The Signs Are All Around Us

The signs are all around us…on houses, on websites and social media.  The Philadelphia real estate market has shifted. This market surprised a lot of Agents and Sellers (and Appraisers).  The economy, rates and seasonality are all taking a toll.  Markets in the Philly Metro region are in one of three phases:

  1. The market is still showing signs of appreciation but, nothing like it was a year ago. It’s the last glowing embers of a hot market.
  2. The glow is gone. Things are cooling and are cooling fast. Homes are sitting longer. The showing lines are much shorter. Sales concessions and inspections are back in fashion. Sellers have lost their advantage and Buyers are in control.
  3. Yes, believe it or it or not, there are areas in our market that are in decline.  Not falling-off-a-cliff decline but, more like a slow-roll-down-a-hill decline. Sellers priced too high are getting lower offers or are being ignored. There are fewer buyers. Inventory is picking up as some Sellers try to catch the last bit of a wave that’s already passed. List prices are being “corrected” to align with the current reality.

What can you do as an Agent during this market shift?

  • Be aware of the shift and adjust your sellers’ expectations, accordingly
  • Look at listings. They are the best indicators of the current market sentiment and show you how the competition is reacting.
  • Learn to spot the declines, dig-down to understand your market.
  • Prepare to see declines reported in appraisals going forward.

Learn to drill down on your market. There are actually some great analytical tools available on Bright.  For instance, The Market Watch is a simple chart that you can set up to track the market as a whole or specific areas.

As of today, over the past 7 days, in the Philadelphia 5-county area, there were 1,046 Price Decreases, 1,082 New Listings, 166 Coming Soon, and 184 Back to Active. If you are a Listing Agent, Seller or have active listings, these numbers are telling you something.

They basically say that there are or will be some 1,432 new or renewed listings competing in the market. Trust me, these homes will be priced competitively for the current market.  The 1,046 Price Decreases should also grab your attention.  These are Sellers saying “we missed the mark with our original pricing and we are committed to pricing it more competitively, now.”

Proper pricing will be more important as we go forward. Buyers in the market will be funded (regardless of the rates), ready to buy and are not going to want to play games with unrealistic Sellers.

Another Bright report you should be looking at is the monthly Market Report.  The most recent September 2022 Market Report has some very interesting data that would indicate that things are entering the “decline” phase.  The report can be found at:

Click on the Philadelphia Metro link and you will find a PDF of the report. There is a great summary of the findings on the first page labeled Philadelphia Market Key Findings:

My take away from these stats is that most of these numbers are heading in the wrong direction. Closed Sales are down, fewer sales.  Median Price is up but, these numbers are for September. It will be interesting to see what the October numbers look like. I have a feeling they will be lower.  Days on Market is growing, homes are taking longer to sell.  New Pending Sales are down, buying is slowing.  New Listings are down, fewer people are selling or have decided to wait-it-out.  Active listings are up, inventory is growing slightly (probably Sellers still trying to catch the wave). Months of Supply is up, more inventory accumulating due to fewer Buyers.

The last stat, Showings, is in my opinion the most telling.  This is a predictive number, measuring the activity of prospective Buyers. This number is way down. That suggest that there are fewer people actively looking at homes. Lack of interest, lack of money, fear of rates and the economy, regardless of the reason, prospective Buyers have pulled back.

Economics 101:  Decreased demand and increased supply equals lower prices.

So, sharpen your pencils and study your market. Get help pricing if you need it. As always, be aware of competing listings and be sure to confirm the GLA of your property.

If you need have any questions or need advice with pricing, measuring or any other appraisal related issue, please feel free to reach out.





Feeling Frustrated!

Yesterday, a home in my neighborhood went up for sale.  I know it well.  When it hit the MLS, the agent cited the Square Footage as being “estimated” at 3,700SF.  Trust me.  On it’s biggest day, this is not 3,700SF.  Overnight, the house apparently shrunk.  Because, as of this morning, the house is now “estimated” to be 3,200SF.

While the SF in the MLS is closer to the actual square footage, it’s still not accurate.  Public Records indicate that this house is 2,577SF with an additional 525SF of below grade, finished basement.  If you look at the Assessor’s sketch on the Montgomery County site, the square footage calculates to 2,545SF.  For the sake of argument, let’s agree that the house is roughly 2,545 – 2,580SF.  These calculations are fairly accurate based on what I know of the house.

