Appraser vs. Real Estate Agent

Asked by Greg Olson, Chicago, IL Mon Sep 23, 2013

My sibling and I inherited our parents condo 41/2 years ago. I live there and pay monthly expenses. We're not ready to sell just yet, but we're trying to figure out how long to hold on to it and what we can do to increase it's value.

We owe just under $300,000 (mortgage plus home equity line of credit). The condo is a 3 bedroom, 2 bath in a small Andersonville building. We would each like to walk away with enough to put a nice down payment on our own places. We need some advice.

1) Sell or Hold?
I'd like to hold for a year, preferably two? I think Andersonville prices will go up nicely. What do you think?

2) Appraiser vs. Real Estate Agent?
I think we should find a very knowledgeable Andersonville real estate agent and ask him or her for a competitive market analysis. My sibling wants to spend $400 on an appraiser. What do you think?

3) Should we make improvements?

I'm out of space here. Thanks in advance.

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Matt Hoyt, Agent, Highland Park, IL
Wed Sep 25, 2013
1) hold. the market is appreciating. Andersonville is a nice location (side street? Brick or stone building) and will appreciate nicely!

2) Realtor (me!) no need to spend money for something you can get without spending. Send me the exact address and i'll put a a CMA together for you.

3) Maybe but maybe not. Send me a few pics when you send me the address. When you are closer to selling, guage the market conditions at that time before improving.
1 vote
Manuel Brown, Agent, Chicago, IL
Tue Sep 24, 2013
You are going to be very popular.

Prices are rising in Andersonville. Your best bet is to work with a broker to determine what the property is worth. Do not count on the prices going up like they did in the late 90's through 2006.
1 vote
Popular? Why? Because brokers love postings like this? I can live with that. :)
Flag Tue Sep 24, 2013
Dick Post, Agent, ORLAND PARK, IL
Tue Sep 24, 2013
The first step would be to talk to an agent who's an expert in the Andersonville area, and ask them for a CMA (Comparative Marketing Analysis). Some Realtors might even offer this as a free service. Talk to whichever Realtor(s) you call about whether it's best to sell or wait, and what if any improvements you should make. If improvements will enhance the value of a home, they might be a good idea, but you don't want to over-improve a property either.
1 vote
JIM Michaels, Agent, Chicago, IL
Mon Sep 23, 2013
email me at and I can assist with your situation
1 vote
Matt Laricy, Agent, Chicago, IL
Mon Sep 23, 2013
Hold. Prices are rising. If you can swing holding it, do so.

Get a Realtor to give you a CMA. Build the relationship now, so when you sell, you already have your go to expert.

Let me know if you need any help.
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1 vote
BJ Tregoning, Agent, Chicago, IL
Mon Sep 23, 2013
I am a broker and an appraiser. Feel free to call or email me if you want to discuss it.
1 vote
Jacqueline S…, Agent, Chicago, IL
Mon Sep 23, 2013
A neighborhood expert real estate agent will do a better job of telling you what the home will sell for, in my opinion. The free CMA is based on experience with the area. The Appraiser could be coming from the suburbs and will pull comps that may not relate directly to your unit. I have frequently found that appraisers do not know the difference between tiers, one may face the lake the other the city and they miss these details.

I would wait until April or May, the peak of the sales season to list the property. You do not want to burn market time during the slower season. Prices tend to adjust up in the spring.
1 vote
Bill J Delig…, Agent, Naperville, IL
Mon Sep 23, 2013
What you want to get out of it and what the market will give you are two different things.

1) If you can afford the loans, assessments, taxes other expenses, etc then holding may be the way to go

2) A CMA from a qualified Realtor will give you enough info to help make a decision

3) Improvements? - it all depends on what your building and neighborhood are selling for. If you can upgrade the unit at minimal cost, then go for it.

