Saturday, June 28, 2008

"Home-Value Web Sites Miss the Mark"

I often hear from clients or folks "on the street" that their home is worth X amount of dollars according to some online home valuation site and, therefore, should sell for more than the current market conditions seem to allow. While I'm generally a fan of free access to information and go out of my way to make sure my buyers and sellers are as informed and aware of the current market conditions as possible, I feel it is important to take a moment to share with all my opinion on these sites.

Although websites like Trulia, Zillow and Cyberhomes CAN give you an estimate of your home's value, I encourage you to remember the source. These sites pool public (county tax records) and private (MLS figures) information and use computer programs to generate their figures. These computer programs, for example, simply can't account for granite counter tops versus crumbling composite counter tops that need to be replaced. As everyone knows, your home is very different from your neighbor's or their neighbor's or the eyesore a few blocks over that is on a major road.

When a Realtor creates a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) to assess a home's value, factors such as condition, location, recent sales and the currently available inventory are taken into consideration. A good Realtor will even go so far as to verify the facts used to compile a CMA by accounting for a home's unique details in pictures, virtual tours and general descriptions. A great Realtor will make phone calls to find out why nearby homes sold for the amount they did and will even preview homes for sale in the neighborhood before they suggest a listing price.

In summary, check out these sites as you should stay informed about the biggest purchase in your life to date. However, please remember that although computers can replicate on canvas Van Gogh's Starry Night down to the direction and width of each brush stroke... they lack creativity and critical thinking skills.

If you would like a more accurate and human generated valuation of your home, email me your property's address.

For a second opinion on these websites, here's one from The Associated Press:

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