Last weekend I met with a Realtor. I admit, the meeting was a little premature; It will still be another month or more before we’re ready to list the house. But, given that we’re putting some work into the house now, I wanted a professional opinion on where we should be concentrating, and on how much the house might be worth.
The Realtor I selected has worked with several people I know on both buying and selling houses. He’s had several listings in my neighborhood in the last few years. He’s been in real estate for many years, and works as a team with his wife and daughter-in-law on all of their listings. Overall, I’m comfortable with his opinion.
When I called him up originally, I explained that my house was small, and rather unique for my area. He laughed when he came to my house, and breathed a noticeable sigh of relief. He explained that typically when someone uses the word “unique” to describe their house to a Realtor they expect very, very bad things. Like hoarding, or homes that haven’t been maintained in decades. Neither of those apply to my house. Even with the small square footage, my house is more open than most houses in the neighborhood.
Almost a week passed, and I was starting to worry that I wouldn’t hear back from him. Then on Saturday I finally heard back from the Realtor. He’d pulled comps from recent sales in my area. Then he extended his search into the 5 surrounding zip codes. And then he extended his search a little bit farther. After extensive research, he’s comes to the conclusion that my house is worth…
Absolutely no idea.
Sigh. Not exactly the response I was expecting, but I’m not exactly surprised. It turns out, unique is exactly what my house is. Usually when pulling together comps, a Realtor can look at sales of similar houses in your area, adjust for variables that are different for your house, and come up with a good idea of your home’s value. But my house is nothing like anything in my area. I own a 1920’s house, in a 1950’s/60’s area. My house is small, but only because it has fewer rooms. My living room and kitchen, while small compared to modern houses, are larger than the cramped living rooms and galley kitchens in my neighborhood. And who has a 10 x 10 laundry room? Half an acre may not seem like much, but it’s 3 times what most of my neighbors have.
As I mentioned in my last post, most of the houses that have sold recently in my area have been in dire need of some work. The furnace, air conditioner, water heater, and all of the appliances in my house are new. The roof is only 7 years old, and has a 25 year shingle. The siding, gutters, and porch are all new. The kitchen is newly remodeled, and by the time it hits the market, the bathroom will be too, along with all new windows. I refinished the old hardwood floors to save money, which is unheard of in my vinyl and carpet neighborhood. And the granite tile kitchen counters (which I did because it was cheaper than special ordering laminate counters for the odd corners)?
The good and the bad of my house make it really hard to compare to anything else in my area. On the plus side, the Realtor feels that the tax assessed value of $48,000 is really undervaluing my house. But the question remains: By how much? So, what do I do from here? His recommendation is to wait until I have the house closer to market ready, and then having an appraisal done. The downside is that appraisals cost money. The upside is that it will give us an idea how a bank would value the house, which should help head off issues if the buyer is looking to get a mortgage on the house (and most buyers would be).
The true value of my house right now is whatever someone is willing to pay for it. Realtors try their best to pinpoint that number through various calculations. But the reality is, sometimes that number is a little harder to estimate. I’d rather pay a little more upfront (for an appraisal) to create an accurate listing that doesn’t over or under value my house.
The only thing to do now is push ahead on getting the house ready to list!
– Cindy W.