Real Estate Consultation & Home Valuation

Alejandro Szita, broker of Black Sheep Realty

When you are looking to buy or sell a home, an accurate and honest valuation of the property are absolutely key before you even get started!

For sellers, putting a property on the market that is significantly overpriced is a sure way to kill off any hope of making a quick sale. Additionally, when the home sits on the market for too long due to being overpriced, you will most probably eventually be forced to sell the home for under its actual value when you do get an interested buyer. A very undesirable situation!

For buyers on the other hand, overpaying for a new purchase can also be financially lethal. You want to make sure that you know what this property is actually worth before you put in an offer and spend possibly thousands or tens of thousands of dollars just in due diligence.

Most “free” consultations are not really free

Many real estate agents offer free consultations and price estimates, but unfortunately, these are not always accurate. First of all, some agents get their price estimates from automated online software that calculates the average value of home sales in the surrounding neighborhood. IF the neighborhood is a clearly defined, self-contained unit that is not crossed by any important roads, and IF all houses in the neighborhood are EXACTLY the same or consist of maybe four or five models that are continually replicated throughout the neighborhood, this can produce an accurate figure. In fact, if your property is in this kind of neighborhood, the easiest way to get an estimate of the value of your home is just to look on Zillow.

However, most neighborhoods (especially in Los Angeles County) are not like that. Houses were built more or less individually by different contractors and can vary greatly in quality and size—even in the same street. Neighborhoods are not clearly defined in terms of where they begin and end, and being west or east of a certain street can make a difference of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

When it comes to luxury homes, you can definitely not get an accurate home value from Zillow as no house is truly the same.

Even when an agent manages to determine an accurate range of value of your property, you usually run into two problems immediately thereafter that are NOT in your best interest:

  1. You get BOMBARDED with phone calls, emails and texts about listing your house. (After all, they did the work for free! Now they need your listing in order to get paid.) Needless to say, this can be very stressful and is not conducive to giving you enough mental space to make important decisions about your financial future.
  2. Even though they KNOW what your home is worth and will ultimately sell for, they will first ASK YOU what you are expecting to sell it for and then they WILL AGREE with you that it can be sold for that price even though they know that it can’t be and it won’t be sold at that price. They then put the property on the market at the price you want, and then, when it doesn’t sell, they wait until you start getting tired of the house not selling, and then they convince you to make a price reduction. They will then wait some more until you get more and more desperate and make enough price reductions that the house does eventually sell. This IS NOT in your best interest. The longer a house sits on the market, the LOWER it will sell for, just because people expect that if it sits on the market too long, “nobody wants it,” and either this puts them off outright, or they will try to come in with an even lower offer because they think you might accept it. With a house that sits and sits on the market, all the power is in the hands of the buyer.

A good agent first of all knows how to valuate a property correctly, and secondly will tell you the honest and actual value that you can expect to get RIGHT NOW, in the current market, and also if the market is going up or down. It is still up to you what you want to put your house on the market for, of course, but the more detailed and accurate information you have up front, the better prepared you will be and the better will be the outcome in the final sale.

(As an additional note, should the sales value of your property truly be less than what you need in order to accomplish your financial objectives, there may be other financial tools and services that we can provide you with or refer you to, so that you can still achieve your goals.)

Full, detailed real estate consultation and broker’s price opinion—$395 $495

To circumvent these problems, we offer a full and detailed, manual review and analysis of your residential property for a special limited-time fee of $395. This includes a full walk-through with you of your property, pictures of the outside and inside, review of zoning and permits, and 3-4 hours of manually reviewing properties that are ACTUALLY comparable to your property, defining any submarkets in your neighborhood that your property may be part of, going to the county and reviewing zoning issues and county plans for your area if applicable, determining if the market in your area is going up or down, and identifying the current supply and demand in your area. We will provide you with a full report, and we will go over all the details with you in person so that you truly understand what is going on with the market in relation to your property, and so that you can make the best decision about if, when and how to to sell your property to extract the most value.

