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Before you list your property, you'll want to know as much as you can about your home's value. There are two related but distinct processes that help people pin down the valuation of a property before they move forward: comparative market analysis and home appraisal.  Both will be performed at different steps in the sale process. Knowing the difference between the two can save you some valuable time.

Comparative Market Analysis (CMA)

comparative market analysis (CMA) is performed by a licensed real estate agent before a property is listed to determine the approximate value. Thanks to the multiple listing service (MLS), your Jones Group Realtor (local expert) can compare your home to others that have sold in your area.  Selling prices, LOCATION, time on market, home improvements, condition, and square footage along with many other factors will be used to determine a value or approximate listing price.  Upon review of the CMA with your agent, you both will discuss your expectations, goals, and timeline. Additionally, with advice from your agent you'll want to determine how best to prepare your home for sale to get the best result.

Home Appraisal

The home appraisal is paid for by potential home buyers — either out of pocket or as part of the fees they will ultimately finance in their mortgage.

An appraisal of the home is performed after the buyer applies for a loan with a bank or other lender. Once the buyer submits an offer and requests financing, a licensed appraiser is dispatched by the lender.

All practicing home appraisers must be licensed or certified by the state. Although they visit a property at the request of the bank, appraisers are intended to report neutral observations about each home. The comprehensive report they compile helps to determine the home's fair market value.   This protects the bank from lending too much money for any given home.

Though an appraisal will include some basic information on the home's condition, more time is spent on recent information about similar listings and housing market conditions in the neighborhood.

Minor repairs and renovations performed before an appraisal can help raise the home's assessed value.

CMA Versus Home Appraisal: Final Considerations

Both a comparative market analysis and home appraisal provide valuable insights that help you and your real estate agent move toward a successful sale. Assuming a property spends only a moderate amount of time on the market, each usually needs to be completed only once.

Sometimes, however, a lender might request a new appraisal even if the previous appraisal was only a short time ago. If the CMA was prepared several months prior to listing, you'll want to take a final look at recent comps/or get another CMA before you make a final decision on a listing price on your home/property. Each situation is different.

An experienced real estate agent can help you by ensuring you're equipped with an accurate CMA. Plus, when the time comes to prepare for an appraisal, they can guide you on the most important steps to raise your home's value in your budget and timeline.

As with anything in real estate, the sooner you start the process of selling your home, the smoother the process.



For more than a year, would-be homebuyers have needed to be more creative than ever to make their offers more attractive to sellers. The market dynamic is changing with interest rates going up, but buyers still need to look for every possible advantage.

The stock of available homes out there is still far lower than their demand, especially in the Pioneer Valley. With that in mind, you may find yourself making an offer on a home that already has qualified buyers bidding on it. This can be troublesome, but a backup offer will help you move toward your goal.

You've found the perfect property; however, the seller has accepted an offer. That would seem to be an open and shut case, and in some situations, it is. But in others, a backup offer can help you stay in the game.

As you make a backup offer, you acknowledge that another offer has already been made and accepted. However, you can have your offer considered first if anything happens to cancel the offer ahead of you.

When Is a Backup Offer Helpful?

Backup offers are usually not very helpful when your competitors are "cash in hand" buyers, such as real estate investors. But a backup offer can come through and make a difference in various other situations. They are especially useful in cases where the other buyer pulls out for their own reasons.

A backup offer takes the form of a formal written contract that should be overseen by your real estate agent. It is vital to protect your interests by designing your offer so you can withdraw without penalty if needed — for example if a home inspection turns up issues.

What Happens If the Original Offer Goes Through?

If the original offer on the property goes through, you'll get back any earnest money you placed into escrow as a potential buyer. You are released from any other obligations and can continue your home search as normal.

Can a Backup Offer Result in a Better Price?

In today's competitive market, a backup offer needs to be strong and offer incentive for the seller.  In a slower market, it may be possible to save a few thousand dollars by making a backup offer below the asking price. This can also be appropriate if the home has been on the market for a long time and seems difficult to sell.

In most cases, a backup offer delivers very little risk and high potential rewards. Work with your real estate agent to develop a backup offer that meets your needs. It may just win the day, even if you weren't first in line to buy the home.

If you would like to begin your home search journey - feel free to reach out to our experienced Team of experts here at Jones Group Realtors. 