All real estate professionals have to be more careful.  We owe it to the public and our colleagues.  Estimating and guessing can be so misleading.  Lumping finished basement space into Above-Grade living space is also misleading.  Think about it.  Will your clients pay the same P/SF for the Rec Room in the basement with the drop ceiling and 1970’s paneling as they would for the Above-Grade space?  Probably not.  Take a look at how these numbers breakdown on a Price/SF basis based on a list price of $750,000.  (I know I preach against P/SF but, it’s an easily comparable metric that everyone seems to understand.)

Big difference, huh?  How would you like to be the person who buys what they think is a 3,200SF home for $750,000 (or $238/SF) only to find out that it’s actually 2,580SF at $238/SF?  That would indicate a value of $614,040.

Agents, as we begin 2020, please make it a habit of measuring your listings or having them measured.  Knowing the true Square Footage of your listings matters.  How you report that Square Footage matters.  Make it a business practice of separating Above-Grade living space from Below-Grade living space.

If you have any questions about measuring homes or what should or shouldn’t be included as living space, please feel free to contact me.

The Coyle Group’s team of Philadelphia appraisers are a leading provider of appraisals for Estate/Probate, Divorce, Bankruptcy, Tax Appeal and Pre-Listing. We also provide property measuring services.  If you need a guest speaker at your next sales meeting, please give us a call. We would welcome to opportunity to speak to your group and field any appraisal related questions you may have. For more information please visit our website at You can also contact The Coyle Group at 215-836-5500 or



Celebrating 10 Years!

On January 1, 2018, The Coyle Group celebrated the beginning of our 10th year in business!  We owe our success to the countless real estate agents, property owners, attorneys, banks, credit unions and mortgage professionals who have come to trust us and rely upon our services.  Every day we strive to serve our clients and provide value.  We appreciate your loyalty and business as we look forward to the next 10 years!

To show our appreciation we are offering 10% Off all Pre-Listing, Estate, Tax Appeal, PMI Removal, Bankruptcy and Divorce appraisals ordered throughout the month of February 2018!  Just mention this post or coupon code:  10FOR10

Eligible properties are non-complex Single Family Dwellings located in Philadelphia, Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware & Chester Counties.  The appraisal must be paid for by Check, Cash or PayPal at or prior to the time of appointment.

Thank you!

TCG Logo

The Coyle Group’s team of Philadelphia Real Estate Appraisers are a leading provider of appraisals for Estate/Probate, Divorce, Bankruptcy, Tax Appeal and Pre-Listing. We also provide “footprint” sketches for determining a more accurate square footage of a property.  If you need a guest speaker at your next sales meeting, please give us a call. We would welcome to opportunity to speak to your group and field any appraisal related questions you may have. For more information please visit our website at You can also contact The Coyle Group at 215-836-5500 or


Do Comps need to be within a Mile?

the-coyle-group-one-mile-philadelphia-appraiserThis post is basically a follow-up to my last post, The 6 Month Rule.  If you recall, I discussed how far back in time appraisers can go when selecting comparables.  In this post I’d like to address a similar misconception brought up in a comment by Portland, OR appraiser, Gary Kristensen.  He suggested that we answer another question that appraisers hear a lot…

Can you only use comparable sales that are within one mile away?

Well, as most appraisal answers begin…that depends.  It depends on the location of the property.  Are we talking urban, suburban or rural?  It depends on the type of property.  Is it a 3 bedroom Twin in Roxboro or a custom-built Mansion in Bryn Mawr?

In urban settings, like Philadelphia, were homes are often very similar and the housing stock is dense and sales are plentiful, it can be easy to find comparables.  In situations like this an appraiser may only need to search a few blocks away to find appropriate comps.  Going a mile for comparables in a place like Philly will likely put you in a completely different neighborhood, zip code and market.  Unless the property is extremely unusual chances are the appraiser will be well within a mile when selecting comps.the-coyle-group-maple-glen-house-philadelphia-appraiser

Suburban settings tend to be less built up with fewer sales.  In cases like this an appraiser may have to go more than a mile for comparables.  Even if they are more than a mile from the subject they may still be located in the same municipality, school district and general market place.  For instance, if I appraised a house in Maple Glen and went over a mile away I could still be in Upper Dublin Township & School District and the 19002 zip code…the same general market.

