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How to make the most of internet resources

In recent years the internet has become an essential tool when buying and selling property, and is largely responsible for the rapid pace of the property market. This article provides information on the types of information available to help property buyers make an informed decision.

Using the internet to value your home

Land Registry Price Paid Information

One of the most useful valuation tools for someone interested in the property market available on the internet is Land Registry Previous Sales Prices. This Land Registry Data, which is made available through a number of property information websites, including, allows the public to access all Land Registry recorded sales information since April 2000. By having access to this data, potential buyers can find out the actual selling prices of similar property in their area, and make a more informed decision about the value of the offer they wish to make on the property. This is part of the same process used by Chartered Surveyors and Estate Agents, and will therefore also provide a further understanding of the property professionals you are meeting.

Automated Valuation Reports

The increased availability of property price information has led to the growth of Automated Valuation Models. Automated Valuation Models use historic property price information to bring property prices up to date using indexation. This provides consumers with a current valuation estimate for a particular property.

For more information, please consult the full article on property valuation methods.

Finding out about an area

There are a variety of websites providing information and statistics about your local area. One of the first places to look will be your Local Council Website. Your local council should be able to provide you with information about local planning, the council strategies for the future (including their transport plan, housing strategy and other areas of development). They are also likely to be a useful first port of call for information about local education and healthcare, even if they do not have in depth information themselves. They are also likely to have information on local culture and leisure facilities with ideas for family entertainment.

Further community information can be accessed through the Home Office website, such as Crime Statistics. However, websites such as collect community data, including information demographics, housing stock information and crime statistics.

Other websites describing things such as local public transport are also available (such as the Transport for London website) and can prove a valuable tool when trying to familiarise yourself with an area, and ascertain its suitability as a place to live.

Finding your property online

Property portals can be an invaluable tool when searching for property online. They allow buyers to search several estate agencies in a particular area, and to view the property details online. The online particulars will often include details such as floor plans, photographs, and in the case of some agencies, virtual tours of the property. However, there are pitfalls to relying too heavily on these internet property search engines, as they can be misleading.

Out of Date Advertisements

You may find that properties that are advertised on the website, are, by the time you see them, either under offer or sold. If you find a property online that you think is too good to be true, the chances are, it probably is. There have been numerous cases where properties have been submitted to a popular online search engine, and, after the sale, have not been removed. This means that online property viewers will be presented with an inaccurate representation of the state of the market, as the asking price attached to the property will be out of date.

Sold Properties/ Properties Under Offer

Property is transacting extremely quickly, particularly in areas such as London, and in today’s fast moving property market, estate agents have no shortage of buyers. This means, that when they receive an instruction, the agent in charge of the instruction does not have a great incentive to reach out to the wider buying audience available through the internet and in many cases, a property can be under offer or sold before it reaches the portal’s website.

The internet is useful to get a general impression of the property, and the more information that you access as a buyer, the better equipped you will be to make an informed offer on your dream home when you find it. However, the internet cannot be a complete substitute for familiarising yourself with the property market by viewing individual properties, exploring different areas and registering with and discussing your needs with as many estate agents as possible.