Seller Resources: An Appraisal to Determine Your Home's Price?


Recently a homeowner wanted to know the value of her house.

The most common reason people want to know is because they are thinking of selling, but there are other reasons. Perhaps you are being relocated and your company intends to assist you. Maybe you're thinking of a refinance. You may be intending to deed a portion of the property to a family member and need to place a value on it. There may (heaven forbid) be a divorce pending.

There are all kinds of reasons you may want to know your home's potential sales price.

A common questions is, "So where do I get an appraisal?"

You probably don't need an appraisal.

Appraisers define market value differently than real estate agents do. Appraisers focus on recent closed and pending sales. In short, they are looking backward to use data they can document. An agent is looking to the future, taking into account comparable sales, pending sales, listed prices, the market, average sales time, and available inventory, in order to predict a future selling price.

For that reason, a qualified local real estate agent will generally outperform appraisers in anticipating the near-future market price of a particular home.

Inexperienced appraisers will argue that point. Experienced ones recognize it to be true.

So how do you know the real "market value" of your home?

You ask a real estate agent.

Agents know what the market is like "right now." They know if the market is hot -- they know if it is cold. They know if your home is over-improved for the area. They can look in the Multiple Listing Service and see what has sold but not yet closed.

They have the expertise to know what your home is worth and they are willing to share that knowledge with you for.

...free. No cost. No money. Free.

If you need an agent at some point down the road, then you give them a call and give them an opportunity to tell you what they can do. That's all they want in exchange for this free service...and most perform this service very well.

Just ask for a Competitive Market Analysis.

Or...you could ask for a "CMA." Using jargon always makes you sound "savvy" and in the know.

Authors' note: Once you SELL the home...the buyer's lender will order an appraisal. If you refinance, your lender will order an appraisal. Certified Licensed Appraisers usually do a great job. However, anticipating a sales price is different from forming a documented opinion of market value. Logically...that isn't "logical." But is is true.

Copyright March 2003 by RealEstate ABC