Especially in a declining market, there is a preference for comps that are less than a month old, then to three, and pushing to 6 months is painful. If a comp is, say, 6-months old and the market has been dropping 2% per month, you could easily see a smaller home be considered worth more than the larger home.
Active listings "define" the upper end of the market. If there are other active listings, say for a 2400 sf house, for the same price or less than your 2100 sf house, the sold comps may have to be given less weight because the _current_ market is saying that the home is worth less.
You might also check sites like FinestExpert.com or cyberhomes or homegain to get a sense of prices. These is no way compare with a good appraisal, but they might give you some insights - by looking at what they consider to be comps.
Robert T. Boyer, Ph.D.
Real Estate Investor Advisor
America's Finest Real Estate
San Diego's Finest Real Estate
There are so many variables when comparing houses. Is there a difference in the lot size? Were the homes built around the same time? Does one have more amenities than the other?
Your best bet to find out how the appraiser derived his appraisal is to call him and ask him to explain his method to you.
Hope you got your house!
Typically smaller homes will be more expensive per square foot, so as the home size increases, the price per square foot will decrease. There are all kinds of other adjustments that can be made (condition, view, lot size, lot location, etc...) As Tony mentioned, the lack of recent comparables make it more difficult. How did the appraisal compare to what your agent came up with in their comparative market analysis?
Marcie Sands, REALTOR
Simply The Best Real Estate Company, Inc.
It's a highly subjective process and unfortunately for whatever reason appraisers do not use avg price per square foot to derive their pricing adjustments based on a size compensation.
I think this is because in today's real estate market every one is erring on the side of caution and if there are not enough true "comps" in the last 3-6 months then an appraiser is going to always be as conservative as possible, unfortunately even if it compromises a deal.
This is done to protect the lender AND you, the buyer. Obviously real estate agents and loan officers, like myself, aren't happy when something like this arises but it's part of the business nowadays and in my opinion a byproduct of irresponsible practices in the past that partly led to the real estate bubble bursting.