Archive for the ‘Home Appraisals’ Category

Billerica Home Appraisals Best Left to Humans

In the Terminator movies, a robot from the future (Arnold Schwarzenegger) hunts down the human heroine in order to change the future by altering the past. Although that’s actually the present. It’s complicated.

Although generally considered science fiction, the same thing is happening right now in the realm of Billerica home appraisals! Now, before any Billerica readers panic, there’s no immediate danger to the community. The authorities have the situation well in hand; in fact, the robot in question has already been hauled into court. There’s certainly nothing that could affect any individual Billerica homeowner…that is, unless your own house is about to be entered into the Billerica listings.

First, about the robot: this is not the Terminator (Arnold) himself. In real life, if you saw him in the supermarket or walking down the street, there would be nothing to fear at all. In real life, he is an actor/Governor who is actually an American/Austrian who is a conservative/liberal and in no way the fictional robot character who was the antagonist/protagonist featured in the Terminator movies.

Neither is the robot that lurks in some online listings: the home appraisal robot. It, too, is nothing to fear, even though it has probably already visited your house without your knowledge. This robot comes from the Zillow website, and its name is “Zestimate.” It means no harm and is doing the best an automated home estimate robot could be expected to do. Any unintended consequences of what happens when it visits your house are, as the phrase indicates, unintentional.

About that court case: the online information company Zillow publishes a dollar figure that its robot calculates for most U.S. home addresses. It is featured as its “Zestimate” of a property’s market value. An Illinois realty lawyer has sued them because she claims that in her case that number is so low and off-kilter that it has materially hampered the sale of her condominium. State law has it that nobody can publish an appraisal without permission of the property’s owner. Zillow says that the $ number it calls its “Zestimate” is not an appraisal at all: instead, it’s an “estimated market value.” Who wins the court case is yet to be determined.

How this might affect your own Billerica home is because prospective buyers might visit Zillow to see what the robot thinks your own property is worth, and be slightly misled. Zillow admits that, compared with actual sale prices, their Zestimate number has a median error rate of 5% (not bad)—but that it’s only within twenty percent 89.7% of the time. A 20% error would be terribly misleading; especially when it happens more than one out of ten times.

The fact is, this robot doesn’t come from the future like the Terminator. Its numbers are based solely on publicly recorded information, which may be outdated, incorrect, or, most likely, unable to factor in anything other than basic square footage and general comps. What the Zestimate cannot account for are things like how upgraded, or outdated, or depressingly dark, or delightfully light, or traffic-noise heavy, or majestically awe-inspiring the subject property actually is in comparison to the comps used to calculate the Zestimate. When human beings aren’t involved at all, the subject property itself is not actually compared. I think there is room for this kind of automated approach. It can be fun and interesting to look around a neighborhood to see how various individual properties fare, even if the numbers aren’t to be taken too seriously.  As the name implies, it’s really just an estimate.

But when the time comes to actually sell your own Billerica home or to start looking in earnest for a house you will be calling home for many years, that’s no time to rely on anything less than comparables and guidance researched by a living, breathing real estate professional. In other words, when the information needs to be right—call me!

Joan Parcewski, CRS, CSHP, SRES, MRP, Notary

licensed MA and NH    c 978-376-3978   JParcewski@LAERrealty.com

LAER Realty Partners        JoanParcewski.LAERrealty.com

http://JoanParcewski.smarthomeprice.com      http://JoanParcewski.7sellertips.com

http://JoanParcewski.nameyoursellingprice.com

http://JoanParcewski.hometrendsreport.com

Laer Realty Partners      Joan_Parcewski (1 of 1)

Home Appraisals – Reprint from National Assn Realtors

What You Must Know About Home Appraisals

By: G. M. Filisko

Published: March 12, 2010

Understanding how appraisals work will help you achieve a quick and profitable refinance or sale.

1. An appraisal isn’t an exact science
When appraisers evaluate a home’s value, they’re giving their best opinion based on how the home’s features stack up against those of similar homes recently sold nearby. One appraiser may factor in a recent sale, but another may consider that sale too long ago, or the home too different, or too far away to be a fair comparison. The result can be differences in the values two separate appraisers set for your home.

2. Appraisals have different purposes
If the appraisal is being used by a lender giving a loan on the home, the appraised value will be the lower of market value (what it would sell for on the open market today) and the price you paid for the house if you recently bought it.

An appraisal being used to figure out how much to insure your home for or to determine your property taxes may rely on other factors and arrive at different values. For example, though an appraisal for a home loan evaluates today’s market value, an appraisal for insurance purposes calculates what it would cost to rebuild your home at today’s building material and labor rates, which can result in two different numbers.

Appraisals are also different from CMAs, or competitive market analyses. In a CMA, a real estate agent relies on market expertise to estimate how much your home will sell for in a specific time period. The price your home will sell for in 30 days may be different than the price your home will sell for in 120 days. Because real estate agents don’t follow the rules appraisers do, there can be variations between CMAs and appraisals on the same home.

3. An appraisal is a snapshot
Home prices shift, and appraised values will shift with those market changes. Your home may be appraised at $150,000 today, but in two months when you refinance or list it for sale, the appraised value could be lower or higher depending on how your market has performed.

4. Appraisals don’t factor in your personal issues
You may have a reason you must sell immediately, such as a job loss or transfer, which can affect the amount of money you’ll accept to complete the transaction in your time frame. An appraisal doesn’t consider those personal factors.

5. You can ask for a second opinion
If your home appraisal comes back at a value you believe is too low, you can request that a second appraisal be performed by a different appraiser. You, or potential buyers, if they’ve requested the appraisal, will have to pay for the second appraisal. But it may be worth it to keep the sale from collapsing from a faulty appraisal. On the other hand, the appraisal may be accurate, and it may be a sign that you need to adjust your pricing or the size of the loan you’re refinancing.

More from HouseLogic
How to use an appraisal to eliminate private mortgage insurance

Understanding the assessed value of your home for tax purposes

Understanding the amount at which to insure your home

Other web resources
More information on appraisals

How to improve the appraised value of your home

G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who’s had more than 10 appraisals performed on her properties in the past 20 years. A frequent contributor to many national publications including Bankrate.com, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.

%d bloggers like this: