by Dan Krell
It has been a while since home sellers have felt optimism about the housing market. Although many would be home sellers continue to wait before jumping into the market; a combination of inventory shortages and reports of appreciating home prices are making some home sellers push the limits of home pricing.
Consideration for an appropriate list price is vital in any market. However, regardless of current market conditions, setting the right list price today could prove challenging. If your home sells quickly, you might feel as if you priced the home too low; while setting the price to high could make your home languish in an otherwise active real estate market.
Since the home seller decides on the list price, you might be tempted to use the most recent neighborhood sale or list price as a guide for your home sale. However, without deeply examining these comparables, this methodology may result in over or under pricing your home.
As public information is widely available on the internet, you might find yourself searching the ‘net for recent neighborhood sales to assist you in making a decision on a list/sale price. However, public records usually post dates of deed transfers as recorded in the courthouse, which are usually after the actual closing (sometimes several months or more). Additionally, public record home descriptions can sometimes contain incorrect or outdated data on home interiors and living area. Relying solely on data found on the internet could make you miss out on more recent and significant sale comps –again possibly leading you to under/over price your home.
For relevant comparables, ask your real estate agent to prepare a market analysis based on comps found in the local MLS (which contains real-time data). Although the market analysis is not an appraisal, its purpose is to assist home buyers and sellers in deciding on a list/sale price. An experienced agent preparing a market analysis will search for comparables that are most similar to your home by considering home factors such as: location, type, style, size, age, condition, interior amenities, exterior amenities, room count, basement, updates, etc.
Additionally, since the comparables used in the market analysis are as analogous to your home as possible, finding recent comps within your neighborhood are ideal not only because of the proximity to your home, but also because homes within the same subdivisions usually have many similarities (including age, style, lot size, upgrades, additions, as well as functional obsolescence).
Even though many home sellers are optimistic about home prices, you could still encounter appraisal issues. Appraisals are opinions of value by an independent party typically requested by lenders to verify the home’s market value in underwriting a home buyer’s mortgage application. And although appraisers use a standard methodology to derive a market value, some appraisers may exercise caution and seek the conservative value in ensuring the appraisal meets the loan guidelines. Issues can also arise when the assigned appraiser is unfamiliar with your neighborhood and surrounding area.
Pricing a home to sell has been described as a skill by some and an art form by others. Deciding on an appropriate list price not only establishes buyers’ expectations for an offer, it can also set the tone for a smooth sale or a bumpy protracted ride in the marketplace.
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This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published the week of March 11, 2013. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2013 Dan Krell.