How Do You Value A Property?

This question was recently asked and here is how I answered:

If you are asking how to determine a property’s value, there are various ways to assist in detemining a property’s value. Ultimately the worth is determined by what was paid for it. How you gather information on what to pay for it depends on what you require the value for. The value of the property, no matter how the info is gathered, should be at or near the same price, no matter which tools you use.

There are currently three acceptable and most common tools of “gathering” that information:

1. CMA (Comparable Market Analysis) – Completed by a licensed real estate agent. When completing a CMA, agents should keep in mind three crucial factors,
a) Only use comps within a half mile radius of your subject property, this helps ensure you are using properties that actually fall within the same parameters (builder, style, year built, etc) of your subject property. It isn’t fool proof, but that’s where your knowledge of the area and market should kick in and adjust for any discrepancies.
b) Keep your filters (min/max sq ft, year, bed/ba, etc) as close as possible to the subject property for the best determination. For example, If your subject property is 1400 sq ft you would be doing an injustice to set your filters at min1000 sq ft and max 1800 sq ft because once you add or subtract 200 or more sq ft to a home (the size of another room), the case could be made that that home now is automtically valued less than or more than your subject property. In the event you need to contest a value determination by a lender (in the case of a short sale), you will be able to make a better case when you use “cleaner” filters.
c) Never tweak your CMA. In this current market, the decision makers are the lenders, not the sellers. All lenders have recruited the assistance of other agents (BPO agents, such as myself ) to ensure they are either getting the correct value to help mitigate their loses, or in the case of a buyer, are making the loan at the appropriate risk value. The bank that I do BPOs for is Bank of America (Landsafe Appraisals), and they have tightened down on their BPO agents so much so that they have actually let some agents go, and they monitor your BPO results on a regular basis to ensure you are being consistent in your formula, as well as share best practices for determining value.

2. Appraisal – These are completed by a licensed appraisal professional and the results are much more detailed than in a CMA and as a result can be used to contest a CMA or BPO if necessary.

3. BPO (Broker Priced Opinion) – Typically requested by Senior lienholders, these reports are usually completed using the senior lienholder’s BPO company’s form (usually electronic and online). A pretty detailed report, asking for info such as can you determine if the property is vacant or occupied, most recent comparable three “solds”, most recent comparable three “listeds” – dates listed/sold, year of build, beds/baths, sq ft, miles from subject property, etc), and normally includes pictures of the subject property, and sometimes pictures of the comparables.

Here is a short sale negotiating tip on BPOs: Currently, these reports are updated normally every three months. That is good information to know when you are negotiating and come to a bump over price. Sometimes a three month old report can mean the difference between a denial (if the buyer’s offer is too low), and an approval (if an updated BPO is completed and comes back slightly lower).

Just to reiterate, whether you are on the REO side, short sale side, or buyer side, the lender has the final say, and they are scrutinizing values more now than before – and rightly so. So just remember to keep your value determinations above board and you will be making the best decision for all involved.

Keisha Mathews
“The Short Sale Lady” TM

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