Real estate agents specialize in answering the question “what is my home worth?” for their clients, which they do by running a comparative market analysis. This process involves finding similar properties (“comps”) that sold within the past 90 days.The most accurate comp is a home that’s nearby, similar to yours in square footage, and has the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms. (Ideally, the lot size is also equivalent, but that’s more important in rural areas, where homes are set on multiple acres.) Once your agent finds a few comps, then she averages those figures to come up with a baseline of your own home value.
Estimate your home’s value as too high, and it could wind up sitting on the market. That’s a big problem, because a property that goes unsold for an extended period of time (e.g., more than 30 days) often becomes stigmatized. Buyers get suspicious when they see a house that’s been on the market for a while, They think that something is wrong with the home. If that’s the case, the seller may have to make a significant number reduction—sometimes dropping the number below market value—in order to nab a buyer.
Pricing your home below market value in an attempt to stir up interest and generate multiple bids can also backfire. Granted, that strategy could work in a hot seller’s market, but underpricing your home frequently leads buyers to assume that your home is worth only its list price.
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