determining value

I have read several books on RE and they all say that you need to do your homework when it comes to determining value. I know how find prices for previously sold houses in the area.
My question is how do I find more information on previously sold houses? Say for example that I am looking at a property in an area and I want to compare the amenities between the 2 or more homes where can I go to get this info?

Appraisers or Realtors can show you sold comps in the area. If you are dealing direct with a seller use the appraiser if you are using a Realtor make them earn there 2.8% and get the sold comps for you.

County Records will also show you more info on the house’s as well.

  • From a ‘friendly’ Realtor - they would give you a CMA.

  • By getting an appraisal

This is also why the conventional wisdom tells you to do your homework and find out everything that you can about your target investment area. After a whiule, you’ll be able to discern a value bargain on your own!


If you were starting out and are trying to establish a crtieria. How big of a radius would you start with?

Not to exceed 20 or 25 miles.


If you are asking about the radius of your comps to subject properties, less is better. By default, lenders generally want to see comps within .5 miles, and sold dates within the last 6 months. If the subject property is in a rural area and is unique (such as a log home where there are no other log homes), then the lender will generally allow the comp radius to be expanded. However, in cases such as this, the lender may make the appraiser get a few more comps. It just depends on how unique or conforming the subject property is.

…ooooops my bad. I htought he meant how big an area to invest in!

Turborocket is right – about 1/2 mile


thanks alot for the replies

That also depends on the area. Where I live the new house my wife and I are buying there is not another house within .5 miles not even a mile.

An appraisal is worth nothing.

An appraisal is someones opinion on what a house is worth

Comparables are buyers who put their money where their mouth is and bought.

Use comparables backed up by an appraisal

I disagree. Appraisals are worth something since it is based on 3 comparable sales, generally. Cost approach also available in most appraisals.

I still disagree.

An appraisal will back up your purchase price, but arriving at it alone with an appraisal is not good.

3 comps is what you base your FMV at?

Thats not a very good representation in my opinion of FMV

What if those 3 were the highest sales in the last month?

I get at least 10 comps.

You are inferring that I am saying to use an appraisal solely. I never said that. I just said it is worth something - not “nothing”. I also posted to let the OP know (in case he/she didn’t know already) that the basis of an appraisal is comps. It’s almost like, which one came first, the chicken or the egg - not quite, but close. :slight_smile:

The quality of comps is what matters. If you get 10 comps from your realtor, it is still the quality of the comps that matter.

A good appraiser will generally make many phone calls to talk to the seller or realtor for each comp, to get a better sense of condition of comps, like attributes, etc. An appraisal is very detailed. I doubt comps on a realtor-supplied CMA would drill down to the detail that an appraisal would.


Well we all do it a little different.

I guess maybe I read it wrong as you were using appraisals for buying FMV price.

If not, no skin here

If you read the origional post, the guy was asking about determining FMV, so thats why I was disagreeing with you.