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What Are "Comps" and How are They Used to Determine Value?

Checking comparable sales is the most accurate and used method to finding out what an actual property is worth. Your local government website may have information on sold properties in the area you want. Many county courthouses and tax assessor’s offices have searchable databases for your use. There are also subscriber websites such as Electronic Appraiser which can give you more data. The Zillow website offers data on the property but the information is less accurate and not as detailed as other sites. For example if the seller’s name was missing, it might be because a bank owned the property. A foreclosure typically should not be used as a comparable sale because the banks take large losses to get rid of their property. Be weary of websites that offer computer-generated valuation as these methods can be off as much as 10% and sometimes much more. You should be able to get the value close to 3% with some research. The best source for getting information about comparable properties is through the local MLS. To get this information which also includes days on the market and whether the seller offered concessions and other information, asking a real estate agent is the best way to go as they can provide it to you for free. Many MLS’ will also allow you to buy this information as a subscription. Real estate agents can get information the general public does not have access to.

When you are comparing properties by using “comps” also known as comparables, location is most important. An appraiser usually looks at houses within a 1 mile radius. Also located on the water or by a park may add value to your property. Square footage of home is also very important. Compare the homes that are within 20% of the size homes are interested in. Other things to consider when looking at comps are the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the age of the property, the size of the lot, as well as the condition of the property. The number of bedrooms and bathroom can be more important than the actual square footage. For example a two bedroom home that is 1300 square feet most likely will not be as valuable as a three bedroom home that is 1250 square feet. Where the bedrooms are located can also be important. A bedroom in the basement may not be as valuable as a bedroom on the ground floor. A home with more than 5 bedrooms does not have a greater value over a home with 4 bedrooms given the square feet is the same. A home with 2 bathrooms has a lot more value than a home with one bathroom. However a home with three bathrooms does not have much more value than the home with two. A full bathroom includes a shower, bath, toilet, and sink. A three-quarter bath has a shower, toilet and sink. A half bath has a toilet and sink but no tub or shower. A three-quarter bath would not lose much value over a full bath as long as there was at least one full bath in the house. The number of garages can also affect value especially with condo’s or areas where there is not enough street parking. However, a four car garage may not have much more value than a three car garage. There are many factors to look at when determining the value of a home. A knowledgeable real estate agent can be very helpful in determining the value of a property.

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