Anyone up for some number crunching on comps?

weedyacresNovember 6, 2011

We're selling an out of town house (rental in a city we used to live). We're selling it FSBO, as there's an excellent, widely visited local FSBO site. So I'm crunching numbers on comps to come up with a listing price. I'm a bit of a math geek, so I've sliced and diced 22 different ways. If any of you would be so kind as to "check my math" and offer opinions on whether I'm looking at this correctly, I'd appreciate it.

I pulled sales data for the past 12 months, looking for houses in the area (1/2 mile x 1 mile area) of the same vintage (built in 1940's and 1950's, some back to the 20's) and found 33 comps. This is the city with the best schools in the larger metropolitan area, so these homes are the cheapest way to get into the school district. They've held their values pretty well, were flatish for a couple years when the downturn hit, and are now trending modestly upward (compared last 6 month sales with 7-12 months ago). Realtor friend of a friend says houses There's no simple answer to what the right price/sf is. The average is $104 and the mean is $107, but the range is $61-$136, with 82% in the $80-120/sf range. So I sliced and diced to try and separate out the factors that cause this range (other than, of course, condition, which unfortunately isn't available info). Here's what I found:

-Homes with basements (even if not finished) sell for more per square foot than homes on a slab.

-Homes with less square footage sell for more per square foot than homes with more square footage. There's a downward trend in $/sf as square footage increases, presumably because the extra space is in bedrooms and or living areas, not additional kitchen or bathroom space.

-Additional bathrooms or half baths do add to $/sf, all things being equal. i.e., 3/1's sell for less than 3/1.5's, which sell for less than 3/2's.

Our house is on a slab, is nearly 1300 square feet (at the higher end of the comps, as it had some sf added on), and is a 4 bed/1 bath, though one of the bedrooms is itsy bitsy (as the 3rd bedroom is in most of the comps). It has a completely new kitchen and bathroom as well as new carpet, and is spit shined to as perfect as you can get a 50-year-old house with all its "character" and 13 layers of paint everywhere. It also has a 2-car detached garage, which only 2 of the comps have (most have 1-car garages). We're including all appliances: stove, dishwasher, microwave, washer, dryer, and fridge.

-3 bedroom homes average $100/sf, with 3/1's averaging $96/sf.

-homes on slabs average $94/sf

-homes over 1000 sf average $88/sf, or $93/sf if you throw out the lowest 2 comps, in the $60's.

-there are only 3 comps that are 3/1 on a slab, and they average $89/sf. Two of these comps are >6 months old. The third one sold in August for $109/sf.

Though not desperate, we want to price it to sell quickly, balancing that with not leaving money on the table. My thought is to price at $89/sf, which is about $115K. That seems priced-to-sell aggressive, as it's the lowest reasonably justifiable price, and condition should be in the above average range.

I know one other way I need to approach pricing is that people generally shop in price ranges, so what will they be looking at in addition to ours, and how does ours compare. I could use some help evaluating that, as I'm not sure how best to approach it. It's in zip code 52722, if you want to do a search on Also, see QCFSBO, particularly this listing, which happens to be a very close comp, just around the corner from ours, and of similar size, vintage, and configuration.

I can post photos of ours if that would be helpful.

Any feedback on my methodology would be appreciated.

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weedy I think your slicing & dicing is a good start, but you might want to consider breaking out lot size (if there are significant differences in your zip code) and house conditions if you have a large enough sample size.

My DH is a number cruncher too. He and I have been crunching numbers on my town and the town next to us for the past 6 months or so. All numbers are based on actual sales, which we then use to determine if a new listing is within the right ballpark for us to consider buying.

What DH did was to separate out the lot size from the house size. The size of the lot varies quite a bit, from 5000 square feet to nearly an acre, with most in my town at around 10,000 square feet and most in the neighboring town at around 8000 square feet.

He also assigns a premium to the location. So a lot on a quiet street near a park or a school, for example, would be given a factor of 1.1 or 1.2. A "regular" lot would be 1.0. A lot on a busy street might be a 0.9. A lot backing on to a highway with lots of highway noise might be a 0.8. For example, a house in an ok neighborhood on a 10,000 square foot lot would be assigned a value of 10,000 x the baseline $s per square foot of lot. That same house next to the highway would be assigned a value of 10,000 x baseline x 0.8 to obtain the value of the lot.

He calculated a baseline dollars-per-square-foot-of-lot by looking at the (few) empty lots that had sold and extrapolated from that. That baseline has held up pretty well during all of this analysis.

