Real Estate in Annandale, VA
Caught in a Net
By: Scott Pearson, Pearson Realty
With today’s modern technology, and the desire of publishing companies to be the know-all in the real estate market, many folks turn to the internet to begin their home buying and selling research. There are myriad sites that claim to be of assistance, but any site that claims to know the specific value of a piece of property is probably blowing some smoke.
Real property is unique. No two houses are exactly the same, even if constructed by the same builder, duplicating a design. And as homes age in place, the differences from one house to the next become even more pronounced, because many factors come into play.
One owner is a handyman and enjoys maintaining and enhancing the original house. The other owner has trouble getting up the energy to change a bulb. One owner is content to mow the grass every two weeks and another has spent money and time to perform landscaping and add careful plantings around the yard.
Then there’s location. One house abuts a busy road and another is set back and is located in a quieter setting. And additions. One house added a deck and a patio of decorative pavers to the yard. The other has a patch of dirt with a barbeque grill plopped in the middle. Or subtractions. One house has suffered water damage from a burst pipe and the walls remain stained or broken.
Each of the foregoing can affect the value of a house as judged by the marketplace. But the point is that none of the foregoing is going to move the needle on a web site. The web site doesn’t know there was a kitchen fire that did damage. The internet does not know the basement flooded. And it certainly doesn’t know that the next door neighbors like to sit on a couch in the front yard and play banjo music until nine every summer night.
I recently tried one of these sites for two, apparently identical townhouses that sat side-by-side in an Annandale neighborhood. Neither I, nor the people running the web site, had ever been inside either home. There was practically no difference between the two town homes’ information on the multiple listing service. Yet, the web site valued one of the town homes at 15% higher than the other.
I also noticed that more often than not the internet will err on the high side. After I pondered this a while the answer became clear. Most people checking values are trying to discover what their house is worth. Seeing an inflated number makes them feel good so the site is delivering customer satisfaction of a kind.
This can lead to all kinds of problems especially if the seller lives elsewhere (like an executor to an estate) and does not understand the specifics of the Annandale market, and its varying neighborhoods. We have also noticed in our property management efforts that it can skew landlords’ perception of value and fair rents.
Knowing what a property is realistically worth, whether residential or commercial, is key to making intelligent decisions about that property. You may start on the web, but don’t get caught in a net of questionable information. And if you want to know what your property is worth, call us.
Median Sales Price of Annandale Homes
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