Oakland Real Estate News

Should I even use that comp?

April 9th, 2016 1:54 PM by Harold Thomas Jr.

Buying a home in a Seller's Market can generally be challenging. Buying a home in a Seller's Market in closer proximity to tech boom cities in which your desired city is in top demand can...... well let's just say you must stay confident, creative, and willing to sacrifice. Selling a home in a Seller's Market should be easy, but can be complicated as well if the proper expectations aren't set and greed sets in. 

The Oakland real estate market has always had desired pockets scattered between undesirable areas. This has evolved, and now some comparable homes in the same neighborhoods are selling at up to $200k differences in price (approximately the highest I've seen). In measuring the differences most times, the edge of the higher priced "sold" home may just be nice upgrades/originals and a spectacular stage job. These "sold" price differences can make it frustrating for realtors when looking for comparable homes for a client's Comparable Market Analysis. Some buyers are so frustrated with writing offers just to get out bid that they want to go for it with a very high offer over asking price. The problem that can stem from writing an offer too high however is the appraisal will come back short of the offer price, which will require the buyer to make up the difference. The same frustration sets in for the seller most times when they are excited by the high offer only to get a call from their agent about the buyer wanting to renegotiate down to the actual appraised value. In those cases sometimes seller greed sets in and the property sits on the market only for the listing to expire.

The truth is, some homes (sold price) probably just shouldn't be used as comparables when it comes to creating a CMA (at least in the Bay Area). There are exceptions to this, some that I use each time I create an analysis. For instance, when I create these reports I most times always do two:

One of them being an analysis that includes homes on a top tier (well staged and very nicely upgraded with close comparables such as rooms, baths, and square footage), a mid tier (not so upgraded but originals and comparable features), and a lower tier (tenants, fixer-ish, older looking, and not great condition). If I am unable to find these within a close radius I spread out a bit and sometimes increase room amounts and square footage until I get what I need. The most important thing in this case is letting your clients know not to use the value of the analysis given by the software. Using the method above will have your final numbers somewhat inaccurate but to a certain advantage. This allows your client to see an analysis of a few kinds of properties (condition varying) with similar features. Seems elementary, especially to experienced realtors, but in Oakland this is almost a must.

For the buyer this will help them strategize their buying in being able to be creative with directional ideas to stay in budget with a mid tier or fixer-ish purchase, or consider spending a little extra for a finely renovated home that already shines.

For the seller this will enable them to equally strategize their sale with a possible 203k/similar renovation loan or out of pocket spending to deliver a polished/upgraded home to the market that would sell for more, or sell as is at an acceptable price still with a usually quick turn around.

The other analysis is what I refer to as my Quick and Dirty Comps. With this analysis I basically search out homes with the closest comparison to the subject property condition wise, square footage and sold for square footage, bedrooms and baths etc. Without the use of condition tiers like above this one gives a better perspective of value and should give the buyer/seller a more precise idea of what the subject property is worth. 

Individually, most everyone has their own ways of comparing homes as realtors, appraisers and even sellers and buyers. There can be good and bad comparisons sometimes done by realtors and even appraisers, some traveling from a surrounding city that are not familiar with the local real estate market. If they bring their area specific method from the real estate market in their city 20 miles away, you might get an inaccurate valuation. This can drive any side in the transaction CRAZY if it is from the appraiser, so don't be afraid to dispute an appraisal with your own information. 

The truth still lies in the fact that the fair market value is usually determined by what the market is willing to pay. In the case of the Bay Area there are many residents with higher and growing incomes willing to pay amounts way over appraised value. With that being said evolution of different areas is occurring and we are experiencing extensive change. If you will be buying or selling in today's Bay Area market be sure to do your homework on the trends. 

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Posted by Harold Thomas Jr. on April 9th, 2016 1:54 PM

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