Home Buying in Mechanicsburg>Question Details

Jay, Home Buyer in

Why does my realitor gives me different stats than Trulia, not in my favor ($150/sqft v $132sq/ft)?

Asked by Jay, Sun May 18, 2008

My realitor gave me price/sq foot of $150 of comparible houses sold in Mechanicsburg, PA. Of the comparables she gave me, there were nine houses over the span of August 2007 to March 2008-- only two homes were in 2008. None of the homes were really comparables, only based upon sqft between 1100-1500. Trulia gave the price/sq ft of all houses sold at $132/sqft over the past year. When I did the numbers myself over the past 3 months using Trulia data, I came up with $114/sq ft. Not only that, but I found 26 houses that were sold in the past 3 months based on the same criteria of comparables my realitor used-- none of these were included in her list. My realitor found only 9 housing in the past year and I fould 26 houses in the past 3 months. The different of $150/sq ft and $114/sqft makes a big difference. I am beginning to really question the realitor with whom I am working. WHoes stats are right? WHo do I believe?

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You've asked several questions.

First, which information is more reliable, the local board of realtors managed MLS, or Trulia. Answer: your local MLS. Trulia is a "good" attempt to get information about home values, but it is not "THE" source of the sold data. In our market, Trulia often shows sold information that is inaccurate, some by quite a bit. It also sometimes lists as sold, properties that are not, and vice versa.

Second, you asked who to believe. I would trust the data coming from my local MLS before I would ever consider trusting a conclusion from Trulia (sorry Trulia).

Third, should you trust your agent. If everything else is going well, and the only reason you ask the question is because of the difference between their data and Trulia, then based on the above, you don't really have any reason not to trust them. If other things are bothering you, that's a different story.

Show the Trulia data to your realtor and ask them to help you understand why the two are so different. If you don't like the answer, find another realtor, but at least give them a chance to help you understand the discrepancies.

Good luck,

5 votes Thank Flag Link Sun May 18, 2008
Most of the points you raise--some good ones--should be posed to your Realtor. For instance, are comps going back to August 2007 really good comps? In today's market, I'd be cautious of anything more than 3-4 months old. But she may have a good reason for using those.

Given a choice between Trulia stats and MLS stats, I'd be more inclined to believe the MLS stats. But don't "believe" either of them. Compare, and check them out.

Also--not picking on you--but I'm getting increasingly irritated with these precise calculations of cost per square foot. Look: That number is useful to builders in constructing houses. It's useful if you're putting on an addition to your home. But it's really not as important when buying or selling. Cost per square foot doesn't address condition. It doesn't address upgrades. It doesn't really address lot size. It doesn't address proximity to highway traffic or noise. It doesn't address the cars up on blocks across the street. It doesn't address the seller's degree of motivation. Sure, each of those elements will have some effect on the value of a specific property...and that's what you should be looking at. Not an overall, averaged figure that has more relevance to construction than to living.

Your offer on any property should take all those elements into consideration as they apply to the specific property you're making an offer on. So, if the house is older, needs upgrades, and the seller is motivated, then your offer should be lower. If the house has been completely rehabbed, it's on a large and nicely landscaped lot, and is close to schools and shopping, you might end up offering (or paying) more than for that older house in need of upgrades.

So: Talk to your Realtor about the specific questions you have--the apparent disparities between what she presented and what you found. But then recognize the severe limitations that buying a property, basing your price largely on the square foot cost of other proprties, really does have.
3 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 22, 2008
Don Tepper, Real Estate Pro in Fairfax, VA
Your agent actually saw your home. She/He may have cherry picked the homes that were the closest in descripton to your home based upon condition of home, curb appeal, upgrades and amenities. The 26 homes found on trulia, more than likely includes distress sale homes, homes in poor condition, homes with smaller lots, foreclosures and homes in less desirable neighborhoods. Prices per square vary drastically between neighborhoods.

