Broker Price Opinion vs. Appraisals: Which One is Right For You

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If you’re thinking about selling or refinancing your property, the first step is to figure out how much it’s worth

Broker Price Opinions (BPO) and Appraisals are two common methods of going about this. Of course, which one makes the most sense depends on your situation. Let’s take a look at the options.

What is a Broker Price Opinion?

A Broker Price Opinion (BPO) is an estimate of a property’s value, completed by a real estate broker. It’s important to note that a BPO is not necessarily the same as the market value of a property. It can, however, provide a close approximation of that value relatively quickly.  

When completing a BPO, brokers will consider factors such as the value of similar properties in the area, the neighborhood’s characteristics, and the location of the property in light of those factors. They will also take into account any costs that would be necessary to get the property ready for sale. In many cases, brokers will be able to assess the property just by driving by, but sometimes they’ll go check out the interior as well for a more detailed look.

BPO’s can be a very useful way to get a bird’s eye view of the value of your property. They’re often cheaper and are much quicker than an appraisal of the property. Additionally, brokers may include a marketing plan as part of a BPO, giving you a look at what the next steps are. Overall, a BPO is a great place to start if you’re thinking about selling or refinancing.

What is an Appraisal?

An appraisal is a more official and comprehensive look at a property. In many cases, mortgage lenders will require an appraisal before making a loan. Appraisals are completed by certified appraisers who have to follow the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP). It’s important to note that appraisers are required by law to be unbiased with no interest in the property, and they must keep a detailed log of their work. 

When appraising a property, appraisers will inspect the interior and exterior of the property and prepare a detailed report. They will look at many of the same factors as a BPO, including the location of the property and nearby/comparable properties, in making their assessment. However, they’ll also look at public records, legal proceedings, current and planned developments, and many other factors. 

As you can probably tell, appraisal reports are often very detailed and authoritative. Of course, that comes at a higher cost in both time and money than a more informal look at the property.

Which One Should I Use?

As always, it depends on your situation and what your goals are. If you’re looking to sell or refinance your property, a BPO is a great place to start. If you’re putting your property on the market, you want someone to give you an idea of how quickly it can sell. A BPO can accomplish all of this faster and more cheaply than a full appraisal.

However, if you’re already in the process of taking out a loan, the lender will likely require an appraisal before moving forward. If you need a more thorough analysis and don’t mind the extra cost, an appraisal might be a good call.

Of course, a real estate agent or broker is a great resource when making a decision. They can look at your situation and help you determine which option is best for you.

Written by Jon Becker

Tips For First Time Homebuyers

First-Time Homeowners - Find Residential Real Estate in Colorado and Missouri with Sunrise Land Company

Homeownership has long been considered a cornerstone of the American dream, and for good reason. Not only does owning a home mean stability and independence, but it can also be a great investment in your future.

Especially in the white-hot housing market of today, the homebuying process can be overwhelming. If you’re looking to buy for the first time, you might not even know where to begin. We’re here to help with some tips to help you get started on your journey to being a homeowner. 

Start Saving as Soon as You Can.

There are quite a few expenses to set money aside for, some of them you might not be familiar with if it’s your first time. Among them:

  • Down payment: The big one. This is the money you’ll need to put down on the purchase of your home. Requirements depend upon the type of mortgage and lender, but a down payment can range anywhere from 3% to 20% of the total cost. Have a look at what homes are going for in your area and use a mortgage calculator to set some goals.
  • Closing costs: These are the fees associated with the final purchase of your home and can add up to 2% to 5% of the total loan. Sometimes the seller might be willing to pay some of these costs, although that may be less common in competitive markets. You may also want to pay for a home inspection before you close to identify any issues with the property.
  • Moving costs: Don’t forget to set aside some money for immediate repairs, upgrades or furnishing needs once you’ve moved in.

Check Your Credit Score

A good credit score will help make sure you get approved for a loan. It can also secure a lower interest rate on your mortgage, potentially saving you thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. 

Some steps you can take to make sure your credit score is in a good place when you’re ready to buy:

  • Avoid opening any new lines of credit in the months leading up to your home purchase. This usually triggers an inquiry, which can negatively impact your score.
  • Pay your bills on time, and try not to carry a credit card balance if possible.
  • Keep your current credit cards open, even if you use them rarely. Having more available credit helps your score.
  • Keep an eye on your credit report and dispute any errors you find that might hurt your score. You can request a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus once a year to find out where you stand.

Check Out First-Time Homebuyer Programs

There are a number of government programs designed to help first-time buyers. They can offer anything from down payment assistance to low interest rates. Some popular federal programs include FHA loans, VA loans, and USDA loans. There are also a number of state and local programs that can offer assistance. A real estate agent or your local housing authority can help you learn which of these programs you might qualify for.

