Well below the threshold – Do it yourself (DIY method)
If the value of the entire estate (not just the property) is likely to fall well below the £325,000 mark then you could take it upon yourself to do the valuation. You could use tools available to you online such as Rightmove or Zoopla to find the recent sold prices of similar properties in the same area. You could then compare the condition of those properties to yours and make a judgment on whether they would be worth less or more than the property you are valuing. If you know of the purchase price of the property or of recent professional valuations you can also use the nationwide’s house price index calculator to see how much the property has potentially changed in value since it was purchased. If you are not familiar with valuing property this could prove too tricky and at this point you will want to seek the help of a property professional.
Local Estate Agent
You could ask a local estate agent to come around and value the property, the majority will offer this as a free service since they would be hopeful of getting the listing if the property is put up for sale at a later date.
Remember to ask them for a realistic sale price rather than an on market price, estate agents will often inflate valuations in order to secure listing only to drop the asking price once the house is on the market if it fails to get any interest.
It is also a good idea to ask for a valuation from 2 – 3 agents and take the average of them rather than just going on the judgment of a lone agent.
Close to the threshold – RICS surveyor
If the value of the estate is going to be very close to the threshold then the best course of action would be to have a probate valuation carried out by a Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) registered surveyor.
The surveyor will visit the property and carry out a detailed inspection following the guidelines laid out by RICS. They will also conduct some additional research into the local market and recent sold prices before sending you a report which will outline their valuation.
There will be a cost involved in this service but HMRC are less likely to challenge a valuation by a certified professional so in the long run the expense can essentially pay for itself.
Non-Standard property – Red Book survey
If the property does not fall into the category of a standard residential property; for example a farm, land or business premises then you will need what is known as a “red book survey” this again needs to be carried out by a RICS registered surveyor but due to the more nuanced and specialist nature requires additional time and expertise.
Alternative – secure a sale
Perhaps the best way to determine the true value of the property is to secure a sale. Although it is not possible to sell a property until probate is granted, that is when the executor is given the legal powers over the estate, it is still possible to market the property. Although you should bear in mind that any sale agreed before probate is granted cannot legally ‘complete’ and given that probate can take many months (or even longer for complicated estates) a private buyer might be put off by this wait, you may also find estate agents unwilling to take on the property due to this uncertainty around timeframes. There is an alternative to an open market sale however and those buyers won’t be put off by a potential wait and can be in a position to complete as soon as probate is granted.