How do find Boston real estate comps? When you start researching for downtown Boston condo sales prices in your area, it helps to understand what Boston real estate comps are and what information they can tell you. Real estate comps, also referred to as “closed comparable sales,” are completed home sale transactions that have taken place within a specific area and where the homes share similar characteristics with the home you’re selling or considering for purchase. However, you should be aware that a home in Boston’s Back Bay will list for a different price than an exact replica of the same home listed in the Boston Fenway area. Although they have the same layout, just listed for sale in different geographical areas, the value of each home is largely influenced by individual housing market conditions.
Whether you’re selling your first home or you’re a first-time Boston condo homebuyer, finding comparable sales of homes in your area is much easier than it was even ten years ago. Back then, it wasn’t easy to find publicly available data online – you needed the help of an inside connection like a real estate agent or home appraiser to pull comparable sales off of the MLS (multiple listing service). Today there’s much more information available to the public, and you can now access comps with an online search. Let’s explore how to find real estate comps for your area.
When searching for local comps, the first rule of thumb is to find three or more similar properties to ensure that any comparable property isn’t an outlier in price. For example, one home comp in your area may be lower than what you should list your home for sale because it was in poor condition and needed work, or another property may have a high comp because it was the best house on the block. Having at least three property comparables should give you an average price point to start with. Here are five easy ways to get those real estate comps.
Comps are an essential part of listing your Boston Seaport condo for sale and for the home appraisal process. One way to find comps in your area is to use an established Boston real estate listing website for your research.
Our website provides up-to-date recent Boston condo sales data for the last 30-days for each Boston downtown area. You can also request an updated link by emailing John Ford at email@example.com
Another valuable resource for homebuyers and sellers is your county’s public property records. Unfortunately, public property records can be a hit or miss when it comes to comps, as you’ll only be able to find the last recorded sales price, which may be from ten years ago. So if the area market has few or no recent transactions, you could be stuck with property comps that don’t reflect today’s market conditions. Public property records can be a good place to start, but you’ll need additional research to find accurate numbers.
Most counties allow you to search property records online at no cost – although you may need to pay for printed documentation. Visit your county or city website and search for “property records.” The house’s street address should allow you access to property tax information that will show the last sold price and the current taxes.
Real estate agents and brokers use CMAs* to give sellers all the details they need before listing a house for sale. Finding the listing price sweet spot is essential to a quick sale. The best listing price is the one that’s not too low where you end up leaving money on the table or not too high where the home doesn’t sell at all. And for buyers, a CMA can help verify if a home is a good deal and pinpoint a competitive offer that will be taken seriously—without going overboard.
A CMA also provides the most accurate data and details about the home and surrounding area. However, an agent’s CMA is more than just the numbers. The agent provides expert advice to help you assess the home, the current market, prices, and other factors that could affect your list price.
Many real estate agents and brokers have software they use to generate comprehensive CMA reports. If you’re creating your own report, it would be best to use a spreadsheet to keep track of your research.
A typical CMA will include:
- The address of the property and three to five comps in the area
- Description of each comparable property, including elevation, floor plan, and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms
- The square footage of each property
- The sales price of each comparable property
- Dollar adjustments will be made for any differences
- The adjusted sold price per square foot of each comp
*This is not intended as an appraisal and is not a substitute for the services of a professional, licensed appraiser.
How do I use comps to price my home?
Real estate comps help you price your home accurately by giving you a range for its “fair market value” based on recent market activity. Then you can add or subtract from the fair market price based on the home’s condition, special features, and other characteristics that buyers will likely consider.
To be considered a comparable property, a property should ideally match your house in:
Location: Location matters. In some areas, a property’s value can change from neighborhood to neighborhood, from block to block, or even within 100 yards. Start by looking for comps within a 1-mile radius and move out to 5 miles if necessary. Expert knowledge can help you understand nuances in a neighborhood, so take your time or ask an agent to help you.
Neighborhood: Real estate comps should have the same neighborhood features, such as distance to schools, stores, hospitals, waterfronts, parks, and views. Also, keep in mind access to public transportation and walkability.
