Pull Comparable Listings and Sales
- Look at every similar home that was or is listed in the same neighborhood over the past six months.
- The list should contain homes within a 1/4 mile to a 1/2 mile and no further, unless there are only a handful of comps in the general vicinity or the property is rural.
- Pay attention to neighborhood dividing lines and physical barriers such as major streets, freeways or railroads, and do not compare inventory from the “other side of the tracks.” Where I live, for example, identical homes across the street from each other can vary by $100,000. Perceptions and desirability have value.
- Compare similar square footage, within 10% up or down from the subject property, if possible.
- Similar ages. One neighborhood might consist of homes built in the 1950s next door to another ring of construction from the 1980s. Values between the two will differ. Compare apples to apples.
Total square footage is an important consideration when establishing a home’s sale price, but this is usually just a starting point for buyers who will use it to narrow down the field, but make an actual purchase decision based on many other factors. There are some general rules of thumb to know when considering a home’s price per square foot, such as smaller homes generally get a higher price/foot than large homes, and single stories will sell for a higher price/foot than a two story.
Location within community:
Homes that back up to a busy street get, on average, 10-20% less than homes elsewhere in a neighborhood. Anticipate this type of obstacle and factor it into the original sale price to avoid inevitable price reductions down the road, which reflect poorly on the listing and will likely cause it to sell at a lower price than would have been realized had it been priced properly at the onset. Quiet cul-de sacs, golf or water frontage, lots that offer privacy are value adds that can certainly justify a higher sale price than other homes in a community – or be leveraged as an advantage against competing listings.
Views…or lack thereof:
Whether it is the ocean, a downtown skyline, the mountains, water or some other desirable landscape, buyers are willing to pay a premium for views and a home should be priced accordingly. Just be realistic. A view that can only be had by standing on the counter from the second story looking out the window to the left simply doesn’t count, and it’s inadvisable to dupe a prospective buyer by adding this to the listing’s MLS description.
Upgrades and features:
It’s a simple formula: upgrades = sold. For a home to sell quickly and for the price desired, it must be “finished” with as many structural and interior design upgrades as possible…and nothing’s too small to leverage in establishing a home’s price point. From crown molding to faux paining to door handles and cabinet handles/knobs with modern finishes, to more obvious upgrades such as appliances, window, counter, cabinet and floor treatments, to swimming pools and surround sound wiring…any functional or beautification enhancement to a home are considerations in establishing its true value and strategic sale price.
Guard-gated communities or those with amenities such as a clubhouse, swimming pool and/or fitness center are also elements that often raise a home’s price per square foot. When pricing a home without these benefits, know whether you are competing against other homes that do offer such value adds so that you can price your home as aggressively and competitively as possible.
Price your home referencing sold comparables -price per square footage of other homes that have already sold in your community – up to 3-months old maximum, as looking beyond 3-months is simply not a realistic portrayal of current market conditions and may steer you in a wrong direction. It’s also as important to compare your listing to active competing listings – homes currently for sale, which is the best tool for honing an effective pricing strategy – particularly for highly motivated sellers.
Sellers often frown on the idea of paying for an appraisal before there’s even an offer on the table, but doing so is actually one of the most important things a seller can do in pricing a home relative to current market conditions. Want to sell the home quickly? Price it at or below the appraised value as buyers are educated, are shopping deals, and will recognize your fair price and be more apt to pay it with less haggling.
Current mortgage conditions:
The current mortgage market has tightened its proverbial belt and many lenders now require higher credit scores coupled with higher down payments, which can cash strap a buyer who will most definitely be holding out for the best deal possible. Every seller naturally wants to get the most money for his or her product, but a savvy seller will understand the mortgage industry’s impact on the buyer and will price accordingly.
Get a home inspection before you place your home on the market. Your Buyer will almost always have this done and when they find an item broken or in ill repair it just raises a lot of questions in your buyers mind. Get any items corrected up front and mitigate these items becoming a part of price negotiations. This usually saves you much more than what it costs and usually makes for a faster closing.
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