As it turns out, the lot is typically 50-75% of the total cost in this kind of calculation. Not that it's related, but it's in line with our assessment for property taxes as well.

Now coming to the house, square footage is key but so is the condition of the house. A house built in the 1940s and renovated in the past 5 years would sell for much more per square foot than a house built in the 1960s and never renovated, or renovated with a bad 80s kitchen. We have seen almost every house on the market in our zip code so we can sort of "date" all the houses that have sold.

We add the price per square foot of lot to the price per square foot of house to get to the total price for the house. For sales, we already have the total price for the house so it's a matter of checking to see how well the model fits the actual data. For houses currently on the market, we apply that formula (with some tweaks for "real age" of the house) to come up with what we consider the value of the house.

Hope that helps - let me know if you want more details.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 12:54AM
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You aren't looking at comps, you are looking at asking prices. You need to be looking at Solds within the past 3 months.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 6:36AM
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I would only look at sold comps for the past 3-6 months. 12 months is too old.

Do some research online to find the old listings that might have photos or mention condition of the sold comps.

Given what you have now I would ask $107/sq foot and here is why

1) 2 car garage. Some folks that would only consider a home with a 2 car garage. They will pay more for it.

2) The 4th bedroom. If the school district is a draw, then folks with kids are wanting into that area. Plus most folks want a bedroom for an office/computer room these days. The 4th bedroom could get them to want your home over all others and pay a small premium for it.

3) The condition is top notch. Realize many of those comp homes probably needed updating and some were likely worn out on the inside.

4) Appliances are included.

Your only negative is no basement and 1 bath. But the 2 car garage and 4th bedroom make up for this.

Realize that prices are trending upward. You are using old comps which are forcing you to price too low. Use only comps from last 3-6 months but also price given your key features.
IMO, you might price so low that you sell on 1st day and leave lots of money on the table. I still think you will sell quickly with a proper price because you have several key factors that will increase your pool of buyers (2car garage, top condition, 4th bedroom, appliances)

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 8:26AM
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Your only negative is no basement and 1 bath. But the 2 car garage and 4th bedroom make up for this.

One bathroom in a 4-bedroom home would be a big negative for me. A double garage wouldn't help that!

I didn't realize comps were based so much on square footage - learn something every day :-)

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 9:43AM
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I've been out of the business a long time now, but I doubt the basic appraisal process has changed. Comperable SOLD properties are compared to the property being appraised. Adjustments are made based on the value of the items in the particular market. Example - if buyers typically pay $2000 for a l/2 bath, comp has l/2 bath more than subject then an adjust of -$2000 would be made to the comp. adjustments would be made for all differences to come up with a bottom line value for that particular comp. At least 3 comps would be used. The appraiser would make a decision of value not on an average of the 3, but which is most like the subject and required the fewest adjustments. Example - bottom line values 95000, 102000, 120000, comp with 102000 value is most like subject with fewest adjustments so probably at most 105000 for subject value. Each area of the country is different. In some areas a lack of a basement would be a severe defficency. In others, not so much. In general an attached garage would be worth more than a detached. It would probably be money well spent to have the property appraised, but even that is not a guarantee of value only an estimate.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 10:54AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Yeah, the lack of a second bath is an absolute killer in value when you get to 3 bedroom homes, much less 4 bedroom ones. It will dramatically lower the value of the home when compared to others. Could you possibly turn that tiny 4th bedroom into a small bath? Would you even want to take on such a project, or would you rather just price it low and get rid of the headache?

Forget what others are priced at. What is the least amount you'd take for the home? Assume that you will end up paying the buyers costs and a few throw them a bone repair expenses. What is that amount? Add 10% to it, and that's your bottom line price. IF the RECENT sold comps support it, add another 10% to it and start your price there. That will give you room for a market drop if needed, and room for some cushion in negotiating. And if the condition is OK, it will get it sold.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 11:08AM
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The 33 comps are all SOLD comps (within the last 12 months), not listed comps. I know better than that. :-)

On the land, these are all pretty small lots: most are .11-.14, with a long tail up to .23 of an acre. Ours is .17. I sliced and diced on lot size and couldn't find a correlation between price and lot size or between those on the 2 busy streets in the comp area vs. those on other streets. And on the tax assessments, land value is about 20% of total value. AK: what would your DH do in this scenario?

There are 10 comps in the past 3 months. Tossing out the highest ($130/sf) and lowest ($69/sf) as aberrations, that results in a $102/sf average. Only one is on slab (The 3/1 that sold for $109/sf in Aug, but is only 660 sf). So I need to do some adjusting for the basement factor...I think I need to do a multi-linear regression analysis on all these contributors.