After we have provided you with this service, we will NOT pound down your door with pleas to let us sell your home, and we will NOT send you five emails or texts a day saying that now is absolutely the best time to sell. We will go our way, and you will go your way, and unless YOU decide otherwise, you will simply never hear from us again.

This leaves you with peace of mind and with accurate and detailed info about your property with which to make important financial decisions.

Especially with luxury properties, it is absolutely fatal to put a house on the market with incorrect pricing, so it makes a lot of sense to invest in an upfront consultation and broker’s opinion of value. However, almost any property that is not in a cookie-cutter neighborhood would benefit from this service.

Broker’s price opinion vs certified appraisal

A broker’s price opinion, such as the one we are offering in this consultation, is not the same thing as an appraisal done by a certified appraiser.

An appraisal by a certified appraiser is usually done on behalf of a lender, and the purpose of it is to verify that is a borrower defaults on a mortgage, the property is actually worth the amount that the borrower is obtaining a mortgage for. So if the lender is going to extend mortgage of a million dollars, they want to know that the house if worth a million dollars in case the borrower defaults.

Certified appraisers have to operate by very strict rules, and they are only allowed to take into account other similar properties that have recently sold. They are not allowed to take into account certain other factors, such as if the market in the local neighborhood has uptrending or if the property has certain features that would make it more appealing to buyers than surrounding properties in the same neighborhood.

Certified appraisers are not in the business of selling homes, and after they appraise a home, they usually do not go back and check to see what a home actually sold for at a later date. The job of an appraiser can become especially difficult in a neighborhood where the homes are vastly different from each other and true comparables cannot easily be found. This tends to be the case in the luxury market.

Because appraisers are usually hired by the lender, they tend to produce appraisal figures that are on the conservative side (so they can be sure that the lender can recoup their money in the case of a mortgage default). However, the appraisal figure can also go the other way. In one instance where a seller hired a certified appraiser to valuate a custom-built luxury home in a prominent celebrity resort in Southern California, he overestimated the value of the house by $630,000. Our own broker’s price opinion came in at $1,150,000, and the appraiser’s valuation came in at $1,750,000. As a result, the client insisted on putting the property on the market for a price that was far too high. The property sat on the market for a year and a half despite ample and well-executed promotion and finally sold at $1,120,000.

In summary—appraisers are accustomed to using a very specific set of rules favored by the lending industry, and using only past data of comparables that have already sold. They are not allowed to anticipate the market and they are not allowed to take special features of a property into account (like solar panels) unless a similar comparable property with the same features and in the same neighborhood has recently sold.

Note: A broker’s price opinion is an opinion of value only, and is only for internal use by the client. It does not provide any guarantees that a home will sell at that price, and it cannot be used as an official valuation document presented to lenders for the purpose of obtaining a loan, mortgage or refinancing (you will need a valuation by a certified appraiser for this).

Expert Consultation with Money Back Guarantee

As a broker, we are in the business of selling homes and properties. We see first-hand how buyers react to certain properties and features, how areas are divided into specific submarkets, and how each of those submarkets behaves over time. Our broker price opinions have consistently ended up within 5% of the final sales price.

We are so confident about our price opinions that we offer you the following guarantee: If your home sells for over 5 percent more or less than our opinion of value within six months of our valuation, we will refund your consultation fee in its entirety.

Additionally, if you hire us to perform a broker price opinion on your property, we will provide you with courteous, professional service and unless YOU wish to be in further communication with us about any additional real estate services you might need, we will never bother you again. We will NOT harass you with phone calls, emails, texts or visits, and in fact, UNLESS YOU TELL US OTHERWISE, you will simply never hear from us again.

Additionally, because you are paying us for our time in doing a proper valuation, you can be sure that we will provide you with an honest assessment of your property’s actual value in the current market without trying to butter you up by giving you an exaggerated value because we want your business as selling agents.

(As a final note: If you have enjoyed our service and do wish to list your house through us at a later time, we will of course be happy to be of service, and we will apply your consultation fee towards any listing commissions later earned. This is only if YOU initiate communication with us after your consultation.)

To request your real estate consultation and broker’s price opinion, please call us at 310-294-9417.