What's Mom's House Worth?

What is the value of Mom's House on the Cape?

(CAPE COD) What's Mom's house worth? We all know that a house on the Cape is worth at least $500,000, and those people offered her $450,000 two years ago. And Mom's house is so special ...

It's not that way at all - just like every real estate market everywhere, the Cape Cod real estate market is extremely local. There is only one way to get a definite value - sell the house. Whatever someone pays for it is what it's worth. There are ways to estimate the value of Mom's house on the Cape and determine a sensible listing price.

You may be familiar with Zillow.com, a national web site that advertises properties for sale and provides 'zestimates' of value on specific properties based on a mathematical formula. The estimates on Zillow.com are somewhat accurate, but are not sufficient to determine a reasonable listing price.

The Assessor's Office in the town where Mom's house is located provides an estimate of value through your tax assessment, the basis for the amount of property tax paid on the property. Assessed value can be used to develop a fair market value when other information is added in, but assessed value rarely reflects accurate, current fair market value of a particular property by itself.

The only way to 'precisely' determine the present fair market value of a property is to hire a licensed professional appraiser. Most homeowners do not hire an appraiser - at least not directly. For a property to be mortgaged, some type of appraisal is conducted by the lender to determine value, and occasionally Medicaid 'lookbacks' or other legal challenges involve appraisers.


For most people, an opinion of value or a competitive market analysis [CMA], both provided at no cost or obligation by a knowledgeable local Realtor®, is sufficient to determine a reasonable listing price and estimate the eventual selling price.

An 'Opinion of Value' is based on the Realtor's® local expertise, his or her intuitive 'feel' for a listing and eventual selling price. It is an informal process, but, when performed by an experienced professional, it can be right on the money.

The CMA is a more formal presentation, using techniques similar to those of a licensed, professional appraiser to determine fair market value; it compares your property to;

  • A minimum of three similar properties,
  • that have sold within six months,
  • located within a quarter-mile of your property.
The analysis and weighting of these factors determines the market value. Other factors determine the listing price. The CMA also determines the top listing price for a property, taking relevant expired and withdrawn listings into consideration.

The bottom line is that to determine the value of your Mom's House on the Cape someone familiar with the market must see the house - what's inside, how it fits together, the condition and how it will appear to a fresh set of eyes seeing it for the first time.


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