How does one go about finding condition photos of sold comps? I'd appreciate some pointers.

The people that require 2-car garages and second baths probably aren't going to be looking at our house and the comps. They'll be shopping the split levels built in the 60's and 70's, and paying $30-50K+ more for them. We've got a rental nearby that's a 3/1 with 912 sf and a family of 5 is living in it. It's definitely not a market that I understand, because it's not me (am I spoiled or what?), but there are a fair number of people that do. We are physically capable of putting in another bath, but it's logistically difficult because we're 400 miles away.

Sweet Tea: I'd love to sell for $107/sf, but that would price it at $138K, and there's no way we'd get that...for that you can get a newer split foyer/tri level with a bigger kitchen and probably another bath. That would be overpriced for the neighborhood and age of home. Alas....

gerri: you're right about how appraisers run the comps. My math to group/average different features was my attempt to approximate that. I'm going to try my hand at the assessor's method offline.

FWIW, here are a few photos.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 1:13PM
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Is the roof really that lumpy or is that some sort of photographic anomaly?
Because that would scare me away immediately.

And fall is a great time to plant shrubs.... just sayin'.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 1:51PM
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Foget the price/sq ft method for a moment. What are all the SOLD prices in that neighborhood for the past 3 months, followed by what it is.(3/2/1cg bsmt, 3/1/1cg slab, etc)

To find condition, google the address and see if Zillow or another MLS comes up. It might have photos and comments from prior listing even if it sold already.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 2:23PM
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Get rid of all comps except the ones from your neighborhood w/in the last 3 months. Only go longer than this if you have to, and then adjust. Start from there.
The listing you provided has more appeal than yours does, and everything has been replaced w/in the last 3 years. This home will sell before yours if you are only $3000 lower. I would call these sellers and ask them how long the home has been on the market for $115000. Pretend you are a buyer. If the home has been on the market for longer than you want to be, then price yours lower. (of course, this is considering there are no oddities which do not show up online)The only thing I saw odd are the washer and dryer are located in the kitchen. Where are your located?

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 2:48PM
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Square foot area is not one of of the larger selling point, and is at best a gross metric more suitable for commercial leasing.

Even appraisers only adjust if there is a large difference.

You need sold and closed prices.

'For sale' type places are rarely a reliable source for these numbers.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 3:03PM
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The roof isn't lumpy, they just used darker shingles on the lower part.

I agree the comp I linked has better curb appeal and is better staged. We won't be adding plants or rented furniture (the feasibility of long distance), and just take our lumps for that.

I will do some more number crunching this evening. But here's where our washer/dryer are (view from the sink). None of these houses have laundry rooms.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 3:13PM
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If most of the competition has washer and dryer in the kitchen, then it is not a big deal.
As far as sq. ftg., I adjust for anything over or under 100 sq. ft. After all 100 squares is a small room.
How long has our neighbors house been on the market? This will tell you more than all of the other analysis that you have done so far.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 4:49PM
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About the different color roof shingles. Looks like they needed to fix the roof or replace and they chose to go cheap and got mismatched shingles on the edges. This is a big issue...especially since you don't have trees to lessen the effect.

The messed up roof can be see from the road. All lookers will see it before they preview the home and photos will show it. This is going to scare away a lot of buyers. Snow will be your friend, as it will hide this flaw.

Maybe your original low price makes sense - as the roof is going to deter a lot of folks from this home so the price needs to great.

Seems the overall condition is not as good as originally mentioned due to the mismatch shingles on the roof.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 5:06PM
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OK, here are the "immediate neighborhood" comps in the last 3 months:
A: 1330 14th: 3/1.5/1 car, bsmt, 1206 sf, .18 lot, $122,900
B: 1611 Robeson: 4/2/1car, bsmt, 1332 sf, .17 lot, $92,000

A has photos online, some updates but original kitchen cabinets.
B had no photos I could find, but that's a really low price, so must have serious condition issues.

Let's play assessor on comp A:
( 8,125) bsmt sf @ $25/sf x 325 sf
1,000 2-car garage
(1,000) half bath
$114,775 with no adjustment for kitchen

Going further back in time, here are more comps from 4-6 mo:
C: 1219 16th: 2/1/1 car, slab, 792 sf, .16 lot, $95,000
D: 1621 Lincoln: 3/2/1 car, bsmt, 1008 sf, .23 lot, $98,000
E: 1116 16th: 3/2/1 car, bsmt, 912 sf, .19 lot, $115,000
Condition not available anywhere I could find on any of these 3.

