So it’s time to put your house on the market – or perhaps it’s been on and hasn’t gotten a decent bid. How do you price it competitively, where it will get attention and create activity, without losing realistic profits?
AHRN.com has put together some tips and tools for determining the fair market value with an eye toward the military market, who are very desirable buyers. Not only are many eligible for very affordable mortgages through the VA or other lenders because of their steady employment, there are always new potential buyers coming into the market due to an annual influx of military families PCSing (getting orders to move) into town.
Here’s how to do a basic comparative market analysis (CMA). Look for other homes near yours based on this criteria:
- Type of property: townhouse, condo, or house…and to some extent the style – ranch vs. two-story, historic, loft, cottage etc.
- Neighborhood: Is it in a building, a gated community, a neighborhood, city center? For many military families, safe neighborhoods are a prime feature.
- Location: This can vary greatly depending on how spread out or tightly built your town is. In a residential area, your search scope could be within 1-5 miles. In big cities like Chicago, Atlanta and San Francisco, it can be a matter of a section of town. In more rural areas, or in cities like that are spread out, like Houston and Los Angeles, your comparison zone could be a matter of 10-30 miles. In military markets, the distance and ease of commute to the installation can be prominent feature!
- Number of bed/baths, Same or similar square footage.
- Age/Condition: Homes built at approximately the same time, and updates like renovated kitchen, stainless steel appliances vs. being a fixer upper.
- Type of parking (street vs. covered, security garage, number of spots, assigned or not)
Where do you go for this information?
Look Online: Let your fingers do the walking and peruse AHRN.com for listings for sale in your area.
Drive the Area: When your property is in a spread out area where farmhouses and mountain homes are found, you can make a pleasant time of getting in the car and systematically driving around looking for properties like yours and calling the number on any For Sale signs you see. If you live in a residential neighborhood or tract housing this can be easy. About 40% of the time, depending on the area, you may luck out and grab a stat sheet from one of those little plastic boxes, though often they can be empty.
Specialty Groups: If you’re having a hard time finding homes that are a match, you might talk to specialized groups such as your local Real Estate Clubs, Landlord Associations, or Chamber of Commerce. You can find these and other resources via Google.
CityData.com: A comprehensive clearing house for info on all aspects of US cities.
Keep track of what you find on a comp spreadsheet: listing addresses, sale price, bed/baths, age, updates, amenities, etc. Once you’ve got your price range identified, it can be good to work with an agent, who knows all the ins and outs and can take a lot of work off your hands. Check AHRN.com’s business directory for a trusted real estate agent in your area.
Set The Price
If you have an agent, discuss it and come up with the best starting price and plot a strategy – ie: you may want to build in a little padding as there is always a bargaining period, where the buyer offers low, and expects you to meet somewhere in the middle.
Know the BAH in your area: The BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing) is the amount given to military families by the Department of Defense toward their housing expense. It includes the payment for mortgage or rent, insurance and utilities based on where they are stationed plus their pay grade and dependency status.
Variables: If your home is located in a hot area where properties are being snapped up, you can set your price on the higher end. If the home itself is very desirable, you may get a bidding war that will bump up the ultimate sale price on it’s own.
Consider Unique Features: Amenities can make a real difference in when deciding to begin a little higher or lower, such as:
- A gym, pool or event room in a complex
- Upgrades like new appliances, security systems, whether WiFi is included, if it’s a “smart” house, central AC, etc.
- Neighborhood safety
- Proximity to schools, nature, public transportation, and the town
- Views or lack thereof, if it’s on the water, abuts a conservation easement, etc.
Once you have your price set, it’s time to get the word out! If your property is located within 60 miles of a military installation, list it for FREE on AHRN.com. AHRN.com is an effective, efficient resource directly exposing your property to 1.4 million registered users – a consistent and abundant supply of military members and their families who are looking for homes!
Breaking Even or Less
While real estate can be a big investment, there are times you may have to let go of anticipated profits or even lose some money in a sale. It can hurt, but if you really need to take it off your hands, it’s best to forget what you paid and get realistic about what today’s market will bear. The upside? You will at least save yourself the potential liability of owning a property that’s vacant while you pay all the bills or putting in less than ideal renters just to cover costs, and worse, having someone injure themselves on the property or paying for things that may break while you’re waiting for the market to recover – and who knows when it will. Consider your individual situation and decide whether or not it is better to release the asset, free up what cash you can, and put that to work for you in other ways to make up the loss.
We want to know:
What are you most worried about as you prepare your home to go on the market?
Meet Your Contributor:
Rochelle Joseph is a Writer and Image Consultant who has had experience marketing, renting and buying/selling her properties for over 20 years. She has written and edited for several publications, including the Boston Book Review, The Emerson Review, ZooBorns.com, WildLife Magazine, the Houston Zoo, The Wildlife Center of Texas, One Spirit Interfaith Seminary as well as AHRN.com. She currently writes at her great gifts blog at https://lookyhereu.blogspot.com and her animal blog at https://naturegirrrl.blogspot.com.