Home Values – Who Knows?
I recently had a conversation with a salesperson from a large, national online home search provider who, when I objected to their use of an automated estimate of home values, defended it with a vengeance. I simply couldn’t get him to see that including this estimate of value on their website, is not only very questionable in it’s accuracy, it’s actually a disservice to both consumers and Realtors alike. My point was this: The local, licensed professional Realtor or Appraiser ought to be the one who provides this information, as they are in the best position to provide a quality information in their opinion of a property’s value.
Here’s my argument: There’s simply is no replacement for the expertise of an established and licensed local professional when it comes to something as important as determining the current value of a home. When estimating the value of a property, there are factors taken into consideration that simply can’t be included in an online, automated valuation system. The careful selection of comparable sold properties, as well as taking note of the subject properties type and brand of windows, roof type and condition, type and condition of flooring, floor plan, heating and air conditioning brand and type, as well as the type and quality of surrounding homes in the immediate neighborhood, are all factors in the valuation process. In other words, it’s more than just square footage, number of rooms, and lot size that is factored in when matching a given property with sold comparables. These more intricate factors I mention can only be observed and considered in person while visiting the home. If they are doing their job correctly, both the Realtor and the Appraiser provide this perspective when doing a value estimate of the property.
Additionally, consider the fact that when many of the questions we have are “Googled”, we’re taken to the advice of a professional, or at least an experienced PERSON who can, because of their expertise, give us a quality answer. Contrast this with the stock answers given in the “FAQ” section of a given company’s website, and I think you will agree, the personal touch of an expert is far superior. My guess is that it’s because the “FAQ’s” and supplied answers are generated by some company algorithm, or some such. In fact, I’ve rarely ever been helped by a “help” section of a website, I always go to a forum hosted by people who actually know what they’re talking about based on training AND experience.
So when you’re interested in determining the value of a given property, my advice is to contact a local, licensed Realtor and ask for a professional opinion of the property’s value via a Comparative Market Analysis, or CMA. Most Realtors will provide this report in written form free, or for a minimal charge, depending on the circumstances. Often, this person winds up being a great contact for you for additional information about the local market should you move forward in buying something, or decide to list your house. A licensed, professional appraiser can be hired to give you the best possible value opinion of your property. This is a more expensive avenue, typically $400-$500, but might be the best thing for your situation. In regard to the buying process when you’re looking at properties that are already for sale, a Realtor can do a CMA for you on the property in question, helping you to determine what your initial offer should be.
Finally, both the CMA, and the Appraisal, normally include an onsite, in person review of the property. Obviously, this type of professional, hands on evaluation of a property can never be done by an online automated system, and therefore is far more reliable and informative..
Thanks for reading!