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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.



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. 



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.  




By Henry Higgins

Planning to sell your home? Spring is just around the corner and that means getting your home prepared to sell in a hot market.  Having your home in its peak condition is necessary if you want to realize the maximum value.   Here at Jones Group Realtors, we can help you determine where you should begin, plus we can refer any number of top professionals to help you with needed tasks.  With perseverance, your home will be ready to sell.



  • The easiest thing to do is to declutter your home, especially kitchen and bath counters, plus closets.  We can recommend staging companies who may help maximize your home's space, and we also know of many professionals who help with cleanout of properties who may place your items for consignment, resale, repurpose or recycle.  
  • The inside of your home should be warm and inviting to potential buyers. One of the best things you can do for your home is to add a fresh coat of paint in rooms that may need it, preferably in light neutral colors. These colors will make your home feel fresh and clean, while appealing to a wide range of buyers. To brighten up the space, consider replacing all of your light bulbs with matching warm LED bulbs.
  • Clean, clean, clean is a mantra within the industry and a theme that I will often touch on in this blog.  Speaking of cleanliness, it's a good idea to shampoo your carpeting, or perhaps even replace it if necessary.  Though the memories of playing outside with your kids and dogs may be ingrained in the carpet (literally) potential buyers will not approach it with the same sentimental value.  Aside from the carpets, it is also important to take care of any hardwood or linoleum floors as well.  For hardwood, it is recommended to refinish if necessary or perhaps a good buffing will do.  For linoleum, a thorough cleaning should do the trick. In both cases, if the floors are in dire straits, it is recommended to replace them.  Here are some current flooring trends from 
  • Make sure to give your windows a good scrubbing. We are happy to recommend some professionals who will clean all of your windows inside and out.  You will be amazed at the difference in the light in your home.
  • In the areas that get a lot of water traffic in such as the bathroom and kitchen, it's important that you scan the area carefully and remove any rust or mildew. These areas also may happen to have loose caulking or grout from years of use, so make sure attention is paid to those areas.
  • In the basement, be sure to clean your hot water heater and drain the sediment that may have collected. If necessary, change the furnace filter as well.  It's not unwise to go ahead and have your furnace serviced before you put your home on the market. 
  • Most importantly, make sure that any lingering odors are dealt with, including pet odors.  Buyers may judge with their nose as much as they do with their eyes. 


Now that the inside is sparkling, let's discuss what you can do to make the outside of your home wow buyers and increase its curb appeal.

  • With snow on the ground, it's important to make sure your driveway and walkways are thoroughly plowed and salted.  Make sure your entry is inviting and tidy.  There should be a convenient place for buyers to place their boots and shoes upon entering the home.
  • Once the grass has returned, you'll want to clean up the yard, mow the lawn and trim and shape the shrubs.  Next, get into the details of your landscape by edging the walkways and gardens, and add fresh mulch.  Make sure all the weeds are pulled before you mulch! If your garden or lawn has bare spots, consider adding plantings. Not only is it a great way to cover the bare spot, it will add color and life as well. If your walkways or stone walls have accumulated moss, they can be cleaned with a pressure washer (this job is actually fun.)
  • Make certain that the exterior of your home, such as trim, gutters, and eaves are all cleaned and/or touched up prior to listing the home.  Power washing a home can make it appear shiny and new.  These are some of the first things a buyer notices when they arrive at the property. 

Here at Jones Group Realtors, we're here to help you relieve the stress of selling and make for a smooth transition. You can check out all of our happy client reviews – we always give 110% with a smile. 



We are delighted to welcome Sue Bernier to our Amherst Team! Sue has lived in Amherst for thirty years at which time she built her first and only home. You may recognize Sue as she owned a small college clothing store on Pleasant Street, and more recently owned and operated the home goods store in town called B Home. Sue has worked for the past ten years selling flooring and tile, and has helped many prospective homeowners and sellers with their flooring needs. She has three children in the Amherst school system.

Email Sue at

Cell - 413-896-1164

200 Triangle Street

Amherst, MA 01002


Housing inventory in the Pioneer Valley remains low as winter-like weather continues through March. We are seeing some properties in certain price points and attributes sparking bidding wars. If Homes are move-in ready, in a great location and priced between $250,000 - $450,000, we're seeing lots of activity and multiple offers in some cases.  Buyers are frustrated by their choices of available homes in hot locations. Check out these tips on how to position yourself for an accepted offer on your new home.

  9 Tips on How to Win a Bidding War

  1. Know your area. Learn the values and the recent sales in the area in which you want to live. Connect early in the process with your Jones agent so that you will have all of the current market information. Then you will know what is  an appropriate offer.
  2. When it comes to price, be realistic. Low offers in this market will not be productive and may waste valuable time.
  3. Pick your "walk away" number, and stick with it. It may be best to offer your top price first in a hot market.
  4. Be flexible on offer terms. Have your agent learn what the sellers are looking for in terms of closing date, and other considerations. If you are able, accomodate them.
  5. Don't dawdle-if you love the house, act fast. Chances are someone else loves it too.
  6. Get preapproved by a bank, otherwise your offer will not be seriously considered (this should be your 1st step.)
  7. Decide what you want to do if the appraisal is below asking price. Some buyers are willing to pay the difference in cash to get the house of their dreams.
  8. Position yourself as a backup in case another buyer pulls out.
  9. Connect with sellers. Write a personal letter to the sellers telling them why you would like to buy their house. Your agent can present it with the offer.

While going through a multiple bidding process can be challenging, our Jones Team in Amherst, Belchertown and Northampton has the experience to help you realize your dream of home ownership. Contact a Jones agent/advisor today to put the leading real estate company to work for you!




This custom built Colonial, lovingly maintained by the original owner is set on a beautiful corner lot in a desirable South Amherst neighborhood representing a fantastic value with over 2,600 square feet.  Upstairs you will find three bedrooms and a full bath plus another bedroom which is a private master suite with a full bath.  Downstairs boasts an entry foyer with wainscoting and slate flooring, living room with fireplace, formal dining room with Pella bay window and oak flooring.  You will enjoy the lovely 4-season sunroom with ceramic tile behind French doors, a welcoming custom kitchen with ceramic tile that opens to a cozy family room outfitted with a fireplace, wide-board pine floors, a Pella bay window and a tiled half bath. Custom features include pocket doors, custom closet storage, forced air heat that purifies the air and controls humidity plus central air-conditioning. The oversized 2-car garage is attached via a handsome covered walkway with a wide staircase leading to storage. The yard is partially fenced-in for pets and play featuring many flowering and mature plantings around the brick patio. This Home is an entertainer's dream inside and out! Click this link for more information on 4 Barry Circle, Amherst, MA 01002 listed by Brad Spry.