Pricing a home or property may be the most challenging thing a Realtor® endeavors to do for an owner. Price it too high and the home is destined to be mercilessly passed over by the masses searching homes online. Estimate the home’s value at something less than what the owner believes it is worth and you may not get the listing. Why?
Many home owners converse with family, friends and acquaintances when considering selling their home. This produces well-meaning accolades such as, “your home is in a great neighborhood. It will sell fast”; “Your home is nice! It is at least worth (Insert Large Number HERE)”; and my particular favorite, “If I were looking for a home I would buy it”.
Armed with the confidence offered by their comrades, the owner enthusiastically goes online to get a better idea of what their home may be worth. They run aground on a website called Zillow.com. There they are confronted with this thing called a Zestimate®. What the heck is that?
To better understand what a Zestimate® is CLICK HERE.
Now there are all kinds of valuations swirling in the mind of the home owner and the real estate agent has not yet been invited.
Welcome the Realtor®. It is important for an agent to establish themselves as both knowledgeable and engaging. You see, sellers tend to list their homes with people they trust, vis-à-vis like, more often than those that are good at their profession.
In a single visit the agent has to consider the location, content and condition of the property. They must also consider the aspirations of the seller. Do they have to sell fast and if so, why? What is the story?
Having previewed the home and gained an understanding of the seller’s need and/or desire the agent gets to work. Armed with a market analysis filled with the latest and most accurate information on home sales available, the agent arrives at an estimated sale price. It is lower than what people have told the seller but higher than the erroneous Zestimate®.
The job of pricing a home, while challenging, is nothing compared to how the value estimate may affect the seller. Over the last 6 or 7 years positive value estimates that are at or higher than what home owners think, or have been told, are hard to come by. Ultimately many home owners do not know where to turn for helpful and honest information. Zillow had such success with offering Zestimates® they have taken the next step and are now predicting the future. They have added a valuation forecast looking out one year. If that were not enough, they added a rent estimate as well. The accuracy of this information is questionable at best. How can they see the new appliances, fresh paint and staging you just completed?
Many other real estate websites have followed suit after seeing the success Zillow had with offering a value guesstimate to its audience. The question that should be asked is, do these home value estimates actually assess, predict or create the actual value? If you visit 5 websites and all say your home is worth within a couple dollars you may believe it true. Suppose everyone who is interested in your home does the same. Have these unprofessional unfounded value estimates influenced your home’s eventual selling price? And certainly reconsider depending on any real estate website for anything more than entertainment.
Instead of wasting time listening to what everyone NOT in the real estate industry tells you, use the time to seek a top quality real estate professional who specializes in selling homes in your area. The butcher, baker and candlestick maker have no skin in the game. It is all about courtesy. While that is nice it often is misplaced. I would not have them tell me what medication to take for an ailment just the same. And for goodness sake, leave the Zestimate® where it belongs. With all the prognosticators who give advice or read tea leaves for their own benefit, not yours.
Count on a real estate agent who does their homework and includes you in the pricing process. This often cannot be done in a 1 hour meeting at your home. It is much more important and complex process than that. Both you and the agent do have skin in the game. As partners you succeed or fail together. Make sure you interview more than one agent. Ask for recommendations and references. Consider someone who will tell you the truth and not what you want to hear.
The butcher, baker and candlestick maker mean well. They may ask how things are going. They may even offer advice. Let them know they are great at what they do but you have found a partner you trust to help with the home sale. Better yet…Tell them to check out the Zestimate®:)
Jeffrey C. Hogue