No. A property is worth what it is worth regardless of being distressed or not. With that being said, when a house is a short sale it may need to be marketed at a more aggressive price level to dump the property before a foreclosure date or offset any negative perception in the market for being a short sale. Notice though we’re talking about an aggressive “price” and not “value”.
Here’s a good question to ask. If a short sale was not a short sale, would it sell for more? The answer is very often “yes” and that leads us to a better picture of what market value is. The truth is that properties are frequently marketed as short sales and end up generating little interest before resulting in foreclosure. But then after these same houses end up as bank-owned they generate very quick offers at or above the original short sale listing price. Of course part of this could be banks not cooperating with the short sale process and buyers tiring of waiting for months for the deal to close, but it’s hard to ignore that short sales often (not always) sell at lower levels.
Case-in-point: I appraised a house recently in the City of Galt where competitive properties in the neighborhood showed a distinct difference between short sales and everything else. Comparable non-distressed properties were selling around $105,000-$115,000, REOs were selling mostly between $85,000-$100,000 and short sales were selling closer to $85,000-$90,000 near the bottom of the competitive range. It’s certainly true that condition and quality of updates played a role in the price differences, but it’s not an accident either that short sales were consistently finding their place near the bottom of the market.
Why is this important to understand?
- Appraisers: From the appraisal standpoint, if short sale comps are used in an appraisal report (without an adjustment upward), then the value in the report may be lower than what it should be. The value could really be a “quick sale” value rather than “market value”. That’s not good on many levels. Please understand though that short sales do not always sell less than fair market value, so an adjustment upward is not always warranted in an appraisal. It all depends on what is happening in the market.
- Investors: I just spoke with a Sacramento investor yesterday who has been growing frustrated to see some of his properties compared to bottom-of-the-market short sales by appraisers. This investor found me online and he called me to see if I had any advice on how to deal with his situation. That’ll be a different blog post, but I did give him some tips, a few which I mention below.
- Real Estate Agents: I recommend real estate agents (and investors) provide a detailed list of all updates to appraisers (with costs if possible). Send this via email or provide in person to the appraiser. You can also discuss any relevant marketing information (ie.. “There were 4 full-price offers in 3 days and I am still getting calls and back-up offers”). Lastly, feel free to share market research and properties that helped you establish your listing price. Don’t tell the appraiser which comps to use and how to do his job, but rather share data that helped you establish your price so the appraiser might understand your point of view. You are allowed to talk with appraisers about property specifics and the real estate market, but don’t coerce and pressure for a certain value.
- Sellers: Know your market if you are selling. You will have to compete with distressed properties around you, which can impact your price, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to price your property the same as neighborhood short sales and REOs. A trusted real estate agent or pre-listing appraisal should be able to give you guidance to understand the market. Misunderstanding what the market is doing can cost you dearly.
What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Any stories to share?
If you have any questions, or real estate appraisal or property tax appeal needs in the Greater Sacramento Region, contact Lundquist Appraisal by phone 916-595-3735, email, Facebook or subscribe to posts by email.