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Selling your home? Make sure the price is right -- Page 2

"Homeowners don't spend enough time studying how to price their home," says Ilyce R. Glink, author of "50 Simple Steps You Can Take to Sell Your Home Faster and for More Money in Any Market." She recommends getting a comparative market analysis from three different agents. Chances are they'll all be different, but they should all fall within a range. Try to identify the real estate agents who do the most business in your neighborhood. They will be most familiar with details of other houses in the area that have been marketed successfully or unsuccessfully and will be acutely aware of what impact those details had on selling price. Whatever you do, don't get a comparative market analysis from your uncle's golf buddy who sells real estate across town.

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You can try to get information from the local government different states and counties have differing degrees of openness. An online search for your local property appraiser or tax collector may give you the ability to search by address, property owner or legal descriptions.

You may also find excellent reports available from online services such as HomePrice and ElectronicAppraiser which, for a fee, will provide you with detailed property information, and a value range for the property based on comparables in the area. A free report on comparable sales in your area is available from HomeGain. A relatively new Web site called Zillow.com lets you get estimates of home values by typing addresses into a box. Another possibility: Try an Internet search for sites specific to your geographic area. Homekeys and Redfin, for example, provide estimates of home values in the Miami-Palm Beach and Seattle, Wash., metro areas.

A comparative market analysis, however, is not the be-all and end-all in determining price.

It can be incomplete or too dated to reflect current market conditions and, of course, no two houses are ever exactly the same. Also, they don't take into account subjective factors like curb appeal, an especially eye-pleasing view, or proximity to a bus stop, which explains why some experts recommend getting a professional appraisal as well as a comparative market analysis.

"Real estate agents are not professional real estate appraisers," says Supple. "Some will inflate the value of your home just to get the listing."

He recommends springing for a professional appraisal even before you set your asking price, especially if you're going to sell your house on your own without going through a broker.

But an appraiser's report could set you back $300 or more, so if you don't want to spend that much you can do some, but not all, of what an appraiser would do by visiting your county courthouse or property appraiser's office and looking up the information yourself. Many county property appraisers or tax collectors now have online search tools you can use to find the information without leaving home.

But it's a good investment for any home seller. For one thing, a professional appraisal done by a state-certified property appraiser will be required if your eventual buyer intends to finance the purchase with a mortgage. Having your own appraisal will give you an accurate idea of the maximum amount lenders will be willing to finance for the buyer.

The appraiser will first inspect your property from foundation to attic and note its features, including quality of construction and amenities. Then the appraiser will perform a market analysis that will compare your property to similar properties that have sold recently in your area. The appraiser may even call real estate agents in your area to determine market conditions in your neighborhood.

When that's all done, the appraiser will write up a report and you will know the appraised value. That is not the same as the market value, which Supple says "is the highest price that a property will bring in an open and competitive market."

It has nothing to do with how much money you may need to buy your next house, or how much money you want in order to recoup what you spent fixing up the place.

"In a seller's market, a good rule of thumb is to add 10 to 15 percent on to the appraised value," says Supple. "In a buyer's market, add 2 to 3 percent."

 
 
-- Posted: May 16, 2005
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