Mortgages & Home Loans Real Estate Resources Selling Your Home How To Price Your Home for Sale Factors Contributing to the Correct List Price By Elizabeth Weintraub Elizabeth Weintraub Facebook Twitter Elizabeth Weintraub is a nationally recognized expert in real estate, titles, and escrow. She is a licensed Realtor and broker with more than 40 years of experience in titles and escrow. Her expertise has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, CBS Evening News, and HGTV's House Hunters. learn about our editorial policies Updated on March 7, 2022 Reviewed by Lea D. Uradu Reviewed by Lea D. Uradu Lea Uradu, J.D. is graduate of the University of Maryland School of Law, a Maryland State Registered Tax Preparer, State Certified Notary Public, Certified VITA Tax Preparer, IRS Annual Filing Season Program Participant, Tax Writer, and Founder of L.A.W. Tax Resolution Services. Lea has worked with hundreds of federal individual and expat tax clients. learn about our financial review board Fact checked by Katie Turner Fact checked by Katie Turner Katie Turner is an editor, fact checker, and proofreader. Katie gained experience at McKinsey by fact-checking content about business, finance, and economic trends. At Dotdash, she began as a fact checker for Investopedia, eventually joining both Investopedia and The Balance as a fact checker, ensuring the accuracy of information across a variety of financial topics. learn about our editorial policies In This Article View All In This Article The Pricing Dilemma Pull Comparable Listings Often Overlooked Details Check Out Sold Comps Withdrawn and Expired Listings Pending Sales Active Listings Square-Foot Cost Comparisons Market-Dependent Pricing Help Is Available Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Photo: The Balance / Brianna Gilmartin Pricing your home correctly can be the single most important factor when you're selling your house. You don't want to overprice the property, because you'll lose the freshness of the home's appeal after the first two to three weeks of showings. Demand and interest wane after 21 days or so. Of course, there's nothing stopping you from dropping your price later, but that can be a matter of too-little-too-late. You'll want a comparative market analysis (CMA) so you're as close to value as possible. Key Takeaways Pricing your home too high can be a mistake, but don't worry about pricing your home too low—you'll likely receive multiple offers over the asking price.You can use a comparative market analysis (CMA) and comparable home sales in your area to help you determine market value.Talk to your real estate agent, or check out the Federal Housing Finance Agency's house price calculator if you need more help. The Pricing Dilemma Although pricing too high can be a mistake, don't worry about pricing your home too low. Properties priced below market value will often receive multiple offers that will then drive the price up to market level. Pricing is all about supply and demand. Note No two agents price property the same way. Some agents are much better at figuring out how to price your home than others. Most agents will prepare a CMA for you, but you can also do one yourself. The CMA: Pull Comparable Listings First, look at every similar home that's been listed in the same neighborhood as your property over the last six months. Appraisers don't use comps that are older than three months, so you might want to narrow the time frame even more. Ideally, you'll want to come in close to the eventual appraised value of your home. Note The homes should be limited to those within a 1/2-mile radius of yours unless there are only a handful of comps in the general vicinity or the property is rural. Often Overlooked Details Some finer points are easy to overlook when you're comparing homes: Pay attention to neighborhood dividing lines and physical barriers, such as major streets, freeways, or railroads. Don't compare inventory from the "other side of the tracks." Note Identical homes directly across the street from each other can vary by as much as $100,000 in some neighborhoods. Perceptions of desirability have value. Compare similar square footage within a 10% variance up or down, if possible.Compare similar ages. One neighborhood might consist of homes built in the 1950s, and it might be situated right next to another ring of construction from the 1980s. Values between the two will differ. Make sure you're comparing apples to apples. Honestly assess desirability. You might be able to get away with tacking on a premium if you're fortunate enough to own a dream home that will cause buyers to faint upon entering. Check Out Sold Comps Compare the original list prices of the homes to the final sales prices to determine any price reductions. Compare the final list prices to actual sold prices to determine ratios. Ideally, compare to at least three properties that sold at market value. Most local assessors' offices will provide lists of sales, and some newspapers publish quarterly sales reports in their business and/or real estate sections. Note It's common for homes to sell for more than 100% of list price in a seller's market. Homes generally sell for list price or less in a buyer's market. Adjust final sales prices up or down for lot-size variances, configuration, and amenities or upgrades. Look for Withdrawn and Expired Listings Pull the history of any expired and withdrawn listings to determine whether any of them were taken off the market and relisted. "Expired" means