Pricing in the Land of "No Comps"

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The Lones Group, Inc.

Pricing in the Land of "No Comps"

Agents already list confidence in pricing as one of the biggest challenges in their business. But throw a property in the mix with few or no current comparables and you might throw up your hands and declare a, "comparable calamity!"

But armed with just a few pricing tools, you can walk into a seller's home with confidence, knowing you have done absolutely everything you can to provide the seller with a  price or price range that could be supported by the market.

A "comparable" is a similar home or property which has sold recently in a similar area. However, in many areas, the market is much faster-paced than it was just a few months ago, with shorter days-on-market numbers, and with limited inventory, some areas either just don't have that many sales or don't have any comparable properties.

Or sometimes, the property is so unique, there is just nothing that compares to it.

When I was an agent, I had a number of sellers in similar situations. One seller in particular called me one day to list her home. It was a beautiful home. Gorgeous! High end finishes on a stunning piece of property. There wasn't anything in the neighborhood that could touch it in terms of quality.

If that wasn't bad enough, all the neighborhood comps I had to compare the home to were from a full eight months previous. The market had shifted in the last six months to a much faster-paced market and prices had appreciated at a faster pace than usual. I knew it, but it wasn't until I moved my focus out further to adjacent neighborhoods that I could see how much they had appreciated,  measure the appreciation, and apply that to the subject  property.

Because homes had appreciated and I knew how fast they were selling, I  priced the home aggressively and - sure enough - received multiple offers. The seller was thrilled with the result. But we wouldn't have arrived at that result if I didn't get creative and determine how else I could arrive at a market price without comparables.

Even when you do have some comparables, you can usually attain more by adjusting your focus to include more area - or more time. In my case above, since I couldn't tell what the market was doing at the focused-in neighborhood level, I made my view broader to include additional neighborhoods. As an agent, I would also make my view broader to include more time (go back not just 90 days but six months or more for comps).

When you have no comparables, you must take out your measuring stick and ask, "What can I measure with this?" And while there isn't a single measurement you can rely on in every situation, you can use these to compare against each other to "check your work".

Here are five tools I have as a backup when a traditional comperable won't do the job.

#1 Price Per Square Foot Comparison

In this document, I would not only measure the price per square foot of properties that did sell, I would also measure recent expireds. Sometimes the data from recent expireds can be just as telling - if not more so - than what actually sold.

#2 Historical Records of Sales & Appreciation

Sometimes it pays to look back in history at appreciation, not just what a property sold for. For example, say you have the following properties and the subject property in a neighborhood which all sold for around the same price at around the same time:

  Last sale date Price Most recent sale date Price Appreciation
Property 1 10/3/2003 $251,950 8/31/2012 $324,660 28.85%
Property 2 7/25/2003 $274,000 4/30/2012 $350,000 27.74%
Property 3 1/26/2004 $305,000 12/15/2012 $398,000 30.49%
Average appreciation 29.03%
Subject property 12/20/2003 $257,000 If Subject Property appreciated at this same average rate, the result would be about $330,000.

#3 Market Predictor Using Assessed Values

I love this tool because not only is a good one to have in your back pocket for situations such as these, but it also works wonders for explaining to homeowners why the market  value of their property does not match the assessed value.With this tool, assessed values of recently sold properties are compared against their final sales price. From this data, a ratio is created which can then be applied to the subject property.For example:

  Assessed Value Sale Price Ratio
Property 1 $207,000 $251,950 1.22
Property 2 $201,000 $274,000 1.36
Property 3 $219,000 $305,000 1.39
Average ratio: 1.32
Subject property $229,000 Using the assessed value analysis: $302,280

#4 Comparing Amenities

Instead of trying to look at whole properties in specific neighborhoods during a specific time period, try instead to look at just the neighborhood, or just the style of home (such as single-story, split level, or homes with a daylight basement), or even at lot size or an interesting feature such as homes with two master suites.

#5 Listing-to-Pending Ratios

This is my personal favorite. In order to get a snapshot of just how fast the market is moving (and track supply versus demand), as an agent I would track the total inventory and how much of that was "removed" from the available inventory each week with a pending. So if you have 100 homes on the market and 39 of them pend, you have a 39% listing to pending ratio.

See the chart below. When the inventory and pendings lines get closer together, this represents moving towards a seller's market with low inventory and high demand. When the lines move further apart, this signifies a buyer's market with high inventory and low demand.


I can use this when pricing property by seeing what the demand is on a whole for specific types of properties: in a particular area, in a particular price range, or a particular style of home or amenity.

This way I can look at the pulse of the market now versus the pulse of the market from when my comparables were sold, giving me a better idea of how I should price.

Don't be worried if there are no comparables that appear to be a good match to your subject property. Learn a few new tools and don't be afraid to get creative!

If you are faced with the daunting task of pricing with few comparables in your market and would like to fill your pricing toolbox, check out our Pricing System version 2.0! It is chock-full of the tools you need to price property in any market.


By Denise Lones CSP, M.I.R.M., CDEI - The founding partner of The Lones Group, Denise Lones, brings nearly three decades of experience in the real estate industry. With agent/broker coaching, expertise in branding, lead generation, strategic marketing, business analysis, new home project planning, product development, Denise is nationally recognized as the source for all things real estate. With a passion for improvement, Denise has helped thousands of real estate agents, brokers, and managers build their business to unprecedented levels of success, while helping them maintain balance and quality of life.