Play assessor on comp C:
25,200 add 504 non-bath sf @ $50/sf
1,000 2 car garage
$121,200 adjusted price

Comp D:
14,800 add 296 non-bath sf @ $50/sf
(3,000) 2nd bath
1,000 2-car garage
(8,750) bsmt sf @ 25/sf x 350 sf
$102,050 adjusted price

Comp E:
19,200 add 384 non-bath sf @ $50/sf
(15,000) bsmt sf @ $25/sf x 600 sf
(3,000) 2nd bath
1,000 2 car garage
$117,200 adjusted price

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 9:35PM
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One more comp, 7 months ago in the immediate neighborhood:
F: 1111 15th: 3/2/1 car, slab, 1505 sf, .17 lot, $124,000
I did find some photos here
(10,450) 209 non-bath sf @ $50/sf
(3,000) 2nd bath
1,000 2 car garage
$111,550 adjusted price

OK, more thoughts? If you think my assumptions ($/sf for basement and main level space, bath value, etc.) need adjusting, please pipe up. There's some variation in the above, but they average $113,355.

I assigned Mr. Weedy to call the FSBO comp around the corner. He think it has been for sale for several months (recollection that he's seen in the past 2 trips he's made up there).

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 9:36PM
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Hi weedy,
DH's suggestion is to find out how much the price per square foot (or per acre) is for land that can be built on in your area. Since you say most lots are in the .11 to .17 range, are there any lots for sale of that size? Or even a half acre? That way you can calculate a baseline land price as a start.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 12:19AM
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I haven't crunched what you have posted, but it does seem that you are placing far too much emphasis on $/sqft. That is just one method of estimating value, and certainly not the primary one (or else my re-fi appraisal would have been much higher - and remember an appraisal will be important if your buyers need financing)
See what your numbers look like using the sales comparison approach, weighting the previous three months comps, but use 6 months if that will give you better, closer comps. This is the method where you start with the most recent simllar sold home and add or subtract $$$ amounts for features. If you can find a recent appraisal in your area, you can find out what amounts are used for some things, for example, second bathroom may be worth $3000, while a third bath might be only $2000. Add or subtract for the garage or basement, landscaping, sq footage, view, location, etc.
And as others have mentioned, if you want a quick sale, you'll have to factor in the listing prices of homes currently on the market and their conditions, features, and locations.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 7:39AM
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I cannot get over that bad roof. How much for a reroof?

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 7:41AM
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AK: There are zero lots for sale in this part of town. It's the older "city core" that was fully built up years ago. All the lots are in newer and nicer neighborhoods.

c9pilot: The method you describe is what I just posted last night. Did you read that posting? Any thoughts on my methodology or valuation? FWIW, I dug up an appraisal on our home and the appraiser valued square footage at $30/sf, basement finished footage at $20/sf and bathrooms at $1000.

And if you can give me tips on how best to factor in the current listings, I'm all ears. NC mentioned finding out how long a close comp has been on the market as an indication, which makes sense. The others in this price range are not real close comps (neighborhood further away, different style house, etc.), so I don't know how to factor them in.

sweet tea: Bless you for your concern about the roof. It'd probably be $3000 or so to replace it, but it's really in decent condition. Maybe the pro photographer will make it look better. :-)

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 8:47AM
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IMO, the roof might be in decent condition for functionaility(does not leak, etc). But aesthetically, it is in bad shape. Kind of like a fuschia house or neon interior walls or an outdated kitchen or mismatched siding.(they still work as functioned)

IMO, take $10k off the price of the house for that roof. It will scare away many buyers. Those that it doesn't scare away will want a great deal due to the roof. In this case, the negative of the bad roof is a greater deduction than the cost of a new roof. Even if they are told it works ok, who wants a roof with mismatched shingles unless it is someone that is looking for a great deal.

I could be wrong. Let's hope I am.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 9:58AM
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In my area of the urban South, that would be a 75K home in a working class neighborhood. (Rural, or in a poverty class neighborhood, it would be a 40K house) It would be an 85-90K if it had that second bath, and maybe 100K with a basement. But, it is so utilitarian looking, and has no curb appeal. The roof is a major turn off. That will take it's price down.

