Are Online price recommendations on target or worthless?
With all the on-line websites that are out there buyers and sellers using the Internet now have easy access to listing and sales data about homes everywhere in the country.
Savvy sellers can access sales data online to find out what specific homes in the neighborhood have sold for and come up with an estimated value for their home. How accurate are these estimates and do they replace the real estate agent?
If you live in a condo or development where your house is just like any one of a dozen others on the block the estimate you get based on others that have sold recently may not be spot on, but it's at least highly likely to be in the ballpark. But even then there are lots of things that can skew what you think is a perfectly good set of comparables. Here are some things that will effect their accuracy:
- Home improvements which are not reflected in the county records.
- A neighborhood made up of very diverse homes where the value of one is not indicative of another.
- A neighborhood spans two school districts where one is highly preferred over the other but the comps of recent sales in the area don't differentiate between them.
- A neighborhood borders one that is far inferior in value but because of its proximity the recent sales there have been used as comparables.
- A neighborhood is a densely populated area and many of the homes within even a half mile are not comparable.
- A neighborhood is a sparsely populated area and the only true comps are much farther than a mile away.
- Some of the comparable homes are short sales or pre-forclosures.
In general, the price recommendations of the on-line websites are self generated estimates done by a computer. It takes the description of a home from public records, taking into account only data which is recorded and comparing it to others via size, age, area, location and description (how many bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, etc). If the homes in the area are similar and the sales activity in the area is steady and the public data is up to date, the comps may turn out to be real comparables - or not.
A computer has no way of knowing what the property's condition is, what updates have been done, whether the purple color of the living room walls will be a turn off to most buyers, or whether the property is a short sale or possible forclosure.
To get the most up to date and accurate information you need a local real estate agent who is familiar with the homes in the area and what they have sold for. A real estate agent will be able to tell which homes are good value and which aren't, which are true comparables and which aren't. A real estate agent will know firsthand what the market is doing and what a qualified buyer is ready willing and able to pay for a home.
So in answer to my original question "Are Website Online Price Recommendations OnTarget Or Worthless?", they're a great reporting tool to let you know which homes have sold and at what price. But for an accurate picture of comparables and pricing, nothing beats your local area expert real estate agent!!
If you're thinking of selling or buying a home in Suffern NY or anyplace else in Rockland County, as an area local expert, I'll be able to help you find those true comparables so that you can price your property to sell. Give me a call.
Flickr photo by kcadams