When appraisers are asked to establish the value of a property, they primarily rely upon past sales data. When sellers try to determine the value of their home, they often refer to a price they find on a flyer they have picked up in the neighborhood. Homeowners also frequently refer to their current tax assessed value which may or may not have anything to do with market value but more to do with what the city needs to tax in order to pay its bills. And then, because of the online age we live in, sellers undoubtedly check out Zillow -- the behemoth of all things real estate with their multitude of algorithms which is undoubtedly the most inaccurate of all the methods mentioned above.

So when I am asked to price a home, I pretend to be a buyer and look at what other properties are on the market that might better catch a buyer’s interest. I don’t pay much attention to average MLS statistics even when I segregate those average sales prices within a $50,000 plus or minus price range of what my gut tells me may be the value.

I am also very interested in location and prefer to look within the subdivision or community because most of those homes will be built within a relatively short period of time — three to five years -- and most will have been built by only a handful of builders. They will all be time stamped with the same or similar amenity package. There are, however, nuances in every district. For example, in southeast Anchorage, homes east of Lake Otis in the Huffman area generally have higher values than those west of Lake Otis. That value may have to do with the streetscape or the subdivision layout or even the reputation of the primary builder in the subdivision. Homes north of Northern Lights have greater value than those on the south side. And then there is C street where homes to the west have far greater value than those located east of C. 

Pricing a home for sale is never an exact science. In today’s market, with the severe shortage of inventory, some homes may sell within a few days and have multiple offers while others may languish for weeks, with or without multiple showings. But remember, it is not the seller or the realtor who determines the final value of a home. It is always the willing and qualified buyer.