Year built: Consider houses built within a 5-year range of your home being built. It’s often assumed that an older home needs work and hasn’t been updated. While this isn’t always the case, a newer home will initially have a higher fair market value.
Size of the home: Square footage plays a significant role in comparing home values. After all, if one home has 1000 square feet and another 2000 square feet, you are buying a larger home, and it should cost more to purchase. Square footage will raise or lower the value of the real estate comps you’re looking at. The best comps for you will be properties that are comparable to yours.
Layout: If the home has a strange layout or is partitioned into smaller, separate rooms, it can bring down the value and the sales price.
Price per square foot: Calculate the price per square foot by dividing the home’s sale price by its square footage. Price per square foot is always a good yardstick for neighborhood comparisons.
The number of beds and baths: A home’s value typically increases when there are more bedrooms and bathrooms. This translates into a higher sales price and considering higher comps.
Condition: If the house was in disrepair and needed a lot of work and investment to make it livable, the price the home last sold for may reflect a fixer-upper. However, on the surface, these deals would show up in comps the same as if the house was move-in ready. It’s important to dig further to see what any unusually high or low sales prices might reflect and help put these comps in perspective.
Upgrades and renovations: When a homeowner updates a bathroom or renovates a kitchen, their home value typically increases. Consider any renovations or upgrades you see in your real estate comps and how those compare to your home’s features. Does your home have a new kitchen or a deck that needs fixing? Either of these will undoubtedly have an impact on your home’s value.
Timeframe of when the comps sold: Focus on homes that have been sold within a 3- to 6-month period. In a hot market that favors the seller, you may want to focus on an even shorter timeframe.
Real estate agents and brokers use real estate comps every day to do their jobs. An agent or broker will use comps to suggest a listing price for a home that’s about to go to market and represents a fair market price. Agents also have access to any pending sales, which would affect real estate comps and CMA reports. The sales volume in your area will also drive the fair market price on any home being listed for sale. For example, if your housing market is currently a seller’s market and homes are selling quickly, buyers may be making higher offers than they would be in a market that’s not so competitive.
Understanding real estate comparables and the state of the market in your local area is essential. It can help you make an informed decision about buying or selling a property.
Home sellers use comps to understand what similar homes in the area are selling for, allowing them to set a list price they feel confident in. Comps also help home sellers clarify their home’s selling points which will be highlighted in the home’s description when it’s listed for sale.
Homebuyers use accurate real estate comps for making an offer. By researching similar properties in the area, buyers can verify that the listing price is fair, or if the price is too high or low. Comps are also helpful in creating a strategy for negotiating a home sale.
Home appraisers perform home appraisals as one of the most important steps to completing the sale of a home. First, the buyer’s mortgage lender usually initiates an appraisal. Next, they call a professional appraiser to determine the value of the house in question. The appraiser relies on real estate comps and several other factors in determining an accurate property value that can make or break a sale. The cost of the home appraisal will be covered by the homebuyer.
Finding and analyzing comps can be tricky. However, you can always work with a local real estate agent or broker with expertise in your market. They can help you nail down a good price to list your home.
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Boston Condo Comp FAQ
What is a Boston real estate comp?
Real estate comps, also referred to as “closed comparable sales,” are completed home sale transactions that have taken place within a specific area and where the homes share similar characteristics with the home you’re selling or considering for purchase. However, you should be aware that a home in Boston’s Back Bay will list for a different price than an exact replica of the same home listed in the Boston Fenway area. Although they have the same layout, just listed for sale in different geographical areas, the value of each home is largely influenced by individual housing market conditions.
How do I find Boston real estate comps?
When searching for local comps, the first rule of thumb is to find three or more similar properties to ensure that any comparable property isn’t an outlier in price. For example, one home comp in your area may be lower than what you should list your home for sale because it was in poor condition and needed work, or another property may have a high comp because it was the best house on the block. Having at least three property comparables should give you an average price point to start with.
Location: Location matters, Neighborhood: Real estate comps should have the same neighborhood features, Timeframe of when the comps sold, Year built, Size of the home, Layout, Price per square foot, The number of beds and baths, Condition and Upgrades and renovations
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Updated: Boston Real Estate 2021