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Has your property ever been overvalued by an estate agent?

estate agents' for sale sign

If an estate agent overvalues your property and you put it on the market for that price, it could be the worst thing you do.

When you’re trying to sell your home, it’s hard to know what price it should go for.

You might get several valuations from estate agents all trying to get your business.

One suggests it can sell your house for a bit more than the others, and you’re delighted – you’re going to end up with much more money than you thought you would, right?

Well, our research suggests that if you go with a higher valuation that’s been overinflated, your property could end up selling for much less and it may take you a lot longer to move.

List for more, get less

Take the experience of one member who put their property on the market in 2011.

The estate agents’ valuations on their home were spread between £480,000 and £650,000, and they naturally settled for the top one.

Despite querying the price with the agent, they were assured that it was an appropriate starting point.

However, it took a staggering four years for the property to sell and when it did, it went for £482,000.

In that time, they changed agents twice, and the price of the property was reduced several times.

The long game

This isn’t uncommon. Our research suggests that nearly one in five properties sold in England and Wales last year had to be reduced by 5% or more in order to sell.

We also found that heavily reduced properties took, on average, up to two months longer to sell than all other properties.

What’s more, while these properties went on the market for £6,000 more than others, on average, they ended up selling for £20,000 less.

Some members we spoke to even missed out on their dream homes because the property they were selling had been overvalued.

Getting the price right

We think it’s your estate agent’s job to get the best price for your property. However, there are several steps you can take to stop being caught out by an overinflated listed price.

Firstly, make sure you get at least three valuations on your home. Then check those against what similar houses in your area have recently sold for.

You can do this by looking at properties that have been ’Sold Subject to Contract‘, or search sites such as Zoopla or Rightmove. These use Land Registry data to show you what houses in your area actually sold for.

Then, once you’ve found an agent, avoid accepting sole-agency agreements with tie-in periods of many months. There’s no reason why an agent should need six months to sell your house.

Have you struggled to sell your house because it was overvalued? Did you lose out because of it?


When we sold my father-in law’s flat, the prices in the area were controlled and kept low by one estate agent.

From what I remember, the agent promised to sell your property within a month or he would sell it for free. His selling fees were much lower than other agents, he valued properties at well below similar surrounding areas, buyers snapped up cheap properties and prices were kept down.


Would whoever gave me a thumbs down explain themselves please?

We lost money on selling the property as prices were kept low.


All sorted…

The thumb thrasher


Thank you Ian. 👍🏻

A N Agent says:
15 February 2017

As an estate agent I can quite assure readers that estate agents do NOT want overpriced prioperties on their books, taking longer to sell and skewing the local market. I looks like this journalist hads simply number-crunched and come up with a set of figures which do not, in any shape or form take into consideration any comments from either agents or vendors. I know from my own 32 years experience that at least 50% of vendors instantly disagree with agents valuations and insist that their house be marketerd at a higher figure. This is by no means the fault of the agent, who then has to carry the cost of a failed marketing campaign.

Perhaps if the journalist actually spoke to the stakeholders here rather than just crunching numbers the article would have some form of validity. As it is Estate Agents are taking the blame for a situation that is not entirely their fault. It must be said that of course there are some agents that clearly have an overpricing policy but the majority are hard-woking realists.

An Other Agent says:
15 February 2017

Also as an estate agent I would strongly say that SOME estate agents do over value and actually go out intending to over value. A lot comes down to things such as Sole Agency or Sole Selling Rights and also the length of any agreement. A large local agent to us has a 24 week agreement and a two year tie in on a Sole Selling Rights Agreement meaning that they are able to go out and over value as to them it is about market share and working on the principle that boards breed boards, and with the length of the agreement they in theory have no option but to reduce over time. We carried out some analysis at the end of January, this agent has over 370 properties listed of which only 26% were sold, this was the second lowest in the area. I would be really interested in finding out what percentage of the original asking they achieve, that may be something I look into moving forward. As a comparison we achieve 98.46% of the original asking price with a sales pipeline of 46% which is the highest in our area.

