Here are some of the most important factors that determine home values, as well as a guide to setting the optimum price for your home.

Location, Location, Location

Ask any Realtor the most important factors in determining home values, and the most likely response will be location. Everything else hinges on that one factor. The value of two houses with a similar floor plan, lot size and features, may vary by up to several thousand dollars, depending on where they're located.

There are a number of other factors which come into play with regard to location, including:

  • Good Schools, preferably within easy walking distance. Even if you do not have school-aged children, this will make a difference in your home's resale value. Convenient access to shopping and business centers. You'll also want easy access to major thoroughfare, or a freeway. However, you don't want to be so close that noise or traffic congestion becomes a problem. Houses directly adjacent to main roads may have a lower value than similar houses slightly further away.
  • A low crime rate. Everybody wants to feel safe at home. The presence of a neighborhood Block Watch program is also beneficial.
  • A clean well-kept neighborhood with a variety of residents, including young families, singles, and retirees.
  • Houses on a cul-de-sac are especially appealing because there is minimal traffic and it generally comes from people who live there.

Features Buyers Look For

Taste and style varies in different areas and among individual buyers. It can be difficult to generalize, there are a number of features buyers look for which can enhance the marketability of your home, including:

  • An open floor plan and lots of windows that make the house feel bright, roomy and comfortable. For houses larger than 2,000 square fee, many buyers will prefer multi-levels.
  • A large kitchen that provides easy accesses or is open to the family room. Buyers want plenty of counter and cabinet space and an island can create an easily accessible work area. A breakfast bar and up-to-date appliances are other key selling points.
  • A large family room and master bedroom suite is very popular now. Today's buyers prefer walk-in closets and plenty of storage space.
  • Vaulted ceilings are popular in newer homes and create a feeling of spaciousness.
  • Porch or Patio can also be an important selling feature, a place where people can easily entertain. Covered patios are especially popular, as are screened in patios.

Finding The Right Selling Price

This is an area where my experience can really help you. You need to set a price that gives you the return you want, but are not so high that your home lingers on the market for lack of potential buyers.

The first step is to compare selling prices in your area. I can research the sale prices for the past six months to a year on houses similar to yours, as well as the assessed value of your home.

Next, I'll evaluate your home's location, lot size, age along with size, condition and number of bedrooms and baths. I'll also factor in extra features or improvements you've made, such as the addition of a swimming pool, that make you house stand out from others.

Finally, I'll look at what cosmetic or other improvements you can make to increase your home's curb appeal and help it to show well. There are a number of low-cost fix-ups you can make that will enhance the marketability of your house and increase the potential for a higher selling price.

With all these factors in mind, the right price is usually within 5% of the fair market value, which itself is a constantly changing factor.

Avoid Pricing Errors

The best opportunity for selling your home is during its first 30 days on the market. That's the period when the greatest number of buyers are available.

Set the price too high, and many potential buyers won't even consider your home because they can find a better value somewhere else. If they don't believe your price is justified, they won't even bother to look at it, let alone make an offer. Even if they can afford it, a lender may not approve a loan if the appraisal is lower than the contract price, and you may lose your buyer.

In addition, the longer your home stays on the market the more difficult it may become to sell. Potential buyers who found your price too high have moved on the look at other houses leaving you with a smaller pool of prospects. Buyers seeing your home on the market for several months may assume something is wrong with it. You may even have to drop your price below competing houses in order to attract prospects.