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Reviewing the Comparables

Your real estate agent has access to what are known as ‘comparables.’ These are listings of houses similar to yours in your neighborhood that have been sold recently, including descriptions, photos, the listing price and the price the seller accepted. Whether you’re buying a house or selling the one you own, you absolutely need to be going over the comparables.

What is, “going over the comparables”?

Well, this means casting a critical eye on the characteristics and attributes that are causing the houses in your neighborhood to sell and comparing these to your house. These include location, curb appeal, renovations and features. With each listing, review the value of each of the above-listed items to determine how well each house rates. If it makes it easier for you, create a chart and give each house a score out of ten for each characteristic. When your chart is finished, you’ll be able to look for patterns.

An example of a typical pattern to look for is whether or not access to public transit seems to be a concern for the type of buyer that buys in your area. This is indicated by higher pricing for those houses on a transit line as compared to those that are not within walking distance of public transit. You can also see if certain features interest buyers by looking for high resale value on houses with special features like cedar roofs, or a swimming pool.

Why are the comparables important?

The insight that you gain from careful study of comparables can help you price your house more realistically when you put it on the market. They can also help you know which aspects of your house you should highlight or de-emphasize in your listing, where your money is best spent if you’re doing renovations, and give you an idea of what your longed-for features are going to cost you if you’re looking at buying. Buyer, seller or renovator – no matter what your role in the game, one fact remains the same – it pays to review the comparables.

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