I do agree with the point that often vendors do have their own inflated valuation in mind but that is where us as agent have a moral and professional obligation to value the property honestly and use evidence to portray our experienced view.

Peter Hendry says:
15 February 2017

The housing market is inefficient and broken, with prices being forced up beyond most people’s ability to pay. It’s not simply about building more houses to try and balence supply and demand. It’s about making the housing market efficient.

The way to do this is to reform the way in which estate agents operate and this is long overdue.

[Sorry Peter, we don’t allow content that could be promotional on Which? Conversation. Please refer to our Community Guidelines for further info on commenting. Thanks, mods]

Mrs J Roberts says:
15 February 2017

Near where I live are several almost identical two bedroom apartments for sale. They all have the same view, some have been on the market for many months. The newest is priced at £305,000, but the lowest which has been on the market for a while is £219,000.
I cannot decide whether it’s the agents or the sellers who are at fault, surely if a property won’t sell at the lower price, there is no point in asking more.


As this report shows, the housing market is inefficient and broken, with prices being forced up well beyond most people’s ability to pay. This is patently on account of estate agents and their current methods and it’s not good enough for estate agents, who hold themselves out to be ‘professionals’, to blame their clients for forcing themselves into asking the excessive prices!

And, neither are unrealistic prices simply based on the need to build more houses in order to balance supply and demand. That is a spurious argument that bears no depth of scrutiny from the point of view of economics. Instead it is about improving the housing market up and down Britain so that it may become more efficient.

The way to do this is to reform the way in which estate agents operate and such reform is now long overdue.
I would be happy to provide more information about how best to do this if required, as a retired surveyor having more than 30 years experience in the landed profession.

Ex estate agent says:
16 February 2017

I used to work for a large high street agent, part of a national group. We were encouraged, no, told to go out and over value properties to make sure they came on the market with us, not just a few thousand, we’re talking 20 grand, and ‘we’ll get them to reduce after a few weeks’, knowing they were tied in for 5 months. Disgraceful and its why I got out.


I can believe it, the agent which I refer too actually employ someone whose role is to stay in touch with vendors i.e. over a period of time work on them to reduce, this is a targeted role so they earn additional pay and bonus if they hit a target on number of houses reduced and also % reduced by.

I lost out on an instruction to the said agent around 2 weeks back, it was a very simple valuation – 3 bed semi ex council house in need of general updating, partially double glazed 1970’s kitchen and bathroom but being ex council a good size with large garden and nice views, in this area £125-£130,000 all day long. I spoke with the vendors (Family members with power of attorney in this case) as a follow up, they liked our agency but they had decided to go with the other agent as they valued ‘a lot higher and want to give it a go at that price’ (£150-160,000) My two options as I saw it would be to agree to market at the other agents valuation, but then I am no better then them or allow it to go and watch it reduce every couple weeks. I chose the second option. I loose the instruction but keep my integrity.

We believe in this area that there are two agents who are going to appraisals with the intention of over valuing to gain the instruction, both coincidentally are nation wide chains, one a corporate and the other an independent,


I commend your integrity, but your post just goes to show how estate agents are controlling and pushing up the cost of property. You have 2 agents in your area over-valuing properties and possibly with reduced fees so they are setting a new higher average price for that type of property.

Likewise, when we sold my father-in law’s property, an estate agent kept prices down in that area.


They aren’t setting a higher price necessarily, they are artificially inflating the prices to gain the instruction and then working on the vendor over the long period of their agreement to reduce the price, arguably to a level they were advised to market at by other agents in the first place. I have the intention to carry out a similar report to this Which one for our area and find out the price achieved against the original marketing price.

I have not come across instances where agents would systematically ‘under value’ in an area once they have gained market share to control the market. We are in an industry where it is about supply and demand so you would assume that the prices are kept low to to the demand for each property other wise you would expect several people competing for each property thus pushing up prices. I am not saying it wouldn’t or doesn’t happen but I don’t see how you would continue with your market share if this was the case. But you know that area far more than I do obviously.