Automated Farmington Hills Real Estate Estimator Cries for Help
For any kind of Farmington Hills real estate activity—whether you are buying or selling; financing or refinancing; whether for your family residence or as an investment—there are at least two value estimation figures that determine how the Farmington Hills transaction is likely to fare.
The first is a value estimate that you come up with: a dollar amount that reflects what the subject property is worth to you. That’s a calculation likely to be based on some mix of the property’s features, your own personal tastes, and your financial profile and outlook. If I’m your Realtor®, it will also be greatly influenced by the research I prepare for you: the real-world values of all the latest comparable transactions that have been taking place locally—along with the asking prices of similar properties.
That figure is one thing, but the second kind is an actual appraisal—the estimate that lenders use as the collateral value for the Farmington Hills property. That estimate is the one a professional appraiser calculates using guidelines and formulas that have been painstakingly developed over time. It’s fortuitous when the first number comes close to the professional estimate—and I’m happy to say that it’s often the case.
But since 2006 there has been a third kind of Farmington Hills real estate value estimate—one that’s increasingly mentioned in news of real estate controversies. This is the “Zestimate” offered by the website data company Zillow: a number that is arrived at via an automated system that assembles publicly available data. It’s stated purpose is “to aid potential buyers in assessing market value of a given property.” Unlike the painstaking reports that certified assessors create for a fee, Zestimates are widely disseminated to everyone for free. There is one problem, which I’ve mentioned before: the figures may be misleading.
Although Zillow claims an “incredibly low” national median error rate of 5%, last June they hailed a new improved algorithm that dropped the rate to 6.1%” [that’s not a typo: 6.1% is indeed a larger error rate than the still-claimed 5%]. Worse yet, research shows that in 10% of the cases examined, the error was 20% plus or minus…so a home with an actual fair market value of $300,000 could show a Zestimate of anywhere from $240,000 to $360,000!
Given that possibility, it’s probably no wonder that Zillow has announced a $1 million prize “to the person or team who can most improve the Zestimate” formula. MarketWatch points out that the contest was announced “just a week after a class action suit was filed against them” for offering unlicensed appraisals that hurt business—but the company claims the timing is just a coincidence.
Farmington Hills real estate buyers and sellers will undoubtedly continue to be amused by those Zestimates when they see them, but the more knowledgeable keep in mind that they can constitute eye-rolling mistakes. When your own Farmington Hills real world real estate affairs are in the offing, better to give me a call for information that won’t include any misleading automated miscalculations.
When it comes to pricing your home to sell in Greater Oakland County, you’ll find lots of “experts.” The neighbors may want you to set a high price, thinking it will make their homes more valuable. Your company may encourage you to set a lower price so the home will sell quickly and you can move to your new assignment. You might be thinking in terms of what you paid for your home, how much you’ve spent on it, or how much profit you want from it.
But who sets the price? When you put your house on the market in Greater Oakland County, you set the asking price. But it is the market that determines the selling price. If the asking price is set correctly, the house is likely to sell fairly quickly. If set too high, the house may languish on the market, unseen by the right buyers.
Pricing It Right
A correct asking price is crucial to a timely sale. That’s where we come in. But how do we know how to advise you on price?
- First, we look at the prices brought by similar homes recently sold in the area, and compare their features to those in your home.
- Then we survey the competition, seeing what homes are currently on the market, how they compare to yours and how long they have been up for sale.
- Next we look at how the number of buyers compares to the supply of homes for sale.
- We take stock of the direction of the market. Are prices rising or falling? Are homes selling quickly for the asking price?
- Finally, we look at the incentives other sellers are offering, such as paying some closing costs, and what conveys with the property, like draperies or washer and dryer.
As you noticed, neither how much you paid for your home nor how much money you wish to profit from the sale affect the market value of your home.
Avoid “Testing The Market”
Many times, sellers are tempted to price their homes a little high in hopes of getting more money from the sale. But often the opposite happens, and they sell – after a long time on the market – at a price below what the home would have sold for if it had been priced correctly at first. This is because most buyers look only at homes they can afford.
- If a home is overpriced, many potential buyers don’t bother to consider it because the asking price is above what they can afford to pay.
- Buyers who do tour the overpriced home see that it doesn’t measure up to others in the same price range.
- By pricing the home close to market value, on the other hand, the sellers make the most of their best opportunity to sell to the home’s true market during the highest traffic period – the first weeks after the new listing comes out. That’s when real estate agents call in the buyers they have been working with to see what’s new on the market.
“The best game plan is to price your home over market to give yourself room for negotiation if offers come in low.”
REALITY: Most homes sell within 5% of what similar neighborhood homes have recently brought. Pricing your home too high will actually scare buyers away. They’ll assume you are unrealistic and likely to be difficult to deal with. In addition, buyers who believe your home is out of their price range won’t even look at it.
The best way to deal with a low offer is by making a counteroffer or rejecting the contract outright. Having an experienced real estate agent in your corner will help you price your home to sell quickly, while netting you the best possible return.
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