Appraisers have even more latitude in Rural settings.  While most of my experience has been appraising in the greater Philadelphia region in an urban/suburban market, I know appraisers who do work in Rural markets.  For them it’s not uncommon to go 10 or more miles away or into different counties (and states) in order to identify appropriate comparables.  Think about it, the market for a 500-acre horse farm could easily span across miles, counties and state borders.

The Coyle Group - Exeter - Philadelphia AppraiserNow suppose you have that custom-built Mansion that I mentioned earlier.  There may not be many sales in the immediate area that would be considered comparable.  An appraiser may have to go 4-5 (or more) miles away to find a suitable comparable.  In cases like this it may even be appropriate to go outside Lower Merion Township (Montgomery County) into neighboring Radnor Township (Delaware County) to find comps.

If the appraiser stays within an area that would be considered to be the same real estate market place*, the comparables are likely going to be appropriate.  It’s also very important for the appraiser to explain their rationale for expanding the search for comparables. This is necessary to help the end user of the appraisal understand the appraiser’s reasoning and methodology.

Bottom-line, there is no rule or law that compels an appraiser to select comparable no more than a mile from the subject.  This is a guideline established by underwriters/lenders and has nothing to do with good appraisal practice.

* A real estate market place is where forces of supply and demand operate, and where buyers and sellers interact to trade real estate for money.  Market places have mechanisms or means for (1) determining price of the traded item, (2) communicating the price information, (3) facilitating deals and transactions, and (4) effecting distribution. The market for a particular property is made up of buyers who need a home and have the ability and willingness to pay for it.

The Coyle Group’s team of Philadelphia Real Estate Appraisers are a leading provider of appraisals for Estate/Probate, Divorce, Bankruptcy, Tax Appeal and Pre-Listing. If you need a guest speaker at your next sales meeting, please give us a call. We would welcome to opportunity to speak to your group and field any appraisal related questions you may have. For more information please visit our website at You can also contact The Coyle Group at 215-836-5500 or




Attention Agents - The Coyle Group

Attention all Real Estate Agents!  Do you want to stand out from the crowd and really stay in the minds of your clients and prospects?

Well, you’re in luck…its tax appeal season!  For the next few of months homeowners across the Philadelphia region will have a chance to appeal their tax assessments.  This is a great opportunity for real estate agents to reconnect with current clients, old clients and prospects!  It’s also an opportunity to bring real value and show them that you’re not just any-old real estate agent but, a trusted partner who is looking out for their best interest.

Over the next few weeks, try reaching out to your old clients and prospects suggesting that they might want to consider appealing their taxes.  Show them that you’re looking out for them and want to help them save money.  Imagine how happy your client would be if you were able to help them save hundreds or thousands of dollars off their tax bills each year!

If you have any questions on how the assessment and appeal process works (in Philly, Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware, Chester or Berks Counties) or how to figure out if your clients/prospects would be good candidates for an appeal, please feel free to contact our office.

The Coyle Group’s team of Philadelphia appraisers are a leading provider of appraisals for Estate/Probate, Divorce, Bankruptcy, Tax Appeal and Pre-Listing. If you need a guest speaker at your next sales meeting, please give us a call. We would welcome to opportunity to speak to your group and field any appraisal related questions you may have. For more information please visit our website at You can also contact The Coyle Group at 215-836-5500 or


Spring Cleaning time!

Spring Cleaning Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Dramatic Clouds, Sun Rays and Sky.

It was almost 60 degrees this past weekend and really started feeling like Spring. I know I just probably jinxed us into another blizzard or two in March and April. Regardless, the weather got me in the mood to do some clean-out in our garage.