If you are not willing to do any changes to it long distance that would increase it's curb appeal, then price it low. Use the lowest price neighborhood comp and subtract 20K for the lack of a second bath, basement, and poor appearance. The problem you're running into is that most of the comps HAVE that second bath and basement, so it's considered a neighborhood norm, while yours is the exception to the norm. That takes the price down even further than if it were a fify fify mix of slab and basement homes. Since the "average low" of the neighborhood appears to be around 95K, price it at 89K and expect to take 79K. And be done with it!

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 11:37AM
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How are you going to sell it FSBO when you are out of town?? When potential buyers want to see a house, they want to see it now. If they can't, they will just go look at something else. Trying to sell it yourself from out of town could end up costing you more than the realtor's commission. Buyers look at FSBO because they expect to get a better deal since the seller isn't paying commission. They might expect an even better deal since you're trying to sell from out of town. All of your number crunching is fine, but the reality is you don't really know how much to adjust for things like baths and basements. You're guessing. If you overprice it, it will sit on the market for months. In your situation, you're likely to net less trying to sell it yourself than if you listed it with a realtor. If you're determined to try to sell it yourself, why not let a few realtors look at it and tell you when they think it's worth. You can list with one of them later if you don't have any luck selling it yourself.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 2:03PM
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Maybe your pics don't do it justice, but what is with the turquoise colored paint?....the kitchen needs some help by removing the wallpaper and adding some color on the walls.

I would never even consider buying a 3/1, let alone a 4/1.
Depending on where you live makes a huge difference on the garage...some places you can leave the vehicles out, but if you are someplace that has nasty weather, not only is a garage needed, but having it attached to the house is a plus.

I too, think you need landscaping badly...and the roof is really not inviting from the road....this house lacks curb appeal badly...IMHO

Good luck...and I agree by being out of town, you might benefit from the use of a realtor.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 2:19PM
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"In my area of the urban South, that would be a 75K home in a working class neighborhood. (Rural, or in a poverty class neighborhood, it would be a 40K house) It would be an 85-90K if it had that second bath, and maybe 100K with a basement. But, it is so utilitarian looking, and has no curb appeal. The roof is a major turn off. That will take it's price down. "

Same here in my area of PA.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 2:53PM
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If you want to maximize dollars:
1. Paint interior with nice earth tone colors, and paint that dated wood trim. The home needs color badly.
2. take down wallpaper in kitchen.
3. Landscape the exterior... it will take peoples eyes off the roof, and add a ton of curb appeal. Use lots of fresh mulch.
4. Power wash the drive.
5. Paint the gargae... I see fade spots all over.
6. Get rid of mirror above FP... It is dated.
7. Shove the fridge all the way back against the wall. If it already is, then store it in the garage once it is on the market. It makes the kitchen look really small. Do not use this picture for marketing!
8. Put in all 100 watt light bulbs. (Of course, saftey first)
If you do all of this, market it for $115000. (you will still have to wait for the neighbors home to sell first). If you want to not prep it for sale, then market it for about $95000 - $99000.
I give you kudos for knowing quite a bit about adjusting... And normally a full bath in this price range would be worth about $3000, and a half bath about $1000. BUT, this rule does not hold up when you are comparing a 3/1 to a 3/2 or even a 3/1/1. Buyers really want that bathroom #2! In this scenario, that extra bath, especially the full bath, holds not only more value than the rules say, but just as important, it holds a lot of marketability. I'd give a full bath here at least $7500. The home right down the street from you listed for $115000 has nice colorful fresh paint, two FPs!, new HVAC (2010)woodstove (2009), tilt in windows (2008), landscaping, matching roof (2010), new fence (2010), new wood floors (2010), new carpets in all brs (2011), shed (2009), patio (2007). You REALLY need to find out more about how long this home has been on the market, and then adjust what I have advised above accordingly. Really. This is a SUPER comp, that can tell you a ton about the value of your home.
Also, when you are adjusting for differences in sq. ftg., do it this way: find out the dollars per sq. ft. of the comp. Then find out the differences of the sq, ftg. between the comp and your home. Let's say the difference in size is 200 sq. ft. and the comp sold for $100/sq. ft. You then multiply the these together to get $20,000. BUT WAIT! This is not the adjusted value! You have to do the last step of dividing this # by 3 (always divide by the # 3)The reason for this is because you are already adjusting for things like # of baths, upgrades, condition, kitchen, etc, so you can not do a straight adjustment on the square footage, since some of that sq, ftg. difference you are already making adjustments to. So you have to divide by three to make up for this. I hope that makes sense. This is how the appraisers do it. Your $50/sq. ft. # that you are using is giving you a bit high valuations when it comes to your valuating the sq, ftg. differences.
Also, do not worry over the differences in lot sizes... there is not enough difference here to worry about.
One more thing... are you sure that the price of those SOLD homes on that FSBO site are the actual closed price. They may be the list price still. If they are the sales price, be careful. Sellers love to fudge this # since they know it is going to be seen by the public.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 6:22PM
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That may be true, but that's not the case in this corner of Iowa. Heck, I'm getting flack for using comps a half mile away. I can't start pulling in data from TN and PA! :-) FWIW, in the neighborhood my company is located you can pick up a house like this for $25K. All of that is irrelevant.

