Aug. 11, 2010

Under Pricing Short Sale Real Estate

Solenzara at Bonita Beach Florida

Short Sale List Price vs. Appraisal Value


The biggest issues both sellers and buyers have when dealing with and understanding the intricacies of short sales is how the appraisal process can effect the transaction.

Recently a home seller requested a price opinion on a home that would be a short sale. The home owner felt the price quoted by one of the interviewed real estate agents was particularly low. Even though the home was being sold short, at the quoted price they really felt that they would be “giving it away”.

The home seller was correct in being concerned about listing the home at too low of a price. While a lower list price will materialize a faster contract, that contract needs to also endure the appraisal process in order to close sale.

One of the many gears in the short sale machine is that darned appraisal. The lender being asked to forgive the homeowners debt is usually taking a heck of a hit and wants to be sure that the home is being sold for its current market value. The majority of the time the lender or loan servicer had nothing to do with determining the list price and, of course, the list price of the property doesn’t indicate its value.

The appraisal is a means to vet mispriced or “drama priced” properties simply to get an offer. It also flushes out schemes to game the system for the purpose generating sweetheart deals for friends or family members or for the homeowners themselves in a buy back scheme. Surely you aren’t surprised that people are doing that, are you?

The fact of the matter is that you could paper the walls of Mall of America with failed short sale purchase offers that died when the bank or investor countered the offer over list price. Buyers get a little miffed and bail out when they feel they “offered full price” only to be counter offered after months of waiting. The buyer trots off into the sunset and the home owner starts over with a new and improved list price to support the appraisal.

So what’s a seller to do when they’re pricing their short sale real estate? First, they have to start out as close to the estimated value of the property as possible. Second, they have to be mindful of standing inventory and what the absorption rate is for the community. What is or is not on the market at the time, the pending sales about to close and the rate properties are selling at is going to have an effect on the sale, appraisal and market value.

The homeowner who was questioning the proposed list price being too low was located in a community with about six to seven months of inventory, which is essentially a balanced market. The proposed list price was about twenty percent under recent closed sales which were recorded within the last thirty days.

Whether that home owner lists twenty percent below market value or for one dollar the end result would, in all probability, be the same. The list price is wrong and the bank will counter the offer when the appraisal comes in.

The end result is that the less than committed buyer ends up walking and that contract ends up decking the halls of Mall of America or at the bottom of the bird cage, right beside this little work of art.


Real Life in Bonita Springs is a project by Chris Griffith dedicated to writing useful blog posts for consumers about the Bonita Springs, Florida area.  Find out what it is really like to live in Bonita Springs, Florida by reading about our fair city. You’ll get the latest in local real estate information, Bonita Springs real estate market reports and a little bit of humor.  If you have topic ideas, feel free to request a story about the idea, after all, this site is just for you.

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