While moving some things around and tossing others, it got me thinking that now is the time for agents to start doing “Spring Cleaning” with their current inventory. We all know Spring is when the Buyers come out of hibernation and savvy Sellers want to list. Now is the time to revisit those listings that maybe haven’t moved as quickly as once hoped. Perhaps, the sellers have been “stuck” on a price or maybe the original list price was just too aggressive. What ever the case, if your listing has been on the market for longer than the average days on market for your area, it’s time to rethink your pricing.


There are thousands of shiny, new listings on the horizon. These listings are going to compete directly with your older listings. Many of the buyers currently in the market are anxiously waiting to see these new listings, even holding off pulling the trigger until they arrive.  Some of them are the same buyers that may have already seen and passed on your listing. The only way to get their attention again is to make a calculated change to your pricing and marketing strategy.

When looking to make a pricing change consider these points…

Be honest…with yourself and your client. If the pricing of the house was off from the beginning, admit it and start fixing the problem.
Be realistic…sometimes real change hurts. Adjusting the price by a couple hundred dollars just to have the listing show up on the hotsheet probably isn’t going to do it. Real change will involve careful thought and meaningful action.
Be in the market, not just on the market. If your listing is priced higher than the immediate competition, it will be passed over. Look at it this way, why would an informed buyer purchase your listing when they can get a very similar home down the street for less? The answer is “they won’t.”
Be willing to seek help. We all like to be the real estate expert. We all like to think we have our finger on the pulse of the market and our pricing is spot on. Well, this goes back to point one. Be honest with yourself…sometimes we need help or a fresh set of eyes to look at the situation. Be willing to get help from another agent, your broker or a real estate appraiser.
Be willing to walk away. Sometimes cutting ties is best for all involved. Maybe your Seller is unwilling to budge on the price or “has to get” a certain number. This is where you have to make a sound business decision. Are you able to help your client to the best of your ability in a situation like this? If not, it’s probably time to step away and direct your talent, effort and energy elsewhere.

The 2016 Spring Selling Season is poised to be pretty significant. Low inventory, low rates and pent up buyer anticipation are going to add up to a hot market. Hopefully, you and your clients can take full advantage of it with adjustments to the pricing of your older inventory.

If we can be of assistance to anyone considering making some changes please feel free to contact our office. We are always helping agents and their clients with Pre-listing and Market Value Appraisals as well as Home Measuring Services.

The Coyle Group’s team of Philadelphia appraisers are a leading provider of appraisals for Estate/Probate, Divorce, Bankruptcy, Tax Appeal and Pre-Listing. If you need a guest speaker at your next sales meeting, please give us a call. We would welcome to opportunity to speak to your group and field any appraisal related questions you may have. For more information please visit our website at You can also contact The Coyle Group at 215-836-5500 or
* Data obtained from TReND MLS. Average Days on Market measured from February 1, 2015 thru February 22, 2016.


Zillow vs Appraiser Part IV

Zillow vs The Coyle Group, Part IV

It’s been a pretty busy 2015 and I really haven’t had much time to blog. However, this is probably my favorite post to write each year. Since 2011, we’ve had a little contest between Zillow and The Coyle Group (see prior years). We randomly select a number of appraisals recently completed by our office and see how our appraisal values match up against Zillow’s Zestimates. This year we chose 16 properties across Philadelphia, Montgomery County, Bucks County, Delaware County and Chester County. Housing styles ranged from Roxborough rows to Center City condos flats to Main Line mansions.

Below is a chart of the results. The first column shows where the property is located, the second The Coyle Group’s appraised value and the third Zillow’s Zestimate. The last column shows how high or low Zillow was relative to our appraised values.

The Coyle Group - Zillow 2015

Once again, the results are pretty astonishing. Now, Zillow was pretty accurate on the Ambler Golf Community home; and the Merion Station Tudor was right on target. I’ll even concede that the Center City Condo was in range as well.  But when Zillow is off, it tends to be way off! For instance, with the Parkwood Row in Northeast Philly, Zillow understated the value by 34.62%. That’s a big miss considering how “data rich” the Northeast is. Also, it just so happens that this property is currently active for $190,000.  Zillow missed that little fact.  This is where having a human being analyze the market data is so important.

