How to Verify the Home You Want to List

5 Steps Appraisers use in a Sales Comparison

(How to Calculate the List Price of a Home)


This is part 1a of 6 – How to Verify the home You Want to List

Adam Wiener Aladdin Appraisal

(Please note:  I realized the importance of adding step 1a after writing the first blog in the series. Verifying exactly what we are valuing is the primary step and belongs right here in the sequence, so let’s take a look at how to do that now. – Adam)

Q- Who should be interested in this blog series?

A- This information might benefit anyone interested in home values but I am writing it for you the real estate agent located in Eastern MA with  access, with two specific needs in mind;

  • a real estate agent doing a CMA to get a potential home value for a listing appointment;
  • a real estate agent with a pending sale who is meeting the real estate appraiser.

Q- Why?

A- In both cases being knowledgeable and learning to apply the techniques will give you certain advantages that can help you to be more successful and effective at serving your clients.


This 6 part blog series is as follows:


1)      The Introduction Appraisal Techniques for Real estate Brokers

a)  Verify your Subject property


2)      Step 1- Selecting Comparables. Finding an initial value range.  How to select truly comparable properties (comps).  MLS filtering and research tips, tricks and techniques.  The importance of bracketing.  Letting go of price per square foot, why this is a truly misleading indicator (don’t tell your competition).


3)      Step 2- Data Verification.  GIGO Time saving research methods and shortcut.  free verification websites.  Reading and understanding the clues in assessor field cards.   What to do after discovering a sale is a non-comp because it failed verification (spoiler alert- toss it).


4)      Step 3- Sales Comparisons.  Not all differences are valued in your market.  Know which key characteristics impact value.  Understanding cost vs. market value of improvements.  How to explain this to your clients.


5)      Step 4- Comparable Adjustments. A brief overview of the methods; matched pairs, sequential percentage adjustment, lump sum dollar adjustments, regression analysis, depreciated cost of new.


6)      Step 5- Reconciliation of Comps into one value or a value range.  Never simply average the comps; learn how to do a weighted average.


Q- What is the house we are going to value for our hypothetical listing?


Campanelli Slab Ranch Home

A-In this series we will value a hypothetical Campanelli slab ranch home in North Framingham.  Why? a ranch is a simple home making explanation of the process less complicated.  Framingham had 94 slab ranch home sales in the past year. This is an adequate supply of data to work with.  Don’t worry if you have a different type of home, the steps work when you are valuing any home.


Assessors Field CardBefore I visit a house I always obtain the assessor’s field card and read it carefully.  This is where I begin to figure out what exactly I am valuing.  Here is an actual field card I am using as our fictitious home.  If your town does not have online cards you have to go to city hall to obtain one.  The format and information vary from town to town.

Tip: do not believe field card data, in my experience they are often inaccurate.  If you estimate a home’s the value based on inaccurate data you will not arrive at a reliable value conclusion.  That is why I personally view and physically measure each home I appraise.

Here is the #1 Mistake I see in MLS Listings. How can you value anything before you know what it is?  The most important things you should always do is to measure, or have some else measure, every single house for your CMA.   I use the ANSI Z-765 Square Foot Measuring Standard.  It is the gold standard plus the future appraiser will use it when they appraise for your sale.

I understand there are different financial and comfort levels and skills.   You could pay someone to measure and not get the listing.  If I were doing a CMA I’d have the assessor’s sketch in hand and would at least check the footprint to make sure it is correct.  How many of your competitors do that?

Our field card provided us with a few important clues.

Clue #1: The home was inspected and measured 5 months ago.  What that means to me is key information on the card regarding the living area, bed-bath count, condition and quality are more likely to be correct.  I expect not to be surprised by what I find when I arrive.

Clue #2 is that the home has a condition rating of “A” and a grade (or quality) rating of “F”.   I read that as good condition and below average quality, but quality typical for the neighborhood.  Keep in mind all the slab homes in this area are all of similar lower quality.  After all, these homes were built by for about $12,000 dollars.

Clue #3 is inaccurate information in this field card.  I am familiar with the actual house on this field card.  Error #1 is that there is actually no garage.  This is evident in the field card photo but if there was no photo I would check street view at google maps.  The “312sf garage” was converted to a finished, insulated storage room in 1998.  Error #2 is the garage footprint is deeper.  It actually extends at the rear of the former garage housing the mechanical room and oil tank.  This is not shown on the sketch so the footprint is wrong.   I would point these things out in a sales presentation adds to credibility as an expert, and it is doubtful that competing brokers will have done so.

To highlight- There is data on the field card for this house which is is wrong even though it was recently inspected and re-assessed.  This proves my earlier point,  not to believe field card data.  I do believe the 1,415 sf of living area is correct, but there are only 6 rooms inside the house not 7 rooms, and there are 3 bedrooms and 1.1 baths.


Floor planThe fastest way to sketch is to pre-draw the house footprint (from the field card) on the back of my worksheet before I go to the home.   I draw freehand using a pencil but used graph paper for this blog.  I recommend graph paper when you are new.  Upon arrival I measure the house and circle the correct dimensions correcting the bad dimensions, and then recalculate the actual gross living area.  I fill in interior rooms and label them as you see here.  Later I use software to make a professional sketch and calculation sheet.

Here is a tip, ask your potential clients to dig up a copy of their last appraisal and look at the sketch.   Most people had an appraisal to purchase or refinance, most appraisals include a sketch.  if they agree and provide it this accomplishes four important things for you.

  • First, their cooperation is a positive buying sign.
  • Second, if no one else asked for this they see that you think and act differently.
  • Third, if the appraisal was relatively recent you see a value which you know they have in their minds as a reference for their home’s current value.
  • Fourth , the sketch may help you expedite drawing your own sketch 

Last tip, look at the deed for the last sale in order to verify the lot size.  It is sometimes possible to see the surveyors plans if you spend the time to learn how to research the online registry.


At this point we have defined our subject property.  It is a typical quality, 1960 slab ranch in good condition on a 20,000sf lot with a patio.  It has a 6 room, 3 bedroom, 1.1 bathroom layout, and the ½ bath is en-suite.  There is a finished storage/laundry room with a mechanical room at the rear and it has Central Air.

To be continued, thank you for reading.


PS. I am seeking requests for possible blog topics, and if you have any real estate or appraisal related problem or question email me at

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