What affects house prices?
House prices are very area-specific so it's important to focus on activity in your neighbourhood rather than looking at national averages. Our interactive house prices map (below) shows what's happening in your postcode district.
We've focused on England and Wales as house price data for Scotland and Northern Ireland is not freely available in the same level of detail. The map works best in Chrome or Firefox.
When deciding how much to put your home on the market for, it's well worth looking at activity over time as well as current asking prices. If prices have been increasing you can probably afford to be more optimistic than if they've been decreasing or remained static.
Other factors that affect what a house is worth include:
- number of bedrooms
- parking space
- structural integrity
- wear and tear
- room layout
- any extras, eg a shed that's been converted into an office
Local factors will also play a big role in what your property is worth, from what the local schools are like through to how well the economy is doing.
If, for example, your property would appeal to young professionals and there is shortage of this type of property available, you're likely to get a higher price.
Investment in local transport could mean an increase in house prices if it will cut journey times to a nearby city. However, a new road/railway line being built in a rural area may mean a drop in property prices.
Talk to local estate agents for the inside picture on all the factors you should take into consideration.
Find out more: how to choose an estate agent
Which? Mortgage Advisers can tell you how much you can borrow and help you remortgage.
Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up your mortgage repayments.
Setting a realistic asking price
- Look in estate agents’ windows and online to see how much similar properties are on the market for - and then see how much they're actually selling for using the Land Registry website
- Invite three estate agents who have recently sold properties similar to yours to value your property, and don't be surprised if you end up with three different figures. A good rule of thumb is to go with the middle valuation or calculate an average
- That said, if you're not in a rush it could be worth trying for a higher price - then if you don't get any buyers you can take it off the market and put it back up for a lower price at a later date
- If time is of the essence, work out the minimum price you can afford to accept and then do your best to score a decent discount on the property you want to buy in order to make up the difference
It could be worth having a survey done on your house before putting it on the market. This means that you'll have the chance to fix any problems in advance, or if it gets the all clear, you can use this in the marketing to tempt buyers in.
Find out more: house surveys explained - learn about different types of surveys and how much they cost
Asking prices vs prices paid
It's very common for buyers in England and Wales to make an offer below the asking price, rather than offering the full amount. Our 2015 survey found that 73% of buyers initially offered below the asking price and 66% succeeded in paying below it, so you should factor this in when setting your asking price.
However, we also found that 5% of buyers paid above the asking price. This is more common in very competitive areas where demand outstrips supply and sellers receive bids from several buyers. If you find yourself in this situation as a seller, your estate agent will advise you on the best way to proceed.
- If you're buying as well as selling, check out our guides to making an offer on a property and buying in a competitive area
It can be hard to know where to start when looking for a conveyancer or property solicitor - so we've teamed up with a national law firm that we believe offers a conveyancing service you can trust. Find out more about Which? Conveyancing.
Correct as of date of publication.