Another interesting example is the Wyndmoor Colonial. This property was over valued by more than 22%.  You see, what Zillow didn’t know was that this property was in original condition.  Original kitchen, baths, fixtures, shag carpeting, wallpaper, etc.  It was like stepping back into the 1960’s.  Again, this is where having a certified appraiser physically inspect the property really matters. Algorithms don’t differentiate between “Brady Bunch chic” and a knocked-out kitchen with granite and high-end stainless appliances.

It just so happened that only four of the sample properties were under stated by Zillow.   Granted, is a very small sample but, on average the Zestimates were under the appraised value by 22.98%. This is important to consider. If you are a homeowner selling your property and relied on a Zestimate to price your home, you could potentially under-price your house and leave some serious money on the table.

The other twelve value samples are all over-stated by an average of 8.83%. As a seller, if you over price your home in a competitive market, buyers will pass you by in favor of more competitively priced homes. Eventually, you’ll probably have to lower your price and run the risk of losing buyers that may have otherwise been very interested in your home.

Philadelphia and the surrounding markets are so nuanced that computers and algorithms can’t accurately take into account all of the individual market factors. For instance, things like specific location can’t be accounted for by Zillow. If your home is next to a garbage dump Zillow will look at it the same as if it were next to a park. As pointed out above, Zillow also has trouble factoring condition and updates into their Zestimates, as well. As of right now, there is no technology that beats having a knowledgeable appraiser to determine an accurate value on a property. Granted, the technology is getting better, quickly but it’s still not as reliable.

Don’t get me wrong, Zillow has it’s place. It’s great for gathering information on neighborhoods and general market trends. It’s comparative tools and graphs are very useful.  Zillow is a good place to start.  However, in the end, Zillow’s Zestimates are not appraisals at all and should not be relied on as such. If you need assistance in pricing a property, I suggest getting some input from a from a good local agent or a certified appraiser and passing on Zillow.
The Coyle Group’s team of Philadelphia appraisers are a leading provider of appraisals for Estate/Probate, Divorce, Bankruptcy, Tax Appeal and Pre-Listing. If you need a guest speaker at your next sales meeting, please give us a call. We would welcome to opportunity to speak to your group and field any appraisal related questions you may have. For more information please visit our website at You can also contact The Coyle Group at 215-836-5500 or


We’re Moving!!!

The Coyle Group is pleased to announce that on October 10, 2014  we will be expanding to a new office.  We will be moving to 433 Germantown Pike, Lafayette Hill, PA 19444.  Only our address will change.  You will find the same great people and service at the new location.  Even our Phone and Fax numbers will be the same.  Join us in celebrating!  We look forward to assisting you our clients and friends at our new location for years to come!  Click below for our Moving Notice and map.


The Coyle Group - Were Moving Sml








2013 Tax Appeal Deadlines are Approaching!

The Coyle Group - Tax Appeal 2013It’s Tax Appeal Season, again.  If you haven’t already started the process, you better get moving! The deadlines are approaching quickly.  If you miss the filing deadline, you miss your opportunity to reduce your assessment for another year.   No excuses, no second chances.   In fact, not filing on time could cost a property owner thousands of dollars in unnecessary taxes.

The deadlines for the counties in the Philadelphia region are as follows:

  • Berks County, August 15, 2013
  • Bucks County, August 1, 2013
  • Chester County, August 1, 2013
  • Delaware County, August 1, 2013
  • Lehigh County, August 1, 2013
  • Montgomery County, August 1, 2013
  • Philadelphia County, October 7, 2013

If you’re not represented and are filing an appeal this year, we strongly recommend filing in person at the county assessor’s office. When delivering your documents be sure to request a receipt from the clerk. This creates a paper trail that shows when you filed and who took receipt of your documents. If you are mailing your documents send them certified mail, so that there is a record of them being received. The counties receive thousands of appeals each year and sometimes things fall through the cracks.

When filing be prepared to pay any necessary filing fees. The fees will vary from county to county. For any fees that pertain to your specific county we recommend visiting the Assessor’s website or calling their office.

You should also note that if the filing deadline falls on a weekend the assessor’s office may move the deadline to the following business day. Again, this is something you should verify with your county’s assessor’s office.

The appeal filing must be completed with appropriate documentation and fees no later than the end of business on the deadline date. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t file days or weeks prior to the deadline.

