What do business cards on the counter tell us about the real estate market?

It says something to me when I find a huge stack of real estate business cards on a kitchen countertop. Without looking at comps or researching the market, it’s often an indicator that the price hit the sweet spot for buyers.

In the Sacramento area it’s customary for agents to leave a card when showing a property to a client. When there are many cards like this photo I took in Elk Grove, it’s one sign of how much interest there was in the house. Of course it doesn’t mean there was no interest if there are only a few cards, but I bring this up because it begs an important question. Do appraisers pay attention to things like how much traffic a listing had, the number of offers, days on market and listing price? Or do appraisers simply look at the most recent sales and turn a blind eye to any other information? Everyone knows the most recent and relevant sales need to be used by appraisers, but specific data like this does help provide a window into what is happening in the market.

Multiple offers and quick sales: For example, when a house has been listed for only 5 days and yet I find 25 business cards on a countertop (and talk with the listing agent personally), this tells me something. There may be incentives or special financing that cause buyers to want to offer higher amounts for a property, but all things considered, if there were 50 agents who went through the property and 20 offers in 5 days, that says something about price vs market value. The price may very well be too low if it’s generating that much buzz in just a few days. Or if a house sold at asking price in only three days, yet there were multiple offers, this may provide a clue that the property sold quickly and may not reflect market value. Would it have sold for more had it been exposed on the market for a longer period of time? That’s the question to ask. Additionally, as I’ve been sharing quite a bit lately, there is often a price difference between traditional, REO and short sales, which is also important to consider.

Sampling of questions I ask agents:

  • Did you get many offers and calls on this one?
  • What were the selling points for this property in your mind?
  • What types of buyers were attracted to this property?
  • Why were there few offers, but so many showings?
  • Why did this one sit on the market for so long?
  • Why did it fall out of contract recently?
  • Did you have any interest before you lowered the price?
  • Why did you lower the price?

Supporting appraised value: Granted, these types of details are sometimes not easy to uncover like a recorded sales price, but  information as such is vital to understand how the market perceives the subject property (and comparables also). Answers to some of the questions above really provide a good background for interpreting specific sales in the context of the market. With so much talk about “low appraisals” from so many sources, we all know how important it is for an appraiser to really be in touch with neighborhood trends. On a closing note, if you are an agent and need some tips for talking with real estate appraisers, please read my recent article.

What else could business cards on a countertop tell us about a property or the real estate market? What type of questions would you add to my brief list above?

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, Twitter or subscribe to posts by email.

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