First, I am not an appraiser, but I’ve worked with many over the past several years and have been amazed by home values and how the final numbers seem to be so subjective.
I will say, to their benefit however, that getting an appraisal does seem to be the most reliable way to look at home values, by far.
It is helpful to sit with an appraiser and go over the details of what they value or at least how they come to the conclusions they do. The appraisers have many guidelines to adhere to and as of late have been scrutinized on practices because of the unscrupulous few who have abused the system.
There are several online sources for home values, but none of them take into account certain features of the home, landscaping, upgrades, etc. that could increase or, in some cases, decrease the actual value of the home. The appraiser can see, walk through and get a good feel for the property and its condition, surrounding neighborhood, etc.
So, what’s my investment property worth?
Well, I plugged in the property address, and walah! The property values popped right out like they should be written in stone as if to say, “your property is worth this amount, and you can take that to the bank.” Not so fast.
Try some of these on for size. It is fun is to compare the same exact property with the same exact information on each site. Chances are that you will find some differences, in fact, wild variances in price.
Let’s take a look at what I found.
One website had my investment property valued at $602,282.
A second site gave a value from $537,000 to $684,000. Ask a buyer to accept that range, or a lender for that matter.
A third had the property valued at $541,000.
Add to the mix a buyer offering $500,000.
It has been on the market for months and no bites. So is the property worth what someone is willing to pay? Or what I’m willing to sell it for, or what the online sources say it’s worth?
Well, the appraiser, of course, will have the final say in the matter, but the premise rings true. These online sites, while they are very interesting and may at least get you in the ballpark, going from the lowest to highest variance spanned over $184,000.00. That’s a B I G Ballpark.
Before spending the money for an appraiser, another helpful report that I use often is a CMA Report from your local and trusted Realtor. Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) gives a listing of homes in the area, similar to yours. Keep in mind that it does not take into account FSBO (For Sale By Owner) Sales so the numbers may be inherently skewed. For a full record on FSBO’s, refer to the official tax records.
The CMA compares your “subject property” against the other similar homes and can be broken down into “Active,” “Pending” and “Sold” Listings in the area. The pending, while interesting, is not as helpful because it will not list the amount of the agreed upon contract price. Pending will only offer the listing price of the home. Note also, that appraisers will usually only consider “sold” properties as true comparisons for your subject property. They will take into account current “active” or “pending” listings, but the sold properties are the ones that will pull the most weight. Just make sure you get your realtor to select the appropriate parameters per your request. This sounds like a simple request, but I can’t tell you how many times this has not been followed per my request.
Know what you want before you ask for it, and you will have more success.