When you sit down to look at comparable sales (or “comps”) in the North State counties of our area (Butte, Glenn, Tehama, Yuba, Sutter), you may feel a bit overwhelmed. How do you know what is really comparable to your home? Is size the only factor? How do you know if your house is worth more or less than similar homes around it? Unless you live in a tract home subdivision, it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll find another home exactly like yours that has sold recently. So what to do? Follow these rules of thumb:
Make sure you’re comparing the same things.
More than likely, your Marysville house (for example) doesn’t look like all the other ones around it, so pricing it the same as other surrounding homes may be a big mistake. School districts, zoning, and other significant factors can change in just a few blocks, so prioritize the following:
- Square footage: A bigger property usually means a bigger price. Don’t compare your home to a much bigger home. Try to stay within 10-15% of the square footage of your home.
- Age: The condition, rather than the age, has a larger bearing on the price of the home. If an older home looks like new, it might be worth more than a newer home in need of repairs. But if your home is more than 25 years old, it’s probably best not to compare it to homes built in the last 10-15 years.
- Bed and bath count: Look for homes with the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Don’t compare a 2-bedroom home to a 3-bedroom home. If your home has 2 bathrooms, sometimes you can’t find comparables with 2, in which case, you use what you have to.
- Perks and amenities: Buyers love walk-in closets, modernized kitchens and upgraded bathrooms. If your home has some of these features, then it’s usually worth more. Look for comps with similar upgrades.
- Location: One of the most important features, location makes a big difference. Look at how close you are to parks and recreational opportunities, public transportation, good schools, restaurants and entertainment. The closer your are, the more your home will be worth. Try to find comps within 1/2 mile of your home, BUT sometimes neighborhood considerations require you to go beyond that (e.g., in more rural areas) or keep it tighter than that.
- Lot size: How much land you own makes a big difference in price. Try to find houses on similar lots.
- Condition: If your home needs repairs, then it won’t be worth as much as similar North State homes that are in good condition. See 10 Reasons to Do Repairs Before Selling Your Chico Home for guidance on dealing with home repairs.
Stay in the reasonable present
Going back more than six months is risky. When looking at comparable sales in Yuba City, for example, you should stay within the last 3-4 months if possible. A lot can happen to a market in a short period of time. If you go too far back, you won’t get an accurate read on the market right now.
Look at online prices
You can find sales data online using Trulia, Zillow, or other real estate websites. You can easily check a home’s specifications to see how it stacks up against yours.
Go to open houses
You can always go to open houses physically or virtually and look at homes in your area. But remember that ACTIVE listings are wannabe SOLD listings and should not count very much in your calculations. They are just to give you an idea of current market competition. The SOLD listings are the real success stories.
Remember what’s not selling
Look online to find properties that have been on the market for a long time. What is wrong with these properties? Look to see why they’re priced the way they are and use them to guide your own price and avoid making the same mistakes.
If you follow these guidelines when choosing comps, you will have a high likelihood of being successful at accurately pricing and then selling your North State home.