6 Ways Agents Can Use Their MLS Listings To Help Appraisers

Appraisers Research and Analyze The Market

Most agents in the Birmingham, Alabama market where I work are great about answering any questions I have about their listings. It’s an appraiser’s job to mimic what a detective might do when they are researching information to help them understand the facts of a case so we tend to ask a lot of questions.

6 Ways Agents Can Use Their MLS Listings To Help Appraisers

Appraisers study the behavior of buyers to understand their motivations and then they measure the effects of that motivation on what buyers are willing to pay for a house. One way for the appraiser to understand buyer motivation is to know exactly what factors they considered when purchasing a home.

As you might expect, buyers are usually motivated by the physical features of a home among other things. The more we know about these features the more we can understand their effect on value.

During the normal course of business, appraisers must verify information about the comparables they use (agents can also do this to improve how they list homes-Click Here to read my past article). They must also find out everything about the comparable so that they can assess how it compares to the property that is being appraised.

The majority of this information comes from an MLS listing. I have discovered that some MLS systems have more information than others, however, I am a big believer in having as much information as possible because it makes it easier to measure its impact on the final sale price.

If an agent provides enough information in the MLS listing the appraiser will have everything they need and may not even have to ask any additional questions.

Today I’m going to share with you the type of information appraisers wish agents would include in their listings. If you would like to add anything else please leave a comment below.

6 Ways Agents Can Use Their MLS Listings To Help Appraisers

1) Accurate square footage – Accurate square footage is one of the most important things an agent can include in their listing. This is especially true when you consider the fact that most other agents, in addition to appraisers, use this information to determine the price per square foot.

The Birmingham MLS allows the agent to list several different sources for this information, including tax records, sellers, building plans, and appraisers. It’s important that whatever source you use you should be confident about its accuracy.

I have seen many times where the square footage was grossly inaccurate. When this occurs it can adversely affect decisions buyers make and it results in flawed sales data that will be used by others in pricing and appraisals.

You can check out some older posts I’ve written about how to get accurate square footage or give me a call if you have a question.

2) Lots of good quality pictures – As they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words”. I go through every picture of the sales I am using as comps and the more there is the better.

Pictures help us to understand the condition, quality, and appeal of a house. Pictures can act as support for the narrative write-up of a listing and answer any questions we might have.

The majority of listings I have seen have plenty of good-quality pictures to help me understand the quality, condition, and features of the property. There are some, however, that either has very poor quality or no pictures at all. When this is the case, we have to get this information elsewhere such as by calling the agent.

3) Accurate pool information – A pool is one of the Top 10 features that move the needle on value. Because of this, it is important to have accurate information about the pool information in the MLS.

There are various types of pools including above-ground and inground styles. Appraisers DO NOT include above-ground pools in the appraisal of homes because they are considered personal property and can be moved.

When appraising a home with a pool, the pool feature is one I always check because it is important for the sales to have pools as well. If you sell a home with a pool but you do not mark this feature in the MLS listing the property will not turn up in the appraiser’s search.

Your property may be the best comp available, however, if it is not listed as such the appraiser will not be aware of it unless they find out about it from another information source.

4) Accurate land area information – Depending on the size of the land a house is situated on it can be a large part of the overall value of the property. If land value varies between properties it is very important to determine the value differences between the properties as a result of the land.

It is important for this information to be as accurate as possible in the MLS listing. If it is not then the result could be similar to when the house’s square footage is wrong.

Including plot plans or surveys with the listing can help the appraiser get the most detailed land information to make sure accurate comparisons are made for comp purposes.

5) Special or Unique Features – I always recommend that if there is something unique about a property that influences the value then it should be noted in the MLS listing. It’s extremely helpful to have this information because it explains why a buyer may have paid more for this house than they would have for another one.

This is how appraisers determine adjustments. We isolate features of a home that impact value and then we analyze sales to determine how much a specific feature affected the sales price.

If you want to be the favorite agent to EVERY appraiser then you can go one extra step further. In your day-to-day conversations with buyers and their negotiations with sellers, if the buyer ever says “I’m willing to pay $5,000 (random number) to have that feature in my home” that is pure gold. By documenting this in the listing you would be helping the appraiser account for price differences between properties.

This “adjustment amount” is being taken directly from the market and can be used in appraisals. Keep in mind that this action would have to have actually occurred in a closed sale (sorry but off-the-cuff comments resulting in no signed and closed contracts don’t count here).

6) Terms of Sale-Financing, etc. – The last thing I wanted to mention that agents can include in their listings to help appraisers is specific information about the financing used by buyers.

Most of the time there is information about the type of financing, such as Conventional, FHA, VA, USDA, Cash, etc., and the actual closing cost amount. If there are ever unique situations that occur such as the seller throwing in a tractor with the sale to help mow the 20 acres having this information helps us to understand why the home may have sold for a little more.

I ran into the above situation and that is why I mention it. I have also heard of sellers including a boat with a lake house. These types of things are typically not freebies and they do affect the final sale price.

With this information, the appraiser can determine what adjustment they need to make since most sales do not have these types of personal property included. Something else that happens frequently is including furniture in the sale of a condominium. Appraisers are not allowed to include furniture or other personal property, in the value of real estate because it can be removed and would potentially impact the value of the collateral the bank holds.

Conclusion

In case you couldn’t tell by my post, appraisers rely heavily on the information provided in MLS listings. From detailed descriptions in the listing to all of the photos, the information is used to analyze and develop adjustments for use in appraisal reports.

The items I have mentioned are ones I believe would provide even more valuable information that could be used by appraisers to develop more accurate appraisal reports. If you are an appraiser can you think of any other information that would be helpful? If you are an agent do you have any questions about what other type of information would be helpful to include in your MLS listings? If so, leave a comment below and as always thanks for reading.

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