the term of the listing agreement ran out without a sale. "Withdrawn" means the listing agreement is still in effect, but the homeowner no longer wants to market the property. Add these days on the market back to the listing time periods to arrive at an actual number of days the properties were on the market. Look for patterns as to why they didn't sell, and note any common factors they might share. What brokerage had the listing? Was it a company that ordinarily sells everything it lists, or was it a discount brokerage that might not have spent sufficient money on marketing the home? Note Think about the steps you can take to prevent your home from becoming an expired listing, based on this information. Pending Sales The ultimate sales prices of homes that haven't sold yet are unknown until the transactions close. But that doesn't stop you from calling the listing agents and asking them to tell you how much a property is selling for. Some agents will tell you, and some won't. Again, make note of the days on the market. That can have a direct bearing on how long it will take before you see an offer. Examine the histories of these listings to determine price reductions. Active Listings Bear in mind that sellers can ask whatever they want to ask for their homes. It doesn't necessarily mean that they'll actually get that price. Tour these active-listing homes so you can see what buyers will see when they visit. Make note of what you like and dislike about the properties, as well as the general feeling you got when entering the homes. Note Recreate positive feelings of reception in your own home if possible. These properties are your competition. Ask yourself why a buyer would or would not prefer your home over any of these others, then adjust your price accordingly. Square-Foot Cost Comparisons The buyer's lender will order an appraisal after you receive an offer, so you'll want to compare homes with similar square footage to come as close to the eventual appraised value as possible. Appraisers don't like to deviate more 25%, and they prefer to stay within 10% of net-square-footage computations. Comparable homes are those that are 1,800 to 2,200 square feet if your home is 2,000 square feet. Average square-foot cost doesn't mean you can simply multiply your square footage by that number, at least not unless your home is average sized. The price per square foot rises as the size decreases, and it decreases as the size increases. Note Larger homes have smaller square-foot costs, and smaller homes have larger square-foot costs. Market-Dependent Pricing The next step after you've collected all of your data is to analyze it based on market conditions. Suppose that the last three comparable sales in your neighborhood were $250,000. Your sales price might allow some wiggle room for negotiation in a buyer's market, but you'll want to be close enough to the last comparable sale to entice a buyer to tour your home. You might need to price your home at $249,900 and settle for $245,000 to sell in that type of market. Conversely, you might want to add 10% more to the last comparable sale in a seller's market. You can ask more than the last comparable sale, and you'll likely get it if there's little inventory and there are many buyers. That $250,000 home might sell for $265,000 or more. You might want to initially set your price at the last comparable sale in a balanced or neutral market, then adjust it for the market trend. Pricing at $254,500 would make sense if the last sale closed three months ago, but the median price has edged upward of 1% per month since then. Help Is Available Visit the Federal Housing Finance Agency's website if you feel you're in over your head. It offers various tools to help you along, including a House Price Calculator that can help you add in factors for appreciation since the time you purchased the property. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) What happens if your house doesn't appraise for the purchase price? If the appraisal for your home comes in lower than expected, the buyer can try to negotiate a lower sales price. The seller isn't required to reduce the sales price, but the buyer is free to walk away if they aren't happy with the difference between the appraised value and the sales price. The seller could also ask for a second appraisal, but the buyer doesn't need to agree to that. What is the average price of a house? The average price of a house in the U.S. is about $375,000. You can see how average sales prices change every quarter by using this resource from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. The average home price varies significantly by region. The most expensive homes are typically located in the West and Northeast, while the Midwest and South have lower average sales prices. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. National Association of Realtors. "A Buyers' and Sellers' Guide to Multiple Offer Negotiations." Debt.org. "Selling a House." New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. "How To Estimate the Market Value of Your Home." Redfin. "Real Estate Glossary." Rocket Mortgage. "Buyer’s Market Vs. Seller’s Market: Which Is It?" Realtor.com. "Expired Listing vs. Withdrawn Listing: What's the Difference?" Zillow. "Sale Pending: What Does It Mean & Should You Make an Offer?" Rocket Mortgage. "How To Calculate A Home’s Price Per Square Foot." Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. "Median and Average Sales Price of Houses Sold by Region."