Understanding the Difference Between an Appraisal vs Neighborhood Listing Prices

Why is there such a difference between what my appraised value is and the price similar homes are selling for on my street?

It’s a great question, and you don’t have to be a mortgage professional or a real estate agent to understand the answer.

The distinction lies in the purpose of the two valuations and who is responsible for creating them.


The purpose of an appraisal is to make sure that an independent non-interested third party verifies the “most likely” sale price based on the market value and condition of the home.

Appraisals are meant to be a realistic determination of the value of a home if it were to sell in the current market, in its current condition.

In addition, appraisers are governed by rules intended to standardize the subjective process of determining a home’s value.

Some of the key factors appraisers look at are: location, above ground size, room count, bathroom count, style of home, condition of property, amenities, and market conditions such as how long it takes for home to sell and if values are increasing, decreasing or steady.

Appraisers are also asked to look only at comparable sales within a certain distance, usually one mile except in rural areas, and within a specified period of time, which is 3 months in the current market.

Listing Prices:

Listing prices on the other hand are influenced by the real estate agent, and set by interested and often emotional sellers.

Sellers are not held by any rules when they list a home. In some cases, sellers take what they paid for the house, add what they have spent on improvements and even add amount for profit.

Often times, sellers will list their home based on the amount needed to pay for the real estate agent, closing costs and cover the amount of the mortgages.

Extra low prices are generally the result of an extra motivated seller that has to sell and move in a rush, so they’ll list their property below market comps in order to be the most competitive.

Throw in bank owned homes (foreclosed properties), and listing prices may be all over the place without a logical explanation due to an asset manager making decisions from another part of the country.

The Verdict:

While list price is never a good indication of what a home in your neighborhood is worth, appraisals are not an exact science that will determine the true value of your home either.

Some will argue that a home is worth what people will pay for it, so there’s obviously a little room for personal interpretation.  Either way, the bank securing that piece of real estate for a mortgage loan generally always has the final opinion that matters the most.


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March 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment

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About Allen

Allen is President and Founder of First Trust Mortgage, a family owned, 15 year old, mortgage planning firm in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. First Trust Mortgage was founded in 1996 and provides residential mortgages in Florida. Allen's vision for First Trust Mortgage was based on two principles. First was to help his clients make informed decisions regarding residential mortgages. Second was to build long lasting relationships with his clients and referral partners. Over the past 5 years Allen has concentrated his education and efforts in the area of managing Real Estate equity through mortgage planning. Allen was one of the first certified mortgage planning specialists in the State of Florida and is a regular guest of Steve Pomegranate's "On The Money" radio program on NPR and Ray West's "Talk About Money" radio program on WAFG. Allen also teaches continuing education classes to certified financial planners and insurance professionals around the subject of managing equity in real estate. Allen graduated from the Pennsylvania State University in 1983. Allen has been lending in Florida since 1985 when he joined Great Western Bank (Washington Mutual) managing the company's Florida Commercial Real Estate Mortgage operation. In 1996 /1997 Great Western Bank was sold to Washington Mutual and Allen formed First Trust Mortgage Corporation. In 2003 Allen focused his practice on Strategic Real Estate Equity Management and is considered to be an expert on that topic. Allen practices personally the concepts he shares with the clients, peers and financial service providers. Allen exclusively participates in the residential mortgage industry and has purposely chosen to hold no other licenses even though he has participated and passed the class requirement for the Florida Real Estate Commission, Florida Mortgage Broker, Health, Life & Variable annuities license. Specialties Helping Consumers, Realtors and Financial Service Professionals Keep Current On Mortgage Trends and Provide Mortgage Solutions As Needed. In Addition I Love To Educate Seniors On The Use of Reverse Mortgages and First Time Homebuyers On How Much Payment Is Enough.

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