You guys are piling on about the condition and curb appeal. I completely agree with all of you that this is not a gem of a house. I would never buy it/live in it myself for a thousand reasons. But we're not selling to people like me. We're selling it to families that want their kids to go to good schools but can't afford anything bigger or newer. We're trying to make it a better value (combo of condition and price) than the other houses in the neighborhood.

So, let me take you on a tour of the neighborhood so you can see the competition.

Here are the next 4 houses up from ours. No, they don't make you go "ooh, aah":

Here are the 6 comps I referenced in my earlier post. Unfortunately these just show the outside, not the inside, and there are widely varying inside conditions, which is kind of the wild card in any appraisal.

Green: I was a little surprised by your remarks, because you usually offer well-thought-out advice. In this case, you just start with the lowest price comp (assuming ours is worse than that, despite the complete interior update) slashing $20K for a basement and bathroom, (which are way more than an appraiser would adjust for them), then take a price that isn't the average ($95), randomly hack off $6K, then assume someone will only pay $10K less than that. I'm trying hard to glean useful ways to analyze, but when a 2/1 on a slab that ain't no glowing beauty from the outside (comp C above) sold for $95K, how do you come up with $16K less for a house with 1/3 more space?

Phoggie: where are you seeing turquoise paint? The "wallpaper" in the kitchen is actually thin paneling, which we put there to cover up irrepairable walls. These houses are all aluminum (yes, even the walls), so while they're very durable, they're not always easily beautifiable. Again, NOT my choice in design, but that's what we all deal with in this neighborhood.

Oh, one more observation that seems relevant. On GW, we tend to be very savvy buyers, with a higher level of taste. My stepson and his wife recently bought a home. It's a split level (which I would never consider), and where I saw dated 70's cabinets, they saw a large kitchen compared to where they were living. I saw small bedrooms and a single bathroom (they have 2 young kids), but they were planning out ways to decorate the kids rooms. I saw a low-ceiling basement, but they were envisioning a bar and home theater setup. My point is, the supposed "flaws" that I saw weren't a big deal to them, as this house was better than where they had been living and they could envision making it a home. I think that similarly, the potential buyers for this house are probably living in a place with one bathroom and no garage. So they won't be as discerning as all of us.

They may indeed be turned off by the roof. Or they may get excited by the cool built-in pantry that pushes back into the wall to reveal the utility area, or be relieved to finally have a washer and dryer in the house that they don't care much about the roof. We have worked hard to make the place very clean so that it isn't dragged down by a 60-year-old grunge factor that can exist in places like this. There is plenty more that we could do to make the house more appealing, but based on what I know of the neighborhood and the potential buyer pool, I'm not sure that those things would make a big difference. I may be wrong, and I guess time will tell. And at this point we've decided not to go any further with improvements. I think we've taken care of the biggest issues (again, you guys may be right on the roof), and it'll have to be good enough.

One more photo: Here's the one very comparable current listing, with photo from the assessor's website (left) and listing website (right). Amazing what a good photographer with a wide angle lens can do. We'll see what he manages with ours.

As for the FSBO logistics part, the next door neighbor (retired) will let people in, and I have an attorney lined up to do the paperwork. If I were seeking professional help on pricing, to be honest I'd pay an appraiser before I'd hire a realtor, as the realtors I've used have shot from the hip on pricing. But appraisals aren't rocket science, and thus my original posting, saying "help me make sure I'm looking at the numbers right."

So if anyone's still reading and has specific feedback on my "play appraiser" number crunching, feel free to chime in.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 8:00PM
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OK, I spent so long composing my last post that NC chimed in while I was absorbed. I agree with all your suggestions on cleanup. Quite frankly we were super focused on the inside because it was a mess (tenant's abusive ex-boyfriend had his way with a baseball bat and cans of saving grace of aluminum walls), and didn't scrutinize the outside other than to clean the windows and replace the storm door, mailbox and porch light. Sigh...always more work to be done. Just not an easy way to do it.