Get Pre-approved

When you’re ready to start seriously shopping for a home, it’s a good idea to get pre-approved for a mortgage. This means asking a lender to look at your financial situation and determine how much they’re willing to loan you and under what terms. Having a pre-approval in hand makes you a more attractive buyer and can give you an edge in a bidding war.

Don’t Let a Hot Market Drive You Crazy

Speaking of a bidding war, it’s not uncommon for there to be multiple buyers interested in the same property these days. If you find yourself in competition with another buyer for the same home, don’t get caught up in the frenzy and overspend just to try and beat them. Think long term and stick to your budget to avoid paying more for a home than you believe it’s worth.

Get a Great Real Estate Agent.

Luckily, you’re on this site – so this step is already partially complete!

Your real estate agent will be your biggest asset in the homebuying process. They can help guide you through the whole thing, from finding the kind of property you’re looking for, scheduling tours, negotiating a fair price, and navigating the often complicated paperwork. Generally speaking, you’ll want to look for an agent with experience helping first-time buyers, great communication skills, and a proven track record. Here at Sunrise Land Company, we love the chance to go the extra mile for first-time buyers.

Buying a home is a huge investment, but it doesn’t have to be a stressful one. With a little preparation and the right team in your corner, you can be well on your way to signing the paperwork, turning the keys, and walking through the door of the American dream

Written by Jon Becker

What Higher Costs Mean for Your Home Valuation

Housing Costs are rising

Losing a home to a disaster is a terrible ordeal for a family to experience – even after the initial tragedy has passed, your family is deprived of the comforts or security your old home and belongings provided. It’s times like these that your homeowner’s policy steps in to help you rebuild and replace your belongings.

But what about when the cost of rebuilding a home skyrockets unexpectedly, as it has over the past year or so? Different homeowner’s policies pay out different amounts (read more in the documents below), but almost all policies have an upper limit. Depending on the last time you revisited your coverages, there is a good chance your limit doesn’t take recent spikes in construction costs into account.

This isn’t something you want to find out in the middle of a tragedy, and it’s important for responsible homeowners to know how their insurance coverage limits compare to real world expenses.

Your first step is to know what it will actually cost if you needed to rebuild your home, from scratch, in today’s economy. This number can be very different from your home’s market value, as the documents below explain.

Nothing can replace the feeling of ‘being home’, but having adequate coverage can give you a solid foundation if you ever need to rebuild.

Fire Prevention Tips

Fires in the Home Can be Devastating

Few things are as destructive and traumatic as a fire in your home. They move fast – many fires only take minutes to engulf a home – and are a serious risk to life and property.

Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to minimize fire risk in your home and the danger to your family. The Red Cross and the National Fire Protection Agency recommend doing fire safety checks a couple times a year, but keep in mind that the Winter months are the most dangerous for house fires, so Autumn is an essential time to go through your home.

Start in Your Kitchen

Fire departments in the US respond to an average of about 190,000 cooking fires a year. Stovetop cooking starts the majority of these fires, but deep fryers and grills record the highest average loss per home structure fire of any home equipment, according to a 2020 report on Home Cooking Fires by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Rule Number One for fire safety in the kitchen: never leave anything you’re cooking unattended. Unsupervised stovetops, ovens, etc. are the leading specific cause of cooking fires year after year, according to FEMA. 

Here are a few more tips from RedCross.org on keeping your home safe.

  • Keep flammable items like curtains, paper towel dispensers or even decorative cloth wall hangings away from the stove burners.
  • Be sure tabletop appliances, like microwaves, griddles, or fryers aren’t used in cluttered areas, and that their vents have plenty of clearance to circulate air.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher rated for kitchen and grease fires within easy reach of your stovetop.
  • DON’T PUT WATER ON A GREASE FIRE! Oil and water don’t mix, so the water can just spread the flaming oil around. Toss a lid on the pan to suffocate the flames.

If you’re the sort of intrepid soul for whom a little fall chill won’t keep you away from the grill, remember to make sure it’s at least 10 feet from any structures and isn’t operating under tree branches or trellises. This post can give you some more tips for grilling safely.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are, no surprise, the biggest two days for cooking fires in the US, so be doubly sure about your fire extinguisher access headed into those holidays. Check expiration dates on disposable extinguishers; get rechargeable ones serviced if needed.

Check your Smoke Detectors

Fires create smoke and toxic gases – which cause more deaths than flames do. Breathing even small amounts of these gases can make you disoriented and drowsy, limiting your ability to escape a house fire. Correctly placed, working smoke detectors can alert you of the presence of these first signs of a house fire and literally be the difference between life and death: according to the National Fire Prevention Association, 3 out of 5 home fire deaths happen in properties without working smoke alarms. 

“Working” is a key word here; a smoke detector can’t help you if it’s not operational. Luckily, making sure they’re in good working order is pretty simple:

  • Smoke detectors should be tested once a month. Many of them have a convenient button to test them quickly.
  • Batteries should be replaced at least once a year.
  • Smoke detectors themselves don’t last forever and should be replaced every 10 years. 

