Many experts predict that home prices will continue to rise in 2018, which is good news for
homeowners. Unfortunately, all of these positive home value headlines lead some sellers to have over
Then, instead of asking the advice of a top real estate agent, these sellers approach the list price
decision with these mistaken assumptions:
Some expect to get the same amount as friends who sold in other neighborhoods. Others believe they
can add the full cost of upgrades on top of the home’s current value. And a few, who consider their
home to be the best on the block, think that they can get as much as they want—especially in a Seller’s
No matter how big the current buyer pool, overvaluing your home almost guarantees that it’ll sit on the
market or sell for less than it would’ve had you priced it right in the first place.
A lot of sellers feel like there’s that one buyer out there that’s going to pay way over market value for
their home. But that just doesn’t exist. Even if a buyer falls in love with the home, they’re still going to
be looking at the comps. No buyer wants to overpay. If they are getting financing, an appraiser will come
out from the bank, (usually about 3 weeks after the home is under contract) and he or she will evaluate
it for a fair market value. If it comes under the contract price, it will have to be lowered or the lender will
not approve the buyers loan. The buyer could pay the difference. However, put yourself in the Buyers
shoes. Would you overpay for a property? Would you have the cash to pay the difference in addition to
your closing costs and down payment?
The root of the overpricing problem lies in the fact that you—like most homeowners—love your home.
When you are emotionally attached, it’s easy to forget that pricing your home to sell is a business
decision, not a personal one.
The best way to set emotion aside when pricing is to go into the process with a clear understanding of
the factors that affect your home’s value.
4 Factors that Determine Your List Price
There are any number of factors that can affect your home value, but some have a bigger impact than
others. The top four are: location, comps, condition and updates.
There’s more than one way to look at location when it comes to assessing its impact on house value.
Your home’s proximity to amenities like schools, entertainment and even the distance to a coffee
shop can make it more desirable to buyers. Whether your home sits on a busy street corner or at the
end of a quiet cul-de- sac can also raise or lower its value. But that’s not all.
Facts that affect your neighborhood’s reputation, like economic and crime statistics, also need to be
factored into your home’s value. The best agents also consider the larger market.
According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s January 2018 report, while overall housing prices are
rising, in some regions like New England and the Middle Atlantic regions, homes are actually worth
significantly less than they were a year ago.
Location also plays a role in determining which comps your agent will pull.
Source: Federal Finance Housing Agency
Also known as comparable sales, comps refer to the prices of recently sold homes in your area.
When you pull comps, you don’t want to go into a different zip code or cross a big boundary, like a
freeway or a main boulevard. You want to pull close comps—that will start to tell the story of the
Location is only one part of pulling the right comps. Your agent will also look for comps that most closely
match the characteristics of your property, such as lot size, square footage, year of construction and
number of rooms.
When a home was last sold also plays a role. Ideally, you only want to look at similar homes that have
sold in your area within the last six months. If there are not enough comps to compare then your agent
will look back over the last 12 months but should not use older ones than that time frame as the banks
appraiser is under guidelines to look no further than 12 months old.
While your agent is pulling comps of recently sold homes, they’re also looking at your competition. The
list prices of nearby available homes (and how many days they’ve been on the market) give a good
indication of where your asking price should be set—but only if they’re in a similar condition.
No two houses are alike, even if they have identical floor plans. Any repairs or refurbishments you make,
like replacing an H-VAC system or replacing old carpeting, impact your home’s value.
Your home’s condition has such a major impact on its value that some buyers will pay up to $10,000-
$15,000 more for a well-maintained home. If it’s not in good shape, your home will still sell, but you’ll
have to list it at a lower price.
Aside from affecting its ability to entice offers from buyers, your home’s condition also factors into the
appraisal. Appraisers evaluate the house’s appearance, repairs needed, visible deterioration and general
wear and tear to place your home in one of the six property rating categories.
Source: Collateral Analytics
Top agents make a similar assessment of your home’s condition as part of the pricing process. Your
agent may estimate your condition on modestly to prevent overpricing. After all, your buyer may
renegotiate the sales price or back out of the sale if your home’s condition leads to a low appraisal.
