Pricing DC Real Estate | Why Is It So Difficult?

There’s a saying in real estate: “A home is worth what someone is willing to pay for it at any given point in time.” But how do buyers arrive at a number?

Pricing DC real estate

Value Determination Starts With Your Agent

An experienced real estate agent is likely to be your most effective tool in pricing your home for the greatest possible profit. We’re in and out of competing homes in your neighborhood on a regular basis, understand the market and hear constant feedback from buyers.

Here are some of the metrics we use to price real estate in one of the nation’s most competitive markets.

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Begin With A Calculated Range

“How do we go about pricing DC real estate?” It’s a common question from owners wanting to list their home and buyers interested in making an offer. In the era of big data it feels like there should be a precise answer, but pricing a home involves tangible and intangible factors plus some subjective aspects that lead to uncertainty.

The process is more like predicting the weather than shopping in a retail store. Pricing is a forecast of the micro-market, neighborhood trends and buyer pool at a given moment in time. When a weather forecaster tells us there’s a 70% chance of rain, we know it’s a good idea to take our umbrellas even though there’s still a 30% chance the day might be dry. When you decide on a home price, it’s a similarly weighted calculation.

For example, we sold a single family home in the Dupont Circle neighborhood at a record price for the home’s type and size. Many factors played into getting that big win for the seller, but one key element was the range of listing prices we provided for consideration. We discussed the likelihood of ending up at a specific point with each option and what the seller would likely need to do to market the home at each price, creating a calculated range model. As we went forward, the range narrowed based on what was available in the micro-neighborhood, sales prices of nearby homes and their attributes, as well as the improvements the sellers were willing to make to achieve that price point. The listing price we chose wasn’t an exact representation of the home’s value, rather a strategic choice based on how buyers were behaving in that neighborhood market at that time.

On paper, the value of a home might be fairly clear–but as economic influences, market conditions, neighborhood sales and buyer behaviors shift, value evolves.

Review the Comparative Market Analysis prepared by your agent and discuss your options.

Factor In Emotion

Emotional attachment factors into pricing DC real estate, on the part of both buyer and seller.

A buyer who falls in love with the feel of a home, or has FOMO due to a history of losing properties to higher bids in a specific, desired neighborhood, is likely to pay much more for a home than other buyers in the same pool. Sellers appealing to this buyer are often the beneficiaries of unusually high sales prices if their presentation is well matched to that target buyers’ expectations.

Sellers who have a high level of emotional attachment to their home can sometimes be blind to the need for updating and staging, and tend to want to overprice. This is where the objectivity of an expert real estate agent is especially valuable.

Great Presentation Is Crucial

Your home can be in one of DC’s best locations, have popular attributes, be ready to list in early spring–and still suffer on the market due to poor presentation. Being realistic about your home’s condition, identifying your target buyer and their expectations, and marrying the two with repairs, updating, decluttering and staging will deliver optimal results. Unlock your home’s full potential by making great presentation a top priority.

Uncertainty Can Be A Tool

Uncertainty is a key factor for buyers in competitive situations. Each buyer’s offer is a reflection of their personal search history and attachment to the home, but the winning bid can differ drastically depending the size and aggressiveness of the buyer pool at that specific moment in time. This urgency, or lack of it, is an element we factor in when pricing DC real estate.

Timing Is Important

Common time-related questions are; “Is my home really worth more in the spring than the summer?” from sellers, and “Will I get a better deal in August or mid-winter?” from buyers. The answers are–again–subjective. A home certainly might sell at a higher price in spring versus summer, but it could suffer by comparison to the glut of similar listings in the spring market and take longer to sell due to competition. Listed in August, however, it might garner favor amongst the more desperate souls braving the ghost town market of late summer. Good timing depends on your needs and your agent’s savvy in handicapping the market at any given time. At any time of the year, a well presented home priced for the current market is apt to sell more quickly and at a better price than homes that are packaged in a less attractive manner.

Terms Are Key

Each term of an offer has a value to individual sellers. For instance, ‘Offer A’ may include a higher purchase price, but ‘Offer B’ may have few or no contingencies, lessening the risk that often accompanies them. There’s a threshold at which most sellers will choose security over price. Every seller values each term differently and there are limits to how much of that information is available to buyers when offers are drafted. Be sure of your limits and objectives before listing your DC home for sale and cater to buyers who can provide those terms.

Is There A Concrete Value For A DC Home?

Quick answer: Almost never. You can compute, compare, poll and hypothesize, but in the end there is only a value range based on old data, market trends and many other outside factors. Knowing the market well and evaluating with an unemotional, unbiased viewpoint are the best indicators when pricing DC real estate.

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