Located in one of the Pioneer Valley's most distinctive neighborhoods, this timeless reproduction Post and Beam home is in a category of its own. The attention to detail, care, and warmth is evident with "12 over 12" custom milled windows, a uniquely crafted mantel in the living room, hardwood floors of both cherry and oak, and a beautiful, bright and enjoyable year-round sunroom complete with a propane stove to keep you toasty on cool weather nights. There is a possible in-law space on the lower level, and a wine room.  The exterior boasts a roof with 5/8-inch sawn shakes, new clapboard, copper flashing and mahogany trim. A new large koi pond with waterfalls, lighting, and aquatic plantings, abundant gardens, patios and decks, as well as a charming stone-walled entrance provides a park-like setting. The surrounding communities offer five colleges, three private schools, and a highly rated public school system nearby. You must experience this fine property with meticulous detail and beauty with memories waiting to be made.  

Leverett is located in beautiful Western Massachusets three hours North of New York City and two hours west of Boston.  The Amtrak Vermonter services nearby Northampton with service from St. Albans, Vermont through Washington, D.C.  Bradley International Airport is approximately 45 minutes South. 

View the Matterport 3-D Walk-Through Tour.

Listed by the Stiles Dunn Team.

Karen Stiles Dunn 413-336-4440; Luke Dunn 413-800-1155 


Listing your home in a seller's market?  Now is truly the time to sell! Inventory is at historical lows, and there are many buyers who would love to call the Valley Home.  This puts some sellers in a position to be fortunate enough to receive multiple offers. This is an ideal scenario for sellers for many obvious reasons. It could put you in a position to sell for more than your asking price, and it also gives you the flexibility to be selective.

However, when selecting an offer, the highest price might not be the best offer. In fact, offers consist of many different terms, and some may be more favorable to your particular situation. When evaluating multiple offers, be sure to consider the following factors with your Jones Group REALTOR®:

A buyer who is putting down all cash or a large down payment could present less risk than a buyer who is financing a mortgage. Regardless of what the buyer offers, they still will need to secure financing to close on the transaction. You and your Jones REALTOR® should carefully review a buyer's pre-approval letter before accepting the offer.

Earnest Money
Buyers put down an earnest deposit with their offer to show they're serious about purchasing the property. The earnest deposit varies - earnest money protects you in the event the buyer decides to walk away for reasons not covered in the contract.

Inspection Contingencies 
Inspection contingencies are usually a standard part of an offer. A home inspection is the most common contingency, but buyers may include others like radon testing, mold inspection, or sewer inspections. These contingencies give buyers the opportunity to back out or renegotiate based on the results of these inspections. If you have an offer from a buyer who is willing to waive the inspection contingency, it could lead to a quicker home sale. While we at Jones Group REALTORS® never encourage buyers to waive inspections, we are seeing more people do so to make their offer more attractive. Additionally, we are seeing some buyers have an inspection for informational purposes in that they will not renegotiate the price should any issues be discovered by their home inspector.

Appraisal Contingencies
Many buyers include an appraisal contingency which allows them to back out or renegotiate if the home appraises for less than the asking price. Lenders typically won't finance more than the appraised value of the property. If the buyer is willing to waive the appraisal contingency, he or she is willing to pay the difference out of pocket.

Receiving multiple offers is a great situation, but it can add some additional complexities to your sale. At the end of the day, it's up to you to choose the right offer. Your Jones Group REALTOR® will educate you about the pros and cons associated with each one.

If you are interested in learning more about the value of your property in our market and the process of selling, whether it's this year or next, connect with the experience of a Jones Group REALTOR today. 



The holiday season is upon us and in the spirit of giving our Jones Group Northampton Team participated in the Hot Chocolate Run benefiting Safe Passage. Safe Passage provides emergency shelter in a confidential location for those in need, as well as counseling, advocacy, peer support, and legal services.  You may make donations at

Our Jones Group Amherst Team is please to join the Amherst Survival Center's Warm Winter Items for Kids Drive.  Donations of new hats, gloves/mittens and scarves for children up to age 17 may be made at the 200 Triangle Street location in Amherst through January. 


Our Northampton office MOVED to 351 Pleasant Street, Suite A, in the heart of Northampton with convenient parking. Stop by and see us at our new HOME.

As the largest independent and family-owned real estate agency in the region with 50+ professional REALTORS®, the philosophy of providing exceptional service has gained the company a loyal following and a fine reputation in the community for over 60 years. Today, more than ever, Jones Group REALTORS® strives to provide the finest in real estate services available by offering a comprehensive marketing approach to the sale of property and quality representation in the purchase of property.

