Our variable valuations

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A Queenstown valuer warns Quotable Value rating valuations aren’t reliable when buying or selling homes.

Colliers valuer John Scobie says: “I certainly wouldn’t rely on a QV valuation.

“A QV valuation is for council rating purposes, it’s not to determine current market value.”

Acknowledging registered valuers like him compete with QV, Scobie nevertheless backs up his indictment.

Scobie analysed all 148 residential properties sold in the Wakatipu over July-September last year and compared selling prices with QV rating valuations dated July 1, 2011.

“The largest variance was where the sale price was 57 per cent greater than the rateable value and at the other extreme, a sale that was 41 per cent less than the rateable value.”

In dollars, if two hypothetical houses each had QV valuations of $600,000, the high-flying house would have fetched $942,000 and the low-flyer $354,000.

Scobie also cites a real-life example – two adjoining Queenstown Hill properties had identical QV valuations yet one has great views and the other no view.

Quotable Value southern operations manager Brendon Bodger strongly defends their rating valuations.

“The valuations are pretty good and they’re certainly not wildly inaccurate,” he says.

“A lot of the community and a lot of property professionals use rating valuations as a guide.”

QV rating valuations are only done every three years and are 12 months old by the time they hit the council rates system.

Mountain Scene: Given these timings, are they an accurate guide to market values?

Bodger: “It depends what’s happening in the market – if there’s not much movement, then they’re reasonably accurate. If there’s been a big swing, obviously the market moves on from the valuation date.”

MS: Your reactions to Scobie’s examples of properties selling at 57 per cent more and 41 per cent less than QV’s rating valuations?

Bodger: “It’s impossible for me to comment on two sales out of thousands in the district. There’s a whole range of reasons why a sale price may be well away from a rating valuation.”

Scobie says home buyers and sellers should see registered valuers.

“Buyers should get a written valuation and get it early,” he says, before making any offers on homes.

A preliminary chat with a valuer usually costs only a nominal fee – a subsequent written valuation for finance or other reasons typically starts at $650.

Sellers should also get registered valuations rather than let real estate agents price properties.

Scobie says: “An agent has clearly got a vested interest.”

A simple valuation for sellers may cost as little as $350, Scobie adds.