Your agent want's your home to sell for fair market value and I would see no advantage for your agent to over price your home. If you are satisfied with $114 a square foot ask your agent to reduce the home and pehaps is will sell quickly.
Web Reference: http://www.cathysloan.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed May 28, 2008
Your Real Estate Agent has personal knowledge of your area and market conditions.
Computer responses to questions don't consider all aspects of your market and the specific property you inquired on.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jul 29, 2008
You should be comparing what several different agents prepared in the Comparative Market Analysis and using Trulia and Zillow only as general frames of reference. Trulia and Zillow come up with their estimates based on historical numbers using complex formulas. Agents on the other hand see what is going on in the market today and have actually visited the home and can therefore adjust prices accordingly. Make sure you go with the agent who comes up with the best estimate compared to other homes sold, listed, and your home's features and not just the one that comes up with the highest amount.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jul 29, 2008
Sq footage is a small part of the equation. Location, condition, age, attributes, and style of home are far more important when dealing with existing homes. Square footages can be very misleading and if comparing a new build with an existing home they can become totally irrelevent.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jul 29, 2008
It sounds like you may wish to get an appraiser's opinion on a specific property's value. Square foot cost figures maybe helpful on new construction but too many variables are in play if the home is older. The key to value is both accurate data ( sales and trends) and as few adjustments as possible. Style and quality of construction may have you comparing apples and oranges.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 28, 2008
Hi Jay... If you are in doubt of your value then sit down with your agent and go through each comp to make sure you and your agent are delivering apples with apples...
Short of that - and I am assuming you are looking for a higher value to sell why not employ an appraiser to get their analysis? You can then ask the appraiser why and how as to the values etc.
Maybe you would feel more confident with paying for an appraiser rather than a FREE CMA from an experienced agant?
Either way to 'find the market' and value of your home you will ultimately need to 'get it listed' so the market can indicate if you (and/or your agent or appraiser) are high or low...
Remember it is an objective view that will always diifer between the agent and the seller - sellers ALWAYS think they have the best home and value on the block and buyers ALWAYS think it is a worthless property...
REMEMBER we are in a buyers market here and that last quarter showed Central Pa to have a 7% increase in values acroos the board, experts say we are getting an increase again in this next quarter and that will drive sale prices up...Hope that helps...
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 22, 2008
Jay when I do a comparative market analysis and a price trend analysis I may have 20 or thirty properties I use. But once I"ve done my job of sorting through all the data (which can take hours and sometimes days if it's a difficult property to comp and I need to see some of the houses) I usually only use 9 myself. I pick the nice that best match my sellers criteria. If the rest are only making my case for me I don't need to use them. If nine paints a clear picture for your client why get hung up on the rest if they are all depicting the same results. Also consider Trulia is broad based and information for pricing your home needs to be based on local market trends. Your paying your agent to do a job and if your spending all your time second guessing her then maybe she/he wasn't right for you to begin with. If you can't feel confident in their ability to guide you and provide you accurate information it can make the process very frustrating for you and them. Relax and let your agent do their job. Best of luck to you.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon May 19, 2008
I think Jeffrey made some good points. Here are a couple quick points to keep in mind. Trulia's information is based on broker feeds. This means that they rely on brokers agreeing to feed their listings to Trulia. Unless every single broker in the area feeds, the numbers will be inaccurate. WebMD doesn't take the place of a physician's diagnosis and Trulia doesn't take the place of a professional Realtor's analysis. Square footage is very subjective. It's value can only be seriously considered if you are dealing with an exact apples to apples comparison. Factors that have to be taken into account are: age, condition, school district, neighborhood, style, decor, improvements, garage, bedrooms, bathrooms, heating (and age), A/C?, roof age, updated kitchen and bathrooms?....I think you get the point. Don't rely just on price per square foot. You have to dig much deeper. Part of our job is to educate our clients. Ask your Realtor to sit down and explain their numbers to you. If they can't do that then maybe you should move on.
Web Reference: http://www.harrisburbs.net
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun May 18, 2008
Do you want stats, or do you want help finding a house that fits your needs at a reasonable price? (Or at least as reasonable as possible:-)
Jeffrey gave a good answer. I too have found online search sites less than accurate on numerous occasions. There are so many variable that one can search under, that it is possible to get a wide range of figures depending on which stats are used.
Even in one search engine, there are huge amounts of variables. For example, do you include only statistics for Mechanicsburg area zip code? or Mechanicsburg area schools? or countywide area? Or do you you use a map search, or township? (Mechanicsburg is included in map 'section #6' if you are using the Central Penn MLS section codes, but that also includes CampHill, NewCumberland, Monroe Township, etc)
Do you want stats to include all ages of homes? or only the new homes? or within a 10 year range of yours? Do you think that homes with more acerage should be included or only those that are on city lots? how large of a lot? Single story style only? or all bilevels, 2 story and ........???The list goes on and on....
I trust that your Realtor took a number of factors into consideration in searching out the stats that best fit your situation.
I'm betting that what you really want is not more stats, but the knowledge that you are making a reasonable decision on your real estate transaction. As a Realtor with nearly a quarter of a century of experience serving clients here in the Cumberland Valley, I'm with Jeffrey. Ask for clarification if there is something that you do not understand. A good Realtor who knows your area is a most valuable asset.
Blessings as you find one, and your next house!
Hope that helps
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun May 18, 2008
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