Tips for getting your home’s best value
By Lisa Scontras
Who do you believe? The annual tax assessment from the City and County of Honolulu, or the internet clickbait pop-up urging you to sell for “top dollar”? Maybe your auntie down the street just down-sized, or your next-door neighbor “made a killing” two years ago.
The real answer is: Your home is worth what a prospective buyer in the current market is willing to pay.
Of course, there’s no crystal ball to predict how much the sale of your home might fetch, but real estate professionals offer an objective, side-by-side comparison of what buyers have recently paid for similar properties.
“Comparable properties — homes of a similar size, condition, age and style that recently sold in a certain neighborhood — are used to determine fair market value,” said Cynthia Nash, Realtor® at The Choi Group with Hawaii Life.
“Comps are used by sellers and their agents to help them come up with their asking price, while buyers use comps to come up with how much to offer,” added Nash.
Comparable analysis considers similar properties that sold in the past six months — in the same neighborhood, same relative location, similar square footage, same number of bedrooms, baths, and same condition, upgrades and views.
“It’s important to compare apples to apples,” Nash said.
Recent improvements are important to note. Nash lists features that may add value to either the subject home or a comparable home: kitchen and bath remodels, new flooring, new paint, photovoltaic system, newer roof, professional landscaping, indoor/outdoor living areas, and ocean views. Pools are highly desirable in the luxury market.
“Any special features such as these, in addition to location, such as walking distance to the beach or beachfront are also important to highlight in marketing materials,” Nash said.
Of course, the opposite is also true. If your home lacks a quality the comparable homes had, the effect will be to reduce the home’s worth.
Coming up with the right listing price may be one of the most important decisions, potentially affecting how fast and for how much the property sells. You can’t simply hang a “For Sale” sign in your yard and expect buyers to start the bidding. There are consequences when pricing too high.
“There is already a large pool of buyers waiting for the next property to come on the market,” said Scott Startsman, Realtor-Associate® at List Sotheby’s International Realty. “You will get the most activity in the first two to three weeks on the market. This is when you have the largest number of showings and is the opportunity to realize the highest sales price.
“If the home is deemed to be overvalued, then the buyers typically move on and write off the home as overvalued. Now you need to wait for new buyers to come on the market. The longer the home sits, the more the buying community wonders why no one else has decided to buy the home, what is wrong with it, and it becomes more difficult to convince buyers to make it their home.”