Homebuyers in Sacramento, California, will have to fork over an extra $40,000 if they want a four-bedroom house instead of settling for three bedrooms. In Allentown, Pennsylvania, that fourth bedroom will cost an extra $45,000 and in Atlanta, Georgia, it will add a whopping $147,000 to the bill.
That’s according to a new tool called Price Perfect unveiled by Realtor.com this week. The algorithm draws from the listing prices of homes currently on the market. After configuring the property they want – is a third bath really worth $70,000? – buyers can view the monthly mortgage payment for a home with those characteristics, along with estimates of property taxes and insurance. Then, they can look at a list of properties for sale that meet their criteria.
Nick Stair, a real estate agent with the Laughton Team in Phoenix, Arizona, said it’s a helpful tool for buyers, but can’t replace the human touch.
“You could have a situation where someone is looking for that fourth bedroom because they need an at-home office, or they need space for visiting in-laws, and a real estate professional who really knows the market might be able to direct them to an alternative solution, like a den that could serve double-duty,” said Stair.
The new tool premiers at the start of the housing market’s spring selling season, the March through June period when more than half of U.S. home sales take place. In February, contracts to purchase previously owned homes fell 4.9% from a year earlier despite lower mortgage rates, according to a March 28 report from the National Association of Realtors.
"Our research shows 'how much can I afford' is one of the biggest pain points for home shoppers," said Brad Sivert, general manager for Realtor.com, the property listings website operated by Move. The new tool “empowers them to find the right home that is both affordable and has the features that are most important to them."
The tool provides the median price for homes in cities across the U.S. For example, in Columbus, Ohio, a house with three bedrooms and two baths has a median price of $268,510. Finding a property in that city with a fourth bedroom would cost an extra $100,940, while removing one bathroom would save $38,610. In Rochester, Minnesota, a house with the same characteristics has a median price of $359,900. Adding a bedroom would cost $32,500 and adding a bathroom would bump the price by $70,000.
The pricing tool is available now on the realtor.com website and soon will be added to the company's iOS and Android app, Move said in a statement. To access Price Perfect from the realtor.com homepage, click on the “Mortgage” link and select “Find My Buying Power.”