What to Do If the House Valuation Is Less than the Offer

When a homeowner decides to sell their property, the first thing they do is find out how much it’s worth. Most people invite several estate agents to visit their homes to conduct a valuation before fixing an asking price they feel comfortable with.

When you accept an offer on your home, if the buyer requires a mortgage to buy the property, the lender will conduct their own valuation. This guide will explore what to do if the house valuation is less than the offer. 

Avoid this problem by selling to a cash buyer. Contact us for a no-obligation cash offer.


What Is a ‘Down-Valuation’?

If your buyer’s mortgage surveyor values your home for less than the offer you have accepted, the difference between these two figures is the down-valuation. 

For example, if you accept an offer of £200,000, but the surveyor’s valuation is £180,000, you have received a £20,000 down-valuation. 

How Common are Down-Valuations?

In 2018, the BBC reported that down-valuations were at their highest rate since the financial crash of 2008, and almost 400,000 house sales were affected by down valuations in 2021.

Making an accurate valuation is difficult in the current climate because valuers can’t know how much a property will be worth in a few months due to the uncertainties caused by COVID. Also, due to buyer demand, it’s often a case of how much someone is willing to pay for a property than what it’s worth. As a result, estate agents may be more inclined to play it safe and give a modest valuation. A surveyor must be able to evidence their valuation on paper because they can be sued for overvaluing a property by the lender. During uncertain times, surveyors are more likely to undervalue a property to reduce the risk of being sued several years down the line if a lender feels they have incurred losses because the property was overvalued.

When Do I Find Out about a Down-Valuation?

Unfortunately, down-valuations only arise when a house sale has already progressed, which is why they can be so problematic and often result in delays, lost money and failed sales.

Although a buyer generally has a mortgage in principle before making an offer, they won’t apply for a mortgage until after a sale price has been agreed. The mortgage in principle indicates how much the buyer can borrow — which gives peace of mind to the buyer and the seller — but it is not a mortgage agreement. Once an offer has been accepted, the buyer will have to start the mortgage application process, which can take between 18 and 40 days to complete. A down-valuation will only come to light at the mortgage-valuation stage when a surveyor values the property. 

You could be almost two months into your house sale when the discrepancy in property valuations comes to light, which is why a down-valuation can be so problematic for both the buyer and the seller.

Learn about the Benefits of Accepting a Cash Offer on a House in our handy guide. 


Why is a Down-Valuation a Problem?

The Problem for Sellers

Down-valuations can result in a failed sale.

If your buyer’s mortgage provider values your property at a lower price than the accepted offer, it will affect the amount of money they are willing to lend. This is because the size of the mortgage available to a buyer is a percentage of the purchase price or the lender’s valuation — whichever is lower. When a property’s estimated market value is less than the agreed sale price, the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio effectively increases. The higher the LTV, the more reluctant lenders are to approve a mortgage because it is deemed to represent greater risk — LTVs over 75% are considered high risk by most lenders.

If your buyer can no longer secure the mortgage needed to purchase your property, they may be forced to pull out of the sale.

The Problem for Buyers

If you have agreed to pay more than a valuer says a property is worth, you may be unable to proceed with the purchase even if you are happy to do so.

If you’re a cash house buyer, there will be no problem. However, if you need a mortgage to buy your dream home, you will struggle to secure the loan you need. You may be willing to take on the risk of paying above market value for a property than a surveyor says it’s worth, but most mortgage lenders will not. If you receive a down-valuation, then the loan you have applied for exceeds the lender’s maximum loan-to-value amount, and they are unlikely to approve it. 

How Are Properties Valued?

An estate agent will consider similar factors when valuing a property as a surveyor will. However, the two can come up with very different figures. This happens for two reasons. Firstly, estate agents often inflate their valuations in a bid to secure your business. Secondly, surveyors are typically bound by rigorous inspection criteria and conduct a more thorough valuation than estate agents.

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) applies the International Valuation Standards when surveying a property. An RICS valuation of a property will take into account:

  • The property’s condition
  • Supply and demand in the local area
  • Comparable prices for similar properties sold locally
  • The current property market.

A surveyor conducts their mortgage valuation on behalf of the lender. Whereas an estate agent has the seller and potential buyers in mind when reaching their valuation. This, along with differing perspectives of the prevailing market, can lead to discrepancies and down-valuations. 

Read our practical guide on How to Value a House to get an idea of the realistic market value of a property you want to sell or buy.

What Can You Do If Your Property Is Down-Valued?

When a property is down-valued, the buyer will have to find a new mortgage lender or pay the difference between the down value and the selling price. If neither of these is an option — or the new mortgage lender also values the property at less than the agreed price — the buyer will have no choice but to pull out of the sale. Some lenders will also allow a borrower to appeal their valuation. 

As the seller of the property that has been down-valued, you have a few options to consider:

  1. Find Another Buyer — If your buyer has to pull out of the sale because they cannot secure the mortgage they need, you could wait for another buyer to come along and hope their lender does not also down-value the property — or, if this happens again, that the new buyer is in a position to make up the difference. As you will have already gone through a considerable chunk of the sales process with the initial buyer, delaying the sale further may be unappealing.
  2. Wait for the Buyer to Find a Solution — If the buyer expresses a desire to resolve the problem — by applying to a different lender, finding additional funds from other sources or appealing the lower valuation — you may decide it will be easier and cause less delay to wait for them to find a solution to the problem.
  3. Renegotiate the Sale Price — The buyer may try to renegotiate the sale price to cover the difference between their offer and the valuation provided by their lender. If you’re part of a chain and have your heart set on buying another property, it might be worth forfeiting some of the proceeds on your current property to avoid losing your dream home.
  4. Sell to a Quick House Sale Company — If you can’t afford to delay the sales process or start again from square one, a quick house sale company can help you sell your house in line with your preferred timetable. Whether you need to relocate in a hurry for a new job or don’t want to lose out on buying a new property, House Buyer Bureau can provide a simple, hassle-free and fast service. We can complete the entire sales process remotely. All we need is a little information from you, and we’ll take care of the entire sale. You won’t receive the full asking price for your property — we make our income from buying houses at a discount and selling them — but you’ll save on estate agents and legal fees, not to mention enjoy a hassle-free guaranteed sale. We have the funds to buy any type of property in any location and can offer completion in as little as seven days — once you have accepted our formal offer, the sale is guaranteed.

If your house sale is delayed or fails due to a down-valuation, we can help keep your moving plans on track.


Contact us to find out more about our services and get your cash offer.

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Getting your no-obligation cash offer is easy. Just find your address and answer a few quick questions about your property. Sell your house in weeks instead of months and with zero hassle — you could even sell in as little as 7 days.

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