3 Free Ways to Find Out What Your House is Worth
In today’s hot real estate market, many homeowners are wondering if they should sell their houses. Houses seem to be flying around like hotcakes, and you want in on the action. Maybe you’ve noticed how much homes in your neighborhood have been selling for and you’re feeling the urge to take advantage of rising home values before they fall.
Before you pull the trigger, make sure you’re doing your due diligence. You want your home to sell fast, but you also want to ensure it’s priced competitively. Here are a few ways to find out how much your home is worth.
How Is Home Value Determined?
The value of your home is influenced by many factors, including supply and demand, square footage, number of beds and baths, location, and at the end of the day, how much prospective buyers are willing to pay for it.
There are two values that real estate agents look at when determining home value:
- Fair Market Value – Fair market value is estimated based on comps, or comparative market analyses. In other words, a real estate agent will consider what similar homes in your area are selling for. If your home is especially unique, say it’s on much more land than similarly sized houses in your area, this may affect its value. Don’t let your agent say otherwise to sell a house fast. Look at the comps with your agent to determine which homes they’re comparing yours against.
- Appraised Value – When you bought your home, a licensed appraiser came out to look at the property and determined a value for tax purposes (even if you didn’t see them). Appraisers consider your location, the size of your home, and the home’s condition. If you’ve made renovations, home improvements, or added square footage while you’ve lived there, you may want to hire an appraiser to reevaluate the worth of your home, but that can cost anywhere from $250-$500.
3 Ways to Find Out What Your House is Worth for Free
As a prospective seller, it’s crucial that you stay involved in the process. No matter how much you trust your real estate agent, it’s important that you do your own fact-checking and due diligence. It’s worth the thousands of dollars you stand to lose out on.
1. Ask a real estate agent for a free comp
In fact, ask 3 or 4. As with any profession, there are good agents and bad agents. Most agents are happy to offer a free comparative market analysis (CMA) if they think it could get them your business. Be sure to dig into the comps provided. Cross-check the houses they’ve chosen to compare your house to by going on Zillow or Realtor and searching for the address. Ensure these homes are truly comparable to yours.
The bonus is that if you do decide to sell your house, you can now choose an agent with proven research skills. Plus, you’ll know they won’t try to lowball you just to make a sale.
2. Check your home’s appraised value on your county auditor’s website
As we mentioned above, after you bought your home, your county sent out a licensed appraiser to assess the value of your home for tax purposes. If you bought your home recently and want to capitalize on the sudden rise in home prices, you can see what the county appraiser valued your home at without having to pay for your own licensed appraiser.
If you’ve made renovations since then, stick with your real estate agent to help you determine the worth of your home. After all, county appraisers generally don’t enter the home to assess value.
3. Use the FHFA HPI Calculator
The Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) House Price Index (HPI) calculator uses historical mortgage data to analyze what the price of your home might be worth based on the appreciation of homes in your area. This will give you imputed equity of your home, a figure that will help you understand appreciation and decide if it’s in your best interest to sell at all.
Yes, it’s a broad stroke, but with access to tens of millions of home sales data, it’s worth a look. It won’t tell you what your specific house is valued at, but it will provide you with insights regarding market activity in your locale.
Home Values Are Always on the Rise
Real estate is among the best investments you can make. It can be tempting to sell when the housing market is hot, but remember that you also need a place to go. You may end up buying a house for more than it’s worth in an effort to sell your current home.
If you’ve run the numbers are have realized it’s not worth it to sell, consider putting funds into improving your home so that when you decide it is finally time to sell, your home is objectively worth more instead of being dependent on uncontrollable market factors.
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