How do you know if a listing has a fair price?
I have sold or previewed hundreds of homes, and when I walk in a house’s front door, I can’t help but automatically estimate its value. After decades working in real estate, it’s become second nature.
Now, If my client has serious interest, I back up my opinion with a market analysis. I’ll sit down with my client and we’ll talk about the current price and, because Seattle has such a competitive market, we’ll talk about how high that price could escalate.
That usually leads to another question: What is the maximum I should pay?
To answer that one, I analyze the house in question as an investment, based on what I know about my client’s abilities, wants, needs, and the amount of time they expect to live in the property. It’s an important question, and I take the answer very seriously.
Can’t I just use price per square footage to determine value?
The answer is a resounding no.
Price per square footage is an aid. That’s all. Seattle varies far too much in location, condition, age, style, and layout—not to mention the degree of what I like to call “Seattle funk.” Also, many older homes have had modifications over the years. Others were built well and haven’t needed many upgrades. Still others were constructed with little thought to style or flow. It all matters.
Should we consider a short sale?
Short answer: Maybe.
Long answer: In a short sale, the property sells for less than the amount of the outstanding mortgage. Short sales typically have a 3-6 month closing timeline.
Pros: For the buyer, a short sale means “more house for the money,” which is a very good thing. Also, the long 3-6 month closing timeline isn’t an issue for buyers with flexible living situations, such as month-to-month leases, an option to move twice, or the ablity to live in their current home for an indefinite time,
Cons: The long closing time in a short sale deters for people. The uncertainty of when you’ll be able to move can be tough on those with kids, and the idea of possibly needing to move twice is even more unpalatable. Rising interest rates can make waiting several months unappealing, too.
Note: Some sellers simply list their property as a “short sale” without consulting their bank/lender, which is bad bad bad. A seller’s financial situation must meet the lender’s specific criteria for a short sale, and if the lender doesn’t give consent, the short sale can’t happen. Even if the buyer and seller settle on a price, without the bank’s permission, the deal stays dead in the water. So when a home is advertised as a short sale, ask if the lender has agreed to let the house sell for less than the outstanding mortgage amount.