it feels like – a total rip off. And I didn’t even pay for it!

I would guess that this kind of valuation for a mortgage switch doesn’t require much. I imagine that the bank only needs someone impartial to confirm that the building is actually there, in good order and as described by the applicant. I just wonder about the price the consumer has to normally pay, is it different when you sell your house?.

My experience with the estate agent seems very different to one detailed in this Irish time article from 2006 (a very different era in Ireland!) where the writer describes the cost and value of their valuation:

“A colleague who recently had a country property valued for refinancing purposes paid €150 plus VAT for a two-hour consultation with an agent which included advice on developing the property and information on recent sales within a 20-mile radius.”

What is my House Worth in Ireland Right Now?

I specifically say Ireland here because the property market inverted a few times in the last decade. I bought my house in 2012 for €144,000. Most people would agree that this was the bottom of the housing market in Dublin. Since 2012, the property market changed dramatically alongside the recovery of the economy. At the time of writing this article, Dublin is experiencing a shortage of housing. This has driven up prices and made life miserable for a lot of people. This Daft Report from the first quarter of 2019 illustrates the increases well.

So before I opened the valuation I Had a Figure in my Head. Question is, was I right?

Yes. My best guess turned out to be pretty damn accurate and how did I guess so accurately? Turns out I did exactly what it appears the estate agents did. I looked at and the property price index for similar properties in my neighbourhood. How much does a 3 Bed Semi-Detached house sell for around here? Turns out the answer is €240,000. (I paid €144,000) Or I should say, that is what it is currently valued at by my local estate agent. 

Because of the current lack of housing and buyer competition, it may sell for more if I was to put it on the market. I also expect that figure to go down in the future when the amount of available stock catches up with demand. I also have it firmly set in my head that another crash could send the value plummeting again. It happened before, so it could happen again.

What Does a Valuation Look Like?

I know I wasn’t a paying customer but, both the bank and the estate agent said I could have a copy of the valuation. I took three reminders to the estate agent to get my hands on a copy. When I called their office, the girl sounded like she had just woken up and didn’t even ask for my name when she said she would send on a copy. It took two more phone calls to get it.

So what was in it? Well take a look for yourself. Download a copy of it below. The latest valuation is far more detailed compared to the one I got when I first bought the house. If I recall correctly, that one had a single page with a number on it and the company logo and stamp. I’d like to know if the difference between the contents of these two house valuations is due to a change in legislation, or have estate agents collectively upped their game or perhaps it is just because this particular estate agents gives this level of detail?

Download a copy of the valuation I received and have a look
Note: All personal information has been removed.

What Will Revenue Have to Say About This?

You can’t look at a valuation that shows that your property is now worth 65.5% more and not wonder about what the lovely people at revenue think. Two things spring to mind:

  1. Capital Gains Tax
  2. The Property tax

Capital Gains Tax will only be applicable when I “dispose of the assest” (sell me gaff) but since I have turned my house into a tax-free passive income stream I won’t be selling up any time soon.

The Property Tax question is more interesting due to the timing of when I bought my house. I had a valuation to show that I was in a certain “value bracket” when the tax was introduced in May 2013. I “levelled up” since then but the property tax payment that I pay did not increase. This is because it is only up to Revenue to collect the tax, not to set it. That is a job for the Government and Local Authorities. The government avoided making a decision on this twice already and what will happen remains unclear. This Irish Times article gives a good overview of what is happening and an interesting insight into the households who don’t pay property tax at all.

Image Credit: © Willie Duffin and Mike Searle (This website is pretty interesting if you are into geography, super specific stuff)

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