Pricing Perplexity

When I initially meet with a seller, their first question, and rightly so, is “how much?” For most people, their home is their single largest asset, and they want to sell for as much as possible.

Often, my sellers have a number in mind before our initial meeting, and they’ve almost certainly looked at what Zillow has to say about their home’s value, the “Zestimate.” In the majority of cases, Zillow’s Zestimates for DC Metro area homes tend to be on the low side. Neighboring sales, local real estate articles, and a plethora of websites provide so much information – it becomes difficult to navigate to the right number.

Take, for example, a recent home we sold on Dublin Drive in Forest Estates, Silver Spring. The “Zestimate” placed the house at $373K. But when we researched recently sold homes in the neighborhood (as well as those that were on the market and not selling), we came to a different conclusion. With a good bit of pre-market advertising, meticulously painting and staging to show the home in its best light, we listed it at $379K. In the end, the house sold for $400K- more than $20K over asking price! A number of factors contributed to the ultimate sale price, not the least of which was location — but careful preparation, professional staging and a solid marketing plan are always key. And it’s not a one size fits all plan — every neighborhood is different.

As the Realtor, I set a reasonable list price to get it in the right range, based on recent comparable sales, active listings, and knowledge of the neighborhood. Then, basic supply/demand forces are at work and the market sets the sold price.