Should you need any help, feel free to contact me.
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1 vote
Cindy Wilson, Agent, Chicago, IL
Mon Sep 23, 2013
An appraiser is not going to strategize with you about this home and your selling objectives. An appraiser confirms or helps determine the current market value. You need a trusted advisor to work with you to develop a plan to make the most possible out of the sale of the house. I'm sure there are things you can do to increase the condo's value. You need to assess what to do and when to do it. That's an agent's role. I'm happy to assist or to recommend a colleague who is an Andersonville expert. Please drop me a line at
1 vote
Philip Sencer, Agent, Chicago, IL
Mon Sep 23, 2013
The market has clearly started to change, finally, from the worst R E market in my lifetime. If you can hold another 1-2yrs prices should continue to go back up. It does not cost anything to have 2-3 agents do a market analysis to show you what the market is like now in Andersonville. I see no need to spend on an appraiser. Remember that when an appraisal is eventually done, it is not only Andersonville that is used. Appraisers try to stay within a 1m radius of the subject and if there are not 6 good comps within the Andersonville borders they have no problem going a bit beyond it. It all depends on how many comps they can find and in todays market, it is a bit hard to find comps for some property.
Most improvements do not add more than the cost of them if you have to pay retail prices, but I cannot speak beyond that without seeing the place.
1 vote
Joe Schiller, Agent, Chicago, IL
Mon Sep 23, 2013
your going backwards.. the market is the market is the market.. you need an agent who can help you get the most money possible..I am that agent. waiting will reflect the market and any increase you see will be in equal amount to the market increase for your new real gain and in fact since your are dividing the proceeds the "real" affect will be increased against you if the market increases...also you owe 300K .. your not planning on walking away with a substantial amount regardless
1 vote
I see your point, but neither one of us is yet in a position to buy. I think while we're holding, we should each be focused on putting ourselves in a better position to buy.
Flag Mon Sep 23, 2013
Tony Grech, Mortgage Broker Or Lender, Southfield, MI
Mon Sep 23, 2013
If you are not selling now, then in my opinion an appraisal is a waste of money. An appraisal is merely a representation of what similar condos are selling for right now.

An appraiser can't give you any of the advice you are looking for like a good Realtor can.

They both have access to the same data, only Realtors are probably going to be more plugged in to what is really going on in the market right now.

I would suggest speaking to a Realtor, and if you are hellbent on spending $400 spend it on a private inspection so you can troubleshoot any potential areas of concern and tackle them now. It won't necessarily increase the price of your condo, but it may help it from decreasing.

Good luck!
1 vote
Thanks, Tony. That's how i feel. I think a good agent will give us the best idea of what the place is worth and what buyers want. Eventually we'll need an appraisal, but not just yet.
Flag Mon Sep 23, 2013
Seth Captain, Agent, Chicago, IL
Sat Oct 5, 2013
I live and work with buyers in the Andersonville area, so I'll try to give you some insight from my perspective.

But first...

How much are the homes that you and your brother are looking at? If you plan on moving to the fields near the Wisconsin border, you'll be in great shape. If you want to stay in the Andersonville or Lincoln Square area, you might want to hold on to your place.

On average, those three flat and six flat buildings that were converted to condos over the last 10-15 years in the Andersonville area will get you around $400k for the size place you are talking. Some will go for $450k, and sometimes you can pick it up around $350k. An experienced local agent will help you determine the price based on your condition.

You are going to have realtor fees and closing costs change the amount you owe by another $20k. Don't forget that. There is a reason my brethren drive nice Mercedes.

If you have thee typical unit in the neighborhood, you may get $50,000 each.

You'll have to determine what you mean by 'sizeable'. I know a local sandwich shop that claims to have big sandwiches, but compared to a typical New York deli sandwich, it looks like an Anorexic Special.

If you don't need the money now, you might consider renting as rents are solid in the area (you'll get at least $2200-2500 for this size condo), and the neighborhood is only going one direction in price. And it ain't toward Gary.

The appraiser question is a no with somebody who actually sells and buys these properties, not some rump from Marengo who drives into the city once a week, and then uses stats rather than real work knowledge to determine a price.

Spend your money on inexpensive but tasteful looking items that help your place show well. Again, somebody will experience will point you in the right direction. Or one of the fine lads from the furniture shops on Clark Street.

As a last resort, consider turning your place into a Bed and Breakfast for traveling Trulia aficionados who want to check out the Andersonville neighborhood, local style.
0 votes
Jan Krause, Agent, Chicago, IL
Mon Sep 30, 2013
There is a third choice for you... a Real Estate Broker with a BPOR. This means certified to give you a Broker's Price Opinion, which is used sometimes instead of an appraisal. I have earned this qualification and would would be happy to help you and your family put a value on your property.
0 votes
I was just wondering how would this be better than an area specialist, who know the nuances of the building, the variations in tiers, when on paper the 1 bedrooms all seem the same, but one faces a landmark? We all specialize in areas and buildings.
Flag Mon Sep 30, 2013
Greg Olson, Home Owner, Chicago, IL
Thu Sep 26, 2013
When I speak of making improvements, perhaps "improvements" is too strong a word.

Our home was gutted in 1999 and our parents were the first to occupy it after. When I say improvements, I'm taking about painting, fixing what needs to be fixed, and replacing the dishwasher that's currently broken. The vanities in our bathrooms are builder-level, 1999 vanities, They're not bad, but if I found something nicer for a reasonable amount, I'd consider switching them out.

This sounds pretty standards, yes?
0 votes
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