Home buyers often run in fear that a real estate agent might “make” them pay too much. When all your friends are telling you there’s amazing discounts everywhere it can be daunting making an offer on a place. What if you pay too much? Successful bargain-hunting earns you the ultimate social status in 2011, like a victorious marauder returned with the spoils of war. But what if you liked it so much you paid full price, or bought as the only bidder at the auction? The social shock and horror….
So it’s no surprise we’re seeing more and more fact-searching before buyers submit an offer. Online resources have expanded remarkably over recent years and one site’s now released “Guesstimates”, providing an instant “value” of any house in Australia. Even they call it a “guess” and it follows a model similar to an American tool called a Zestimate. We first wrote about them almost 5 years ago and they’ve since caused plenty of confusion in the Land of the Free (data). Guesstimates do use some science to come up with a price range. But it’s pretty rough – in both directions. One home we sold recently (so it’s not yet recorded in official data) sold for 20% or $100,000 less than the website tells us it’s worth. Must be a lousy agent! Inner-city buyers won’t get much from the tool because apartments don’t seem to appear in their data and nor do houses on community title.
And a tip for apartment buyers relying on online sales data: watch out for lot numbers versus apartment numbers. They’re often different and the official stats report lot numbers only. Announcing the Guesstimate launch their product manager said “To meaningfully price a property for sale, more in-depth information and local knowledge is required – this is where real estate agents and professionals, as local experts, have skill sets that are invaluable.”
So consider this: would a good agent spend their Saturday afternoons standing out the front of a home that’s 20% over the market? Home buyers do need to do their homework and be comfortable with their offered price. But as a wise person once told us, “Don’t let someone else buy the home for a price you were prepared to pay”.
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