The Lones Group, Inc.

Re-Blogged 4 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Marte Cliff 11/10/2018 11:39 AM
  2. Fred Griffin, on leave of absence from ActiveRain 11/10/2018 05:41 PM
  3. Joyce Marsh 11/14/2018 07:10 AM
  4. Gabe Sanders 11/26/2018 10:00 PM
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Melissa Spittel
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Westminster, MD
"Achieving Results Together "

You have perfect timing! I’m meeting an appraiser tomorrow at one of my listings in the land of “no comps”. I had to go further out to determine a list price. Anxious to see if it appraises.

Nov 09, 2018 06:14 PM #2
Dennis J. Zisa & Associates, Inc.
Dennis J. Zisa & Associates, Inc. - Camden, NJ
28 years in So. Jersey and the Greater Camden area

This is all great information and insight. Working in a market that is often quite sparse on traditional comparables, we often need to think and work outside the box, as you suggest.

Nov 10, 2018 07:32 AM #3
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

I love all the tools and ideas you offer here. Agents who really want to get it right should print off your instructions and keep them handy for the next time they run into that pricing problem.

Nov 10, 2018 11:36 AM #4
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

Every once in a while there is a house that's hard to comp--I find that especially in 'the city' when the house sits on a large piece of land with smaller lots surrounding it.   That's when it's good to pull in other agents for a price opinion.

Nov 10, 2018 12:56 PM #5
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Hi Denise- while I'm not an agent, I can see how this could be helpful for any agent trying to come up with comps. 

Nov 10, 2018 04:12 PM #6
Bob "RealMan" Timm
Ward County Notary Services - Minot, ND
Owner of Ward Co. Notary Services, retired Realtor

Very good stuff Denise Lones . When you live in a State where the entire population is under 800,000 you are always under pressure to find comparables.

Nov 10, 2018 05:58 PM #7
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Everybody’s always looking for a deal in some way and real estate is no exception to that rule.

Nov 10, 2018 08:52 PM #8
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

You do have to find the little ways to compare based on population that way, it’s a totally real thing in my experience as well, Bob "RealMan" Timm

Nov 10, 2018 08:54 PM #9
Debra Leisek
Bay Realty,Inc Homer Alaska - Homer, AK

really great information. I have bookmarked and will use this at our staff meeting!  thank you

Nov 10, 2018 11:56 PM #10
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker and Attorney Licensed in DC, MD, VA,

Congratulations on your feature.  This is a very helpful explanation of various ways to price a home

Nov 11, 2018 04:45 AM #11
Chris Lima
Atlantic Shores Realty Expertise - Port St Lucie, FL
Local or Global-Allow me to open doors for you.

Congrats on your featured post.  This one is chock full of useful info.  Thanks for posting.

Nov 11, 2018 04:49 AM #12
Gabe Sanders
Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales - Stuart, FL
Stuart Florida Real Estate

Good morning Denise.  This is excellent information for all of us who work in areas where homes often come up with few or no comparables.

Nov 11, 2018 04:54 AM #13
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Denies - pricing is not a science but math/science is a part of the overall success. 

Nov 11, 2018 06:13 AM #14
Scott Godzyk
Godzyk Real Estate Services - Manchester, NH
One of Manchester NH's Leading Agents

I complete a lot of BPOs for the banks who i list their REO homes for. Most days at least 2 and  I battle no comps daily. Expanding criteria and adding and deducting are common place. I wrote lots of notes to explain the whys, the hows and whats. Congratulations on the feature.  

Nov 11, 2018 07:23 AM #15
Denise Hamlin, Broker/Owner
Cardinal Realty ~ 319-400-0268 - Iowa City, IA
Helping Happy Clients Make Smart Choices

Excellent post with some great info. I've used a couple of these strategies in the past, but not all of them. I'll need to bookmark it for future reference!

Nov 11, 2018 04:27 PM #16
Anne Corbin
Long and Foster - Lake Anna - Spotsylvania, VA
Serving Lake Anna & Central Virginia

Awesome! Thanks for a thoughtful post full of great information. Marking this one with the SAVE button. 

Nov 11, 2018 06:19 PM #17
John Wiley
Right Move Real Estate Group- EXP Realty - Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL, ECO Broker, GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

This is helpful information because we can easily get into the "land with no comps."

The appraiser is the one that will settle the issue. I find that occasionally chatting with an appraiser about topics in general I can get an idea as to how they go about comping this kind of property.

Thanks for sharing.

Nov 12, 2018 12:35 PM #18
M.C. Dwyer
Century 21 Showcase REALTORs - Felton, CA
Santa Cruz Mountains Property Specialist

Great ideas; in the end I try to think like an appraiser, adjusting recent comparables upward or downward, because that's the ultimate yardstick the price will be measured against.      It's subjective, part art, part science, part math.

Nov 12, 2018 03:10 PM #19
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce

This has become far less "automatic" a task than it was before thinventory !

Nov 27, 2018 04:12 AM #20
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

There can definitely be some pricing challenges in this market. Thanks for the suggestions.

Nov 29, 2018 05:38 PM #21
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