As for placement: smoke detectors should be in every sleeping room in the house, outside each room, and on every level of a home (including the basement). Good coverage of the whole home can alert you to a fire quickly, giving you precious time to react. 

Keep Safe While Keeping Warm

Of all the ways to heat a home, a house fire is certainly the worst (can you say overkill)! All jokes aside, whether you heat your home with a fireplace or space heater, it’s important to make sure you’re doing so safely. 

  • Chimney fires can be extremely dangerous. If you have a fireplace, hire a qualified professional to clean and inspect your chimney and vents once every year. Autumn is ideal, before winter weather and holiday gatherings. 
  • Don’t plug more than one space heater or electric radiator into a wall outlet at a time.
  • Anything flammable should be kept at least 3 feet from space heaters, fireplaces, stoves or radiators. This means furniture, curtains, and especially books or newspapers.
  • Cooled ashes from the fireplace should be stored outside, in a closed metal container, and at least 10 feet from your home and any nearby trees or other buildings. 
  • Never use the kitchen oven to heat your home. 
  • Don’t leave fires in the fireplace, candles burning, or running space heaters unattended when leaving the home or when going to bed. 

Avoid Electrical Fires

More than half of all home electrical fires involve lighting or home wiring, and a sixth are caused by appliances like space heaters. Heat-producing devices like these, when used improperly, can overload circuits and lead to fires. Make sure you’re current on the best ways to avoid these fires with these tips:

  • Check your electrical cords for cracks, exposed wiring, or other damage and replace those that are. Don’t be a hero; it’s often safer to use new cords than to try to fix broken ones yourself.
  • Don’t use extension cords with heating devices like radiators, space heaters, or microwave ovens. 
  • Use light bulbs that match the fixture’s recommended wattage. 
  • Don’t overload extension cords or wall outlets.
  • Leave electrical work to qualified electricians. 

Clothes dryers are literally and figuratively one of the bigger household appliances that can cause electrical fires. In fact, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, they cause almost 3,000 home fires every year. Dryer lint is a highly flammable substance, and the majority of dryer fires can be avoided by frequently cleaning the lint screen and vents. Of course, some of these vents can have lint build up in areas that are difficult to reach, so it’s a good idea to schedule a professional vent cleaning and servicing at least once a year. 

Be Smart About Hazardous Materials

Many household items, like batteries, cans of paint, and that “secret” pack of cigarettes in your dresser drawer, can turn into fire hazards if not used or stored the right way. These tips from the USFA can help you ensure the stuff around the house doesn’t cause flaming surprises:


  • Lithium batteries, like the ones in your phone, should be kept in a cool, dry place and only used in the sort of devices they were made for. 
  • Only charge lithium batteries until they’re full – some can catch fire when overcharged. 
  • Replace any battery that gets wet, damaged, or corroded. Used and dead batteries should be disposed of or recycled with tape over their terminals. 
  • Lithium batteries should never be thrown in the trash.

Flammable Household Substances

  • Flammable substances, like oil, paints, propane, gasoline, and varnishes should be kept in a shed outside the home whenever possible. Make sure they’re stored on shelves away from appliances.
  • Keep oily rags away from heat sources and in a well-ventilated area where potentially flammable fumes can’t build up. 
  • Portable gasoline containers should only be filled outside and on a stable surface. 
  • All spills should be cleaned as soon as possible and the containers involved moved to a well-ventilated area. If a spill of a flammable substance gets out of control or you’re unsure about how to clean it up, call the local fire department for help. 
  • Never store any flammable household chemicals in the sun or near a heat source.
  • Be careful when disposing of aerosols. Some cans may contain chemicals that can explode or combust in the trash. When in doubt, check the instructions on the product label or reach out to your local fire department.

Cigarettes and e-Cigarettes

  • Smoke outside whenever possible. A hot cigarette or ashes can catch many items in the home on fire.
  • Make sure your cigarettes are put out all the way when you’re done, and never walk away from lit cigarettes or smoking ashes. It’s a good idea to add water to ashes and butts before disposing of them to take care of any hidden hot spots.
  • Don’t smoke near medical oxygen, even if the tank’s shut off. Oxygen is a fire’s favorite food and can explode when it comes into contact with a spark or a flame. 
  • Don’t smoke in bed, as mattresses and bedding often catch fire easily.
  • The tips for handling lithium batteries apply to e-cigarettes: don’t overcharge e-cigarettes or use a charger not designed for them, keep them away from conducting metal objects, and avoid extreme temperatures. 

These steps are by no means exhaustive, but they can go a long way towards reducing the risk that your family will have to go through the tragedy of a home fire. Vigilance is rarely fun — but peace of mind is worth it.

written by Jon Becker