Why is it that some homes sit on the market for a year while others sell like hot cakes? Frustrated sellers will blame a bad market, while a good real estate professional will tell you that many times, a slow sale is often attributed to the listing price.
If a home is overpriced, buyers will stay away. But, if the price is competitive with similar homes in the area and “shows” better than the competition, it will have a better chance of being sold quickly.
The secret is perfecting a technique that’s as American as apple pie: comparative shopping.
Although comparing houses with different styles, square-footages and locations is challenging, real estate professionals still feel it’s one of the best methods to use when determining a home’s market value.
A responsible real estate agent will effectively evaluate a home’s worth through a process known as Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). Taking a look at assets, such as bigger than normal living spaces, a fantastic view, lake view, adjacent city parks and other attractions, the agent will begin to compare your home with similar properties, called “comparable,” that have sold in the area within the last six month or less. Typically, it is a realistic price range that will ensure you top dollar and a reasonably quick sale.
However, factors such as the amount of time needed to sell your home can affect the agent’s price recommendation dramatically.
I can determine the typical duration that listings are on the market and can explain that the marketing “norms” vary with prices and properties. Based on this criteria, we will be able to sell your house for a price that both you and the buyer will be happy with. However, if you’re under time constraints because of unexpected job changes or moving agreements you’ve made on another property, this will narrow your chances of selling the home for top dollar in the market.
Assuming you have sufficient time to market the home, here are a few small steps you and your agent can take to finding the right price for your property.
The best comparisons can be made with similar homes that have been sold within the last 60 days as opposed to the standard six months. Any longer, and other factors, such as the economy, could cloud your view of how much your home is really worth.
Another good benchmark is to review the selling prices of homes that have just been sold and are pending closes. Most MLS services provide information on deals pending that most real estate agents should be able to share with you.
A good rule of thumb before setting a price is to make 10 comparisons of comparable properties within a one-mile radius of your house. Once completed you can feel comfortable that the price you’ve picked is a good gauge of the home’s worth and won’t discourage qualified buyers.
Being open and honest about what you see as the home’s greatest strengths and biggest weaknesses will also help your agent get a better feel for how to best evaluate (or assess) and market your home. Think of your home as if you were the buyer. If your home is listed at the right price, you’re well on your way to a speedy and fruitful sale.
But How to Price Your Home?
How to price your home – one of the most important issues you will face. Pricing will determine, among other things:
How quickly your home sells
How attractive your home will be to buyers
How you will reach your financial goals regarding the transactions
Unless there are extenuating circumstances, such as your property’s being located in a high-risk, undesirable or unusual area, the listing price of your home will set the tone for your entire transaction.
That’s why my expertise and knowledge of your local marketplace is so helpful. I will gather statistics that quantify the prices of comparable homes in your neighborhood:
That have sold
That have not sold
That are pending
That currently are on the market
I will compare aspects of those homes against the unique features of yours. I will also analyze market conditions, the availability of mortgage funds, neighborhood reputation and characteristics, among other considerations, to create a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). The CMA provides objective information that will enable us to make an educated, informed pricing decision designed to yield a speedy sale for the most advantageous price possible.
Philosophically speaking put yourself in a potential buyer’s shoes when considering pricing. Buyers’ main considerations will be location, age of property, its condition and style and of course, price. Thinking objectively about these matters will help you and me determine a price based on fair market value — what your house is worth in the current market, not the amount you or your buyers would like it to be.
Other key aspects to consider include the following:
How soon do I want to sell my property? Statistics show the narrower the gap between the asking price and my estimate of value, the sooner an offer will come in.
How does my home compare to others in the area? As a real estate professional, I have access to details about current listed and sold properties through the Multiple Listing Service. You will be able to see how much competition there is and what effect market conditions have had in your area. You can then determine your price by analyzing homes comparable to yours in age, size, condition and location.
Is there any harm in overpricing property, then dropping the price if it doesn’t sell? Yes. To effectively price your home, you must establish a solid correlation between the asking price and the fair market value. A realistic asking price will result in a fast, lucrative sale. If your price is out of sync with the market, you’re likely to turn off a large group of potential buyers. Contrary to popular belief, a buyer usually makes an offer on a fairly priced property before making a lower offer on a listing that is seen as overpriced. Also, overpricing your home often helps sell your neighbor’s home faster than yours.
But my house is worth so much more… Emotion and pride should have no place in the pricing process. Sellers speak of value, amount invested and what they can afford “to take.” Buyers consider only price, condition and other properties offered.
Should I leave room for negotiating? Experience has shown that the closer your listing price is to the supporting comparable sales data, the greater your chances for a quick sale at or near your asking price. As a result, we recommend pricing as close to that figure as possible. If you list your home at an unreasonably high price and receive a full-priced offer, the price will be tested during the appraisal and lending process. As a result, it’s important to price your property at something statistics and the experience of the local brokers can justify. In fact, agents will miss showing your property to potentially qualified buyers simply because, at face value, your property is out of their clients’ price range.