Help with packing, Appraisal vs. CMA


Dear David,

I recently sold my two-storey home and purchased a retirement condo. I’m excited about moving in, but concerned about packing. After 20 years in this house, it’s going to be a big job. My children live out-of-province, so asking them for help is unreasonable. Where should I start? – FEELING ALONE

DEAR FEELING: Staring down the barrel of a big move can feel overwhelming. It’s a physically exhausting task and is likely to be emotionally draining as well, given that you’ve been in the same home for decades. There’s a lot on your plate, but no need to tackle it alone.

I’m happy to recommend specialists we’ve used to help our clients move successfully, even those who have been in their home for fifty years or more. Right-sizing with professional help is a lot like hiring an event planner for moving day: they’ll help you declutter, narrow down what to pack and what to re-home, oversee the transition, and even place furniture or stock the kitchen in your new place. Services like these eliminate a significant amount of stress from the move. They also allow you an opportunity to step back and take a break as needed, without losing momentum.

Pro Tip: A moving professional can often help you to sell the things that might not suit your smaller space, like bulky furniture pieces or a party-sized patio set. The funds they recoup can be put towards the cost of their services – it’s a win-win!

Dear David,

We’re in a townhouse but need more space. We called three different Realtors to get appraisals on our current home and the values varied by $65,000! We really want to get our heads around what we can spend on our next house. – BEWILDERED

DEAR BEWILDERED:  While I often hear the terms used interchangeably, there’s a difference between an “appraisal” (done by a real estate appraiser) and a “Current Market Assessment” or CMA, which is what a Realtor provides. Both offer information about the value of a property based on its features and comparable sales, but one tends to be more formal than the other.

An appraisal involves a detailed process and a fee. It’s often required by banks before they’ll approve a mortgage or confirm the value of a real estate asset. A CMA is a service that most Realtors offer for free and tends to be more subjective. It’s how they establish an appropriate listing price range for the property.

The challenge with either is that home features don’t ring up with set prices. It’s not like scanning cans of soup at the grocery store and reading the total. Different people will likely assign different values to various aspects of your property, which may explain the gap you’re seeing in the CMAs. That said, if there’s nothing unusual about your home, I’d typically expect the assessments to fall within a tighter range.

Pro Tip: I find most homeowners have a pretty good idea of what their house is worth. When reviewing your CMAs, keep in mind that the price a Realtor recommends is just as important as the strategy they’ll use to get there. If their plan is simply to put the house on the market and wait, you may be disappointed. These tend to be the listings that sit on the market forever. #AskDavid #Advice