Did I mention that "dated wood trim" on the baseboards is aluminum with 16 coats of paint? :-) Keep up these suggestions and I'll have to reveal the other 9999 things I dislike about this place.

I do find it interesting that you'd value relatively inexpensive fix-ups/clean-ups at $20,000, though. Like my response to GreenDesigns, I can't see our house bringing only the same as Comp C.

All numbers were pulled from the assessor's website, not advertising sites, so they're actual sales figures.

BTW, on the bathroom thing, many here have concluded that 2 baths is the norm for the neighborhood. It's true that only one of the 6 "near" comps was a 1-bath, but from my larger neighborhood sample of 33, 2/3 are 1-bath, so it's more common in the neighborhood than it might seem. But, based on the $7500 value suggestion, I filtered 3/1's and 3/2's separately and found this on prices:
3/1 avg $107K, avg 1122 sf (range 858-1428)
3/2 avg $112K, avg 1090 sf (range 911-1505)
So I'm going to call a 2nd bathroom worth $5K in this neighborhood. And I'll re-run my comp numbers with the revised bath and sf adjustments tomorrow when my brain's not so tired.

I've still got a dilemma over adjustments for condition, though, since I don't know how most of the sold comps looked inside. I tend to just figure we're above average since everything's new, so it may not feel "designed" but it feels fresh and clean. The one around the corner is very useful to watch, though.

BTW, for all of you, we're readying the home where we live for sale soon, and it needs to appeal to the most discerning of buyers. So please hang around for a month or so and I'll hopefully have preliminary photos to post for critique, and will much more eagerly take on suggestions for tweaking. And I can hopefully redeem myself in some of your eyes for being able to design and stage properly instead of this "lipstick on a pig" stuff we're dealing with.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 8:52PM
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OK, the math geek in me is gleeful right now. I think I've nailed this appraisal thing. I re-did the comp analysis above, using $30/sf for main floor space, $20/sf for finished basement space, and $5000 for an additional bath (2500 for 1/2 bath).

What I found:
Comp D appears to be a big aberration. The other 4 say my house should be between $110-117, and D says $95K. So I'm thinking there were some significant condition issues.

To test this, I comped out the comps with each other. I looked at what C, D, E, and F said about the expected value of A, and so on with the others. In all cases D said way lower than they actually sold for, and the other 4 said D should sell for $115K, when it sold for $98K. So we toss D out as a useful comp.

The exciting part is that the comping the comps method was a very good predictor of actual sales price, and the range was pretty tight (after tossing D). They said:
A should sell for $117K, it sold for $122
C should sell for $98K, it sold for $95K
E should sell for $118K, it sold for $115K
F should sell for $123K, it sold for $124K

The remaining differences can likely be chalked up to differences in condition (inside, outside, yard desirability, etc.)

So if I take A, C, E, and F, they tell me my house should sell for $113K, not including adjustments for condition. So there's the big wild card, since only one of the comps has photos on trulia. It looks very clean and somewhat updated, though kitchen cabinets appear original. This is comp A, which sold for over appraisal, so presumably was in the best condition compared to the others. Also, the trulia says full bath in basement while the assessor says there's 1.5 baths (which is what I used). If I change it to 2 baths, the appraisals all converge a bit.

Any further input from anyone based on these numbers?

In other news, I talked with Mr. Weedy last night and he said he'd check on pricing/timing to re-roof. If we can get it done in the next week for a couple grand, we might bite.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 8:33AM
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While you are at it, put in some shrubs and mulch...doesn't cost that much and will add so
much in value to the curb appeal.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 10:39AM
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IMO... If you redo the roof and landscape, then your figures are good to go. But, I don't understand why you do not investigate the house a couple of doors down that is going to sell a bit more than yours. Are you not curious as to how long they have been on the market? You said you wanted to price this to make it sell quickly.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 11:02AM
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"I tend to just figure we're above average since everything's new."

Everything is NOT new.

The only thing new is the bathroom, interior paint, carpet and kitchen cabinets and maybe(?) the formica kitchen countertops.

The kitchen still has an old stove, old tile floors and a mismatched black microwave versus the other white appliances. The fridge is not new and the dishwasher appears average. The washer/dryer are not new and are the less desired stackable type.

The interior doors and knobs/hinges are still old. The mirror above the fireplace screams 1970s. The ceiling fan is old.

The roof is old and mismatched, but maybe you will rememdy that.

But the interior has some new stuff and some old stuff even though it is clean. It is not "all new" like you say.

