Listing townhouse for sale (help getting started)

minneapolisiteJune 11, 2012

We are working with a real estate agent, but I am a little frustrated with the comps he's coming back. It's not the prices that bug me, but the fact that he keeps showing me recently sold 2BR/2BA properties when we have a 3BR/3BA. He seems to think they are comparable, but common sense tells me they are not.

He suggests we list it low to get it sold within the first week and bring in multiple offers. I said "I only need one offer, and our new house won't be ready until October." It's unlikely anyone is going to get into a bidding war over a townhome. We can live with family if it does sells quickly, but we're not motivated to sell immediately.

I'm not a realtor so I don't have access to recent sales, but list prices for 3BR/3BA townhomes built after 2000 range from $115,000 (a 1347 sqft mid-unit bachelor pad with dirty dishes in the listing photos) to $325,000 (a 2000 sqft former model end-unit within walking distance to upscale shopping/dining and lake views).

About our unit: It's a 3BR/3BA mid-unit with average views. Extremely nice California Closets in all of the bedrooms. Upgraded light flooring (ceramic tile, carpet that looks as good as new). Upgraded light fixtures. Additional can lights where needed. Finished garage. (I have looked at other units in the neighborhood over the years and ours definitely shows the best.)

According to Zillow, comparable units in our neighborhood have sold between $129,000 and $131,000.

What do you think we should list it for, knowing that we're not in a hurry and it is the nicest middle unit in the neighborhood? Are there other factors that I should be considering?

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Zillow can be pretty hit or miss. Also, while everything you describe sounds nice, I'm not sure how well it translates into added value.

That said, it sounds to me like you and this agent aren't working well together. Or you don't trust him, or there's some other reason that his logic behind the suggested listing price isn't working for you.

I mean, why does he think you should list low and why does he think the 2BR/2BA are comparable? He should be able to justify his reasoning.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2012 at 11:22AM
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Is he only showing your comps for 2bed/2 bath units because that's all that has actually sold lately?

If you are concerned, you should probably get a market analysis from a couple more agents.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2012 at 1:29PM
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Zillow will give you recent sales prices. On the search page, uncheck "For Sale" and check "Recently sold." Fill in the number of beds and baths you want, and use townhouse as a keyword. Or use the map, if you know the area really well. Zoom way in and most places have an icon -- the yellow ones indicate they have sales data.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2012 at 2:10PM
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Thanks @turtleshope--I did find that, but I don't know how recent they are. According to Zillow, comparable units in our neighborhood have sold between $129,000 and $131,000...but I know for a fact that the house across the street is 3BR/3BA and was purchased a few months ago, and it's still not showing up on Zillow.

That was the only 3BR/3BA that the agent showed us, but I actually walked through it when it was up for sale and it was a foreclosure in extremely poor condition.

Can I ask other realtors to do a market analysis for me without committing to listing the house through them?

    Bookmark   June 11, 2012 at 2:20PM
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I find that in our area at least, zillow lags by months from what actual recent sales numbers are. I do a lot better using the county property tax appraiser's website, although it's more work because nobody is making a list for me.

If you want to do it the zillow way, trulia is usually marginally faster in getting sales numbers posted, IME.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2012 at 2:45PM
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You can also check John L Scott's site, or other realtor sites and check "sold" rather than for sale. Not sure if John L Scott is in your area, but that has been a huge site help for me while we've been appraising.

And, yes, you can ask for market analyses from any number of realtors; though after you hear the same thing from a few, it is probably them, and not you, who are correct... But, in our area, you can ask for market analyses without signing a contract.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2012 at 2:54PM
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You can also search for "recently sold" homes on Next to the "Homes for Sale" there is a drop down menu that lets you search for sold homes.

You should always interview more than one agent and get more than one market analysis.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2012 at 3:05PM
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Thank you terriks! I didn't know about that option on It looks like my agent's suggestions aren't that off-base. I was just caught off guard when he showed up with 9 print-outs of 2BR houses and 1 print-out of a 3BR house. I don't have realistic fantasies about our house being worth more than others in the neighborhood, but I do think it's on the high end of comparables.

3BR townhouses in my area are selling for $120,000 - $138,000. I think we can get away with listing at $139,900 and I think it's realistic to hope for $130,000-135,000.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2012 at 4:40PM
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We went thru the exact samething you are going thru now last year. We had 3BR/2 1/2BA/2 car garage when most of the townhomes in our subdivision were only 2BR. Although no 3BR townhomes had sold in last 2 to 3years we felt pretty confident we would be able to sell fairly quickly. Our townhome was on the market from July 2011 to finally receiving a contract in Mar and actually closing the end of April 2012. We ended up dropping our price by about 10% but to be honest the foreclosures are what killed our comps in the area and the foreclosures were all on 2BR. Zillow unfortunatley wasnt acurate/up to date enough for us in our area so we had our realtor pulls comps from as far back as she could go just to get some idea of what a 3br would sell for.

I think your listing price would all depend on how much time you have to sell and how badly you want to get out. We had a contract contingent on sell our home on a new construction and in now way wanted any part of two house notes. Unfortunately in our area townhomes are on the bottom of the list of homes people desire as far as buyers were concerned just because with market and foreclosures a buyer could get a small detached house for roughly the same price as our townhome. We did run into this case many times with people who were looking at our home. All it takes is one buyer for your property to sell and we thank God we were able to sell. Just weigh all your options and price accordingly.

Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Our home sell/build blog

    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 7:29PM
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"According to Zillow, comparable units in our neighborhood have sold between $129,000 and $131,000. "

Zillow is not a very reliable source for pricing data.

All it can go by is distance between properties (as opposed to actual neighborhood).

    Bookmark   June 14, 2012 at 9:33AM
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I think your listing price would all depend on how much time you have to sell and how badly you want to get out.

Statistics have shown that people who overprice their homes usually take longer to sell and end up with a lower price than if they had been competitively priced to begin with.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2012 at 1:20PM
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