If your home is in really bad shape, but you are not willing to list at a low, as-is price, your Realtor will
likely suggest that you make updates.
Call them repairs, remodels, renovations or upgrades, any updates you make to your home prior to
selling will have a positive impact on its value. Similar to condition (in fact, appraisers factor updates into
your condition rating), updates generally refer improvements made just prior to selling in order to
increase the list price.
Unfortunately, not all updates are equal. It’s not a mathematical equation. It’s not what you bought the
home for plus the money you’ve put into it and then it’s worth that. Certain renovations and remodeling
projects have a better return of investments.”
Many sellers discover too late that they won’t make back the full amount they invest in most updates. In
its 2017 Remodeling Impact Report, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) found that the majority
of remodeling projects that buyers want only offer a return of between 50-70%. Think of it this
way…You were able to enjoy the upgrade while you owned the home.
That makes deciding which, if any, improvements to make a tricky task. It comes down to whether or
not the cost of the update is worth the increase in your home’s value. Many of my clients call me before
making a major update for my opinion on whether it will help increase their future value.
I look at what we’re competing against in that price range to determine where we fall short or shine
above the competition. For example, statistics say the home is worth $325,000, but the seller wants
$350,000. The discussion is, “Well, we can get $350,000 but you’re going to have to spend $20,000-
$30,000 to get that extra $25,000. Is that something you want to do?”
Once you’ve gathered all the fact and data that impact your home’s market value, you’re ready to
determine the best pricing strategy for your property.
Is Underpricing a Smart Idea?
Overpricing is a bad idea even in a seller’s market. We as the seller set the list price, but the market
determines the value. If a home is overpriced, it doesn’t take longer to sell, it just won’t sell until it gets
to the right price.
But where overpricing will turn buyers off, underpricing has the opposite effect.
In a buyer’s market, listing your home below market value helps it stand out from the crowd. Bargain
hunting buyers are enticed to make offers on homes that are a good deal—as long as they’re not too
much of a steal. If you go too low, buyers may suspect that your home has major
Pricing too low in a seller’s market can also become a problem. Grossly underpriced properties in a hot
market says that the seller is angling for a bidding war and that may scare away buyers as most do not
want to get into a bidding war.
However, in most cases, moderately underpricing isn’t a major concern because the market dictates
value. Sellers who list at just below the competition, will spark a bidding war and competing offers will
drive the price up to and above the current market value.
Underpricing is also a good strategy when you want to expand your buyer pool.
We want to be under a certain price point to get the most interest for the home. If you have a home
that is worth a million dollars, you don’t price it at $1.35 million or $1.25 million. You price it at $995,000
because then you capture every buyer looking up to the million-dollar mark in their search criteria. You
cast a much wider net and expose the home to a larger buyer pool.
While slightly underpricing is a strong strategy, it’s not the only way to go.
How to Tell When Your Home Price is Right
If no one ever priced their home for more than recently sold comps, home prices would never rise,
There is no magic formula. Every home is so different. I don’t have an across the board, slightly
underprice strategy. We don’t want to overprice and we don’t want to underprice, we want to price it
right. And if we price it right, we’ll get more interest and more offers.
So how exactly do you determine the right price? Ask me to provide you with a detailed easy to
understand market analysis. We can then come to an educated price and not guess at it.
Before settling on a pricing strategy, I will do a comparable market analysis (CMA) to evaluate recent
and historical home sale trends in your area. Then they’ll assess the various factors like location,
condition, updates and current competition before they recommend a list price.
In some situations, your agent may even suggest listing for more than recent comps sold for. For
example, if local comps are older than six months to a year old, if homes rarely come up for sale in your
neighborhood, or if your property has unique or sought-after amenities, then listing slightly above
market value may be the right pricing strategy.
In a seller’s market, a home that’s priced right will get one or more offers within a few days. In cooler
markets, you’ll get a number of showings within a few weeks and an offer within a few months.
With my assistance as an experienced agent, you’ll soon be ready to set the right list price for your