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  • Writer's pictureJesse Ledbetter

I talk to my comps...

"Why are you so low?!" "What happened with you?" "What are you hiding?" These are common comments that you might hear from me while I'm performing an appraisal. Every appraisal is also a kind of appraisal of the comparables that are being used. If the adjusted range of 4 comparable sales is $130,000-$140,000, but comparable 5 adjusts to $155,000, there is a high likelihood that that sale sold for between $15,000-25,000 above market value.

Appraisers see this multiple times a day per report. This is one of the primary distinctions of the appraiser in the industry - we live 99% of the time in closed sale data, and we live in a lot of data. Where a great real estate agent may see $10 million dollars in sales in a year, an average appraiser is likely to see nearly 10x's that in volume of appraisals. However, it isn't just sale/refinance that is being analyzed - every report has between 3-6 closed sales that are also being cross referenced.


In 2021 I performed 588 appraisals. As a rule, I include 4 closed sales in nearly every report, and often more than that for complex and jumbo loans (high value). However, if we stick with four sales included in the final report, that means that I analyzed 2,940 properties in 2021 in final report level analysis. However, this is just what made it into the final report. I typically analyze 6-9 sales and then trim that down to 4. Again, this would indicate an analysis at some level of more than 4,116 sales in that year. This doesn't touch market analysis, statistical analysis of contributory value, cost and income approach, and other means of analysis.


Often times when a comparable sticks out like a sore thumb, I'll call the agent with a "Is there anything that the pictures don't show?" question and get the rest of the story. Sometimes the buyer/seller just got a raw deal. My proudest moments are when I analyze a pending sale and call the agent to confirm the contract price and can give them my estimated contract price before they give it to me. During 2020-2021 this got more difficult as prices surged, but typically I've been pretty close, therefore further confirming the analysis I've performed. When that's not the case, its time for me to do more research... and possibly time for that agent to prepare for a complex closing.

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