The market feels aggressive out there. I don’t know about you, but I’m having so many conversations about rising prices at the lower end, a shortage of inventory, and even low appraisals. So I wanted to share some of the talking points floating around out there and give some commentary too. Here’s a list of things coming up in discussion lately (it’s longer on purpose). Anything to add?
One buyer vs market value: Value is what a buyer is willing to pay. I hear that statement quite a bit, but what one buyer is willing to pay could represent an individual’s value rather than market value – which is what appraisers are gauging.
Front-loaded market: Most of the value increases are usually found in the beginning of the year. Thus if values went up 5% last year, that means we probably saw about a 1% increase per month during the first two quarters of the year. But if the bottom of the market increased by say 12%, then we saw a 2% monthly increase. Of course some months might see greater appreciation rates than others.
The need to respect pendings: Sales tell us about where the market used to be when they got into contract 60-90 days ago, but pendings tell us about the temperature of the current market. This is why we have to respect pendings. For instance, during a recent appraisal of a fairly original home in South Sacramento I saw some properties close around $230,000 less than six months ago, and now similar ones are getting offers galore at $245,000+. The tricky part is I don’t know the exact price and terms of a pending unless I call the agent (and he/she tells me).
One sale or pending doesn’t make the market: Let’s remember value in a market is not based on one high sale. In today’s market if a buyer paid $25,000 above appraised value, for instance, an appraiser has to consider if that property at $25,000 above everything really represents the market or just one buyer willing to pay more. This is a reminder that appraisers and agents have to “appraise the comps” so to speak. We can’t just blindly accept the final sales price of a comp without understanding the back story of why it closed that high. The same holds true with pendings as we can’t base an entire valuation on one “lone ranger” that is higher than anything else.
Upward adjustments by appraisers: Value adjustments can be given by appraisers to account for an increasing market. These adjustments can be figured out with graphs, analyzing sales and pendings, talking to real estate agents, etc… This is what I did with the South Sacramento property above as my comps were 2-6 months old, but the market was 4-6% higher easily because the pendings were all trending higher. The truth is if I didn’t give upward adjustments my value would have reflected the past instead of today’s market. Some appraisers might not give a specific upward adjustment, and I won’t split hairs over that so long as an increase in value is accounted for somehow in the appraisal.
Appraisers aren’t hired to “hit the number”: A lender hires an appraiser to assess whether a loan should be made or not. Thus if a buyer offers an unrealistic price, the buyer might be willing to pay that amount, but if the house cannot sell for that price to the rest of the market, it doesn’t make sense for the lender to make the loan at that level. In this regard it’s reasonable to see appraisals come in lower than some of the high offers we’re seeing.
Multiple offers don’t always mean aggressive increases: Just because there are many offers doesn’t mean values are increasing rapidly. In some price ranges we are seeing clear increases in value and other prices ranges feel a bit flat. Realistically though there are likely to be multiple offers in about every price range (more at the lower end). This is a good reminder that at times there is a difference between how the market feels and what it is doing (actual data).
Different trends different neighborhoods: It’s easy to project what is happening in one neighborhood onto another or use one sweeping cliché to describe all locations and price ranges, but we have to look at actual numbers in each neighborhood to understand what the market is doing there.
Informed buyers: Having low inventory is creating some aggressive offers out there, and while buyers are willing to overpay to a certain extent for the right property, they won’t literally pay any price just because “nothing is on the market.”
Not easy to interpret: If we’re honest it’s not always easy to interpret what the market is doing – especially when things seem crazy with multiple offers and bidding wars. This is a good reminder to be humble because the market isn’t always wrapped up in a neat little perfectly decipherable package. There are things we can expect of course and seasons of the year, but the market is still distinct and sometimes even surprising. Let’s be real about that.
A perfect season for communication: This is a perfect market to foster excellent communication between real estate agents and appraisers. Agents, sticks to the facts and tell the story of the marketing of the property when talking to appraisers. Feel free to use my Appraiser Info Sheet (local agents, I love when you use this). In any price range where values are changing quickly, insight from agents can really help appraisers. On that note, Appraisers, glean insight from agents by finding time to make phone calls and asking the right questions about comps and the subject.
Reconsideration of value: I did a presentation recently on tips when asking an appraiser to reconsider the value. If anyone wants a copy of it, just send me an email (lundquistcompany @ gmail dot com). You can also read this post.
Hindsight makes everyone sound smart: When in the thick of a “hot” market it’s not always clear what the exact trend is, but after a few months when more stats are published everyone and their Mom sounds like a real estate expert. #truth
Questions: Anything else to add? What else are you seeing out there in the market right now? I’d love to hear your take.