HVAC and water heater aren't mentioned, so we will assume they are not new either.

Your current "For Sale" comp has an interior that IS all new and is a huge difference.

And your driveway is filthy and cracked.

I just don't see your condition as above average. I would call it average. You didn't even finish updating the kitchen - only cabinets and possibly countertops.

The lack of shrubs brings the condition down a notch also.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 11:11AM
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It is in average to lower than average condition and lacks a second bath and basement. You are pricing it too high for those factors. It is a sub 100K home, and maybe a sub 90K home if the market keeps falling instead of increasing. The market will certainly tell you if your price it too high by not getting offers for weeks or months, but if you are doing this long distance, I'm sure you'd rather price it lower than the market price and unload it quickly. That means it has to say BARGAIN, not "good buy".

Wringing every cent out of it is a luxury that long distance selling doesn't give you. Consider your carrying costs and the costs of whomever you are paying to show it. Subtract 6 months of those plus 5-7K for it's average to below average condition and put it on the market and SELL it instead of keeping it interminably for sale.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 5:11PM
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Just to provide an update: We listed for $113K and we're under contract for $107K. The buyers are a late-middle-aged couple that wanted a single-story and called the house "pretty." They really clicked with the next-door neighbor that showed them the house too, so that probably helped. :-)

BTW, sorry for abruptly dropping off this thread before. I felt like I was arguing (particularly about the condition of this house relative to its neighbor comps) when there was no way to settle it other than to let the market speak.

NC, we did send DSS to visit the comp around the corner. He said it was very nice inside, and the sellers said it had been on the market for a couple months. It hasn't yet sold, and the listing expired mid-December. I'm assuming that was either the 60- or the 90-day mark, as that's how listing contracts run with QCFSBO.

I've been watching all the comps since we listed and none of them have sold yet either. Some have dropped off the MLS, but they're not showing on the assessor's website as changing hands, so I'm assuming.... Could just be a time lag, though.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 11:10AM
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Excellent, congrats! You worked hard to stage and declutter and it's paid off with a quick contract.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 1:51PM
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Weedy... good deal on getting a buyer so fast! You did your homework well, and it paid off.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 7:59AM
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Did you get a new roof?


    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 8:40AM
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You defiantely have to tell us what you did and did not do in regards to staging the property. We have the beginning and the middle of the story; now we need an ending.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 8:16AM
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We got pricing on a new roof and it was $4000, so we opted to not do it (Mr. Weedy nervous about cash flow). DSS said he and his wife would put some plants in front, but they got busy. So we didn't do anything further. :-(

We actually had zero calls or showings through Christmas. The only contacts were a couple realtors and a bottom-feeding investor who tried to negotiate via text message. I talked to the listing site, she gave me stats on views of our property (~400-600/month) and what percentile we were in, and said the holidays were typically slow for viewings. So we stuck it out.

The buyers called just after the holidays, made an appointment to see it, called us the next day to say they wanted to make an offer, we negotiated for a week or so, then agreed on a price, did the paperwork and off we go.

I have gotten one email and one call since, from interested buyers, but I told them we were under contract.

Inspections are happening today....

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 8:54AM
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"There's no simple answer to what the right price/sf is."

Never has been very reliable for SF houses.

As the SF goes down the higher cost areas (bathrooms & kitchens mainly) do not decrease past a certain point, and become a larger % of the remaining cost.

How much is a fireplace worth?

How about insert?
How about very well done stone?

Plumbing and electrical rarely enter into things since they are expected to be preset and function.
The same with HVAC.
While no central air will be a deduction in areas it is common in, some places it does not matter very much.

New systems rarely earns back cost.
Even a new roof.

They might speed up a sale though.

I look long and hard at investment properties on a flat dollar vs. return basis.

My principal residence I am actually more flexible on since I am not looking to make money on it, just have a nice pace to live.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 4:41PM
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Update: We closed today! The whole process went smoothly. The inspection had a half dozen small things, they asked for one, we had the boiler inspected and adjusted the next day. The appraisal must have been fine, as we heard no word.

We gave our attorney POA to sign our docs, he sent me the HUD statement just before closing, everything was fine, so I gave him the ok to sign. Proceeds are being overnighted to us. Yay!

Total cost of the FSBO:
$350 web site advertising
$600 lawyer fees
$200 neighbor showing fee (he'll refuse, DH will insist)

On to the big kahuna: our personal residence.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 7:58PM
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I wish FSBO were popular here. :( What a huge relief to have this sold! Congrats!!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 8:23PM
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