If you have any questions about tax assessment appeals please contact our office. We will be glad to assist you.  Please feel free to call us at 215.836.5500 or email  For more information please visit our website at .


Zillow vs Appraiser 2013

 Zillow vs TCG

“Zillow told me that my home is worth…”

Appraisers across the USA hear those words at least once a week from well-meaning homeowners.  What many homeowners don’t realize is that Zillow, while a very useful tool, is not always the best indicator of the actual value of their home.  A Zillow Zestimate is not an appraisal.  In fact, if homeowners use Zillow to help them price their home for sale, they could be leaving thousands of dollars on the table, as we will show you.

Below is a chart of 18 randomly selected appraisals that The Coyle Group completed in the past 3 months.  The houses are located throughout Philadelphia, Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware and Chester County.  The chart is a comparison of our appraised value and the Zestimates produced by Zillow.  Keep in mind that our appraisals have the benefit of a full property inspection by a human being and nuanced market knowledge.   Zillow’s Zestimates rely on public records, complex algorithms and no physical inspection of the property.  Here are the results: 

Maple Glen Colonial Appraisal: $430,000 Zillow: $351,050


Conshohocken Single Appraisal: $370,000 Zillow: $329,924


Collegeville Cape Cod Appraisal: $364,000 Zillow: $355,012


Bryn Mawr Mansion Appraisal: $2,000,000 Zillow: $1,662,317


Lafayette Hill Colonial Appraisal: $550,000 Zillow: $470,806


Chestnut Hill Colonial Appraisal: $635,000 Zillow: $686,018


Gladwyne Cape Cod Appraisal: $745,000 Zillow: $697,428


Condo – The Murano Appraisal: $575,000 Zillow: $458,870


Art Museum Condo Appraisal: $280,000 Zillow: $257,852


Condo – The Dorchester Appraisal: $345,000 Zillow: $339,499


South Philly Row Appraisal: $110,000 Zillow: $157,378


Berwyn Colonial 1 Appraisal: $750,000 Zillow: $886,168


Berwyn Colonial 2 Appraisal: $1,200,000 Zillow: $1,153,633


Doylestown Townhouse Appraisal: $325,000 Zillow: $294,410


Fishtown Row Appraisal: $225,000 Zillow: $211,700


Villanova Mansion Appraisal: $2,450,000 Zillow: $2,544,935


Mount Airy Twin Appraisal: $285,000 Zillow: $324,137


Roxborough Row Appraisal: $245,000 Zillow: $235,076


As you can see there are some pretty dramatic deviations between Zestimates and the appraisals.  Based on our appraised values Zillow under valued 13 of the properties.  In some instances Zillow was almost right on, take for instance the condo in The Dorchester.  They were only off by 1.62%…that’s pretty good if you ask me.  For the condo at The Murano, they were off by more than 25%…waaaay off!  On average, Zillow under-valued the properties by 12.39%.

In the case of the South Philly row, the Zestimate was over by more than 30%.  However, I can’t fault Zillow on this one.  The property was really dated and needed a great deal of work.  But this does illustrate how having a full interior inspection of a property can lead to more accurate values.  Also, the Mount Airy twin was over-valued by 12%…but this doesn’t surprise me, everyone in Mount Airy thinks their home is worth more than it is.  Just kidding.

Now imagine that you’re a homeowner getting ready to sell.  You hop on your computer, plug-in your address and Zillow says your home is worth $300,000.  Based on our findings, if Zillow under-values properties 12.39% on average, you (the homeowner) could potentially be leaving $37,170 on the table.  That’s serious money!

This illustration underscores the importance of consulting with a knowledgeable real estate agent or Certified Real Estate Appraiser.  Getting a Pre-Listing Appraisal prior to putting your home up for sale and knowing the true market value of your home can save you time, money and effort when it comes to selling. 

As for Zillow, keep in mind that it is a tool…a starting point.  It’s great for neighborhood data, graphs, general sales information or for seeing what your new neighbors paid for their house.  It’s probably not the best place if you’re looking for assistance with making definitive decision or properly pricing your home for sale.

If you want to know more about our Pre-Listing Appraisal services or have any real estate appraisal related questions please visit  You may contact us directly at…215.836.5500 or