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With the recent local real estate market challenges, do you know how much equity you have in your Maple Valley home right now? And if you have no interest in moving, should you even care? Webster's defines equity as it pertains to real estate as :
"... the difference between the current market value of the property and the amount the owner still owes on the mortgage. Thus, it is the amount, if any, the owner would receive after selling a property and paying off the mortgage"
Even if you have no interest in moving or need to sell there are a few very good reasons why your home's equity value is something you should evaluate every year:
1. Life happens.
Could you sell right now if you had to? If you lost your job or got sick? Information is power! Although the market is continually fluctuating, the big drop has happened and your value today should not fluctuate hugely for several years. If you were to find yourself in a sticky spot you'll know:
Can I sell now or am I upside down in value?
If I sold right now, what would we net from the sale?
If I have to short sale, how short would I be?
2. Mortgage Management
You have to know what you have before you know what you can do with it! Market fluctuations aside, every month we chip away a bit more at our mortgage, depositing more and more equity over time. Once you know what your home is worth in today's market, you can evaluate your mortgage rate and terms...are they still the best option for you and your family's future? . Rates are amazingly low right now.
Should you refi?
Can you refi?
Should you loan mod?
Can you loan mod?
3. It Provides a Good Overview of your Financial Health
Home equity, whether positive or negative, is a major factor in determining our overall net worth. By having this information you can begin to take action towards correcting or enhancing your future financial strategy.
4. It's Easier Than Ever!
When it comes to learning your value (without paying for an appraisal), you have a few options. I'm listing them here in order of most accurate:
You can use an online automated service such a Zillow.com. These systems often give a broad range and have been wildly off (on the low and high side) as they don't take into consideration comparable home conditions and other factors which may influence a home buyer's decision (proximity to power lines, road noise just to name a few).
You can request an online market assessment here which will take into consideration the information you provide, property tax record information along with knowledge of local market trends and statistics to give you a range of value dependent on home's condition.
You can have a real estate professional visit the property for an interior viewing and then based on that give you Comparative Market Analysis of your property. This is the most accurate way to determine value however many owners would prefer to go the online direction initially. If you do go this route, make sure you call someone familiar with the area. I've seen out of area agents submitting wildly differing Broker Price Opinions on my short sale listings
For many of us, the equity in our home is a large part of our retirement plan and financial future. Just as you check in now and then on your retirement accounts, or credit scores knowing the equity value in your real estate investment is a smart move....and besides, it's easy and free!
Colleen Fischesser is the Designated Broker and Owner of RE/MAX Select Real Estate . She has been successfully helping clients buy and sell real estate in the greater Seattle Washington area since 1990 and specializes in South East King County including the communities of Covington, Renton, Auburn, Kent, Ravensdale, Black Diamond & Maple Valley. Voted by clients and industry professionals as one of Seattle Magazine's 5 Star, Best in Client Satisfaction for eight years running, as well as a recipient of the 2011 Seattle/King County Association of Realtors Community Service Award, , she and her team rank in the top 50 of RE/MAX teams in the entire Northwest region. Colleen is committed to remaining on the cutting edge of real estate marketing and technology while providing value-added, personalized service.
The Real Estate Scoop as it pertains to the Pacific Northwest, primarily South East King County where you can get more for your money but are within driving distance of the Seattle Waterfront or Cascade Mountain Ranges. I love to keep on top of what is going on it the local market and with new technology in the industry. Feel free to email or post a comment or question anytime!
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.