Meet our Northampton Team!


By Henry Higgins

On behalf of Jones Group REALTORS®, we hope that your family and friends are in good health and spirits given our current circumstances.  Throughout this time, Jones Group agents have been working diligently to assist clients with all of their real estate needs.  As with many areas of our lives, Covid-19 has caused various changes and trends to emerge.  One that many people have noticed, and is in fact true, is the exodus from large cities to suburban or even rural areas.  The New York Times wrote a piece mentioning that "Closed sales in New York City was down 54% compared to the same period last year, and median prices fell 17.7%."  According to the Greater Boston Association of Realtors, the average selling price of a condominium dropped 7% this year in the city of Boston.

On the other side of the equation, the average asking price of a home in Hampshire County has increased to $349,000, up from the 2019 average $322,000. In Amherst, prices have increased over the same time period from $409,000 to $449,000.  In Northampton, there was a similar increase, with average prices rising from $407,000 to $418,000. The decrease in city prices and subsequent increase in suburban prices such as Amherst tell a story.  Prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic, people are gradually leaving the cities and looking to buy homes in more suburban areas, such as our own here in Western Massachusetts. If you already live here, it is no surprise that folks who live in cities want to move here.  We have excellent schools, culture, and the turning of the leaves remind us that we inhabit a bucolic corner of the world.  We also have luxuries that many city-dwellers long for: space, peace and quiet, and a sense of community that may be difficult to find elsewhere. Additionally, we're fortunate to live near an abundance of hiking and biking trails along farmland and pristine conservation land. It is unlikely you will sit in traffic here, unless you find yourself stuck behind a tractor.  Though this time period has been markedly uncertain, one thing that we hope will come of it is families finding a home in our neck of the woods where they can plant their roots and live in a place they come to know and love. 

If you are interested in relocating to Western Massachusetts, please contact our Relocation Department at 413-549-3700. We're in partnership with Leading Real Estate Companies of the World - Member companies are recognized for their expertise, and superior knowledge of their local markets. At the Jones Group we have a continued commitment to quality customer experience and we are looking forward to partnering with you soon. We welcome new neighbors!


By Henry Higgins

Despite the incredible changes the world has seen over the past several months, the real estate industry has been proceeding normally, with slight adjustments to our protocol.  New guidelines have been put in place in regards to our operations, such as increased measures to protect the health of clients as well as our agents. For open houses, we have been offering virtual tours in the form of video walk-throughs.  Other measures include wearing gloves and masks if inside a property, as well as disinfecting when leaving.  We have also been adhering to social distancing measures, maintaining the six-foot policy issued by the CDC, as well as limiting the number of buyers that may tour the home.  The Covid-19 pandemic was in some ways a catalyst for a technological shift within the industry that was likely to have happened over a few years had the pandemic not occurred. The industry has shifted rapidly to adopt essentially virtual transactions, utilizing tools such as 360 virtual tours, Matterport and video slideshows. Our agent, Luke Dunn of the Stiles Dunn Team, offers Matterport and drone services through his company Valley Views Productions. Jones Group REALTORS® has consistently been a leader in adopting and integrating new technologies, and during these times we continue to seek out the best services and tools for our sellers and buyers.  

As a result of Covid-19 we are seeing fewer houses on the market, however many buyers are pre-qualified and ready to move.  The market trend has been that homes are slow to come on the market and supply is down from  normal standards. There is high demand and it is expected that eventually inventory will rise to meet that demand.  If priced well, homes are selling rather quickly with multiple offers.  Additionally, we are seeing buyers coming from metropolitan areas that are now looking to settle in a more rural area, such as our beautiful Pioneer Valley.  Our Northampton agent, Miriam Sirota, has 20+ years of experience as a top New York City REALTOR®. Our Jones Team is in partnership with Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, an outstanding Relocation company.

Often buyers are looking for turn-key properties, underscoring the importance of updating and maintaining your property.  Staying at Home these past few months has emphasized the importance of having a comfortable living situation with many family members vying for space and privacy. This will increase the number of people looking for "move-up" houses, as folks may be looking for more space to house in-laws, students who are now learning remotely, or folks who are now working from home and need more office space. As we have figured out over the past few months in the Pioneer Valley, space is a scarce commodity, and it is only becoming more valuable. Here the Hamel Team are helping sellers get their Home ready to market using Covid safety protocols.

Despite the challenges that 2020 has brought us, at the Jones Group our agents are still using their experience and expertise to meet their clients' needs.