Are you considering selling your home, looking to see how much equity you have, or just want to know how much is my house worth? It's good to know your house value in today's market and to keep tabs on it every once in a while. After all, it's your most valued asset. Who knows, you might be surprised. But what is the most reliable way to arrive at a correct price? One thing is for sure, in today's tech savvy, instant automated valuation models can steer you way off course.
Having sold real estate in both Illinois, South Carolina, and Florida markets, I know the inside scoop for getting any house value in any housing market. Because real estate is local, as in a mile radius or smaller in some markets, and each local housing market is unique. You need a local, experienced Realtor®, who will be able to provide you an estimated evaluation with about 95-99.99% accuracy. Get more than one Realtor® to give you a Comparative Market Analysis and you will get an even better picture!
That local Realtor® is a valuable resource when it comes to recent home sales. Furthermore, real estate agents are usually very active in their local community. They truly have a pulse on the local market. You can get an accurate house value evaluation very quickly and at no cost. This is crucial especially when selling your home.
What's my house worth in today's market? How Many Home Value Estimates Go Wrong
Here is a typical scenario for home sellers. "Honey, look, our neighbors just listed their house for $300,000. Can you believe that?" "Well, if their house listed for $300,000 and ours is bigger, our home must be worth $450,000." Over and over again, this is how many people I see place the price of their house in the marketplace. But in a real estate transaction, as in any marketplace, it is the buyer that determines the actual house value.
Has the market changed? I know that when I had a property to sell for a client, and if it was not selling or getting offers, the problem was always the price. One agent I worked with, Leo Silverman, said that the first offer you get is usually the best and you should take it, and then negotiate on other things to close the sale. I was uncertain at first, but I soon learned that he was right.
When it comes to house values, a lot of homeowners, real estate investors, and sellers get it all wrong. I will share with you where the confusion comes from. Keep in mind there are many factors involved when trying to find true prices. Home buyers in the end determine the price.
5 Factors That Determine House Value
- House Location
- House Square Footage
- House Age and Condition
- House Amenities and Upgrades
- Local Market Conditions
When you want to know just how much is the value of a certain property is, there are many factors to consider. Always consider the location, condition, age, as well as current inventory of homes for sale for any property evaluation. The complexity of this task is why I stress that if you are at all curious about property assessments is to get with some local real estate agents. They will give you a true market analysis. Anytime you want to estimate your homes worth you must have a comparative market analysis.
How to Get an Accurate Home Value
#1 How is real estate valued?
When you want to know the value of something you look at comparables in the marketplace. Compare an iPhone for example. What is the best way to get a value for it? Picture buying an iPhone on eBay. Before buying it, wouldn't you look and see what other identical iPhone's were selling for? With the same storage and features as yours. If you go to a grocery store to buy bread, you compare which one is the best deal. This process of looking at comparable sales is how you figure out if it's a good deal, or if it's overpriced.
Your appraisal works in the same way. When you want to know a property, look at comparable property and see what it sold for. Notice I mentioned the word "sold," not "listed." That's the way you figure out most appraisals too. The closer a home is to the selling price the faster it will sell. But if it's so easy, how come so many people get it wrong? There are two main reasons when trying to get the price of your home: the first is who is making the comparison, and the second is where they're getting their information.
#2 Who is making the comparison?
How County Records Affect House Values
Below is property data you can get from most counties in the US. Use these figures along with MLS data
- House Square Footage
- House Liens
- House Owner
- House Improvements Data
- House Permits ( Current and Past )
- House Property Parcel ID
- Taxes ( amount paid and or due )
- Ownership Type
- Seller Name
- Buyer Name
- Sale Price
The Register of Deeds is the group that records deeds and other such documents. These records can tell you information such as what the property is, what liens are on the property, who the owner is and how long they've been the owner when that deed was recorded. In some areas the county records and the Recorder’s Office also have sales information, but not in other areas. This is where it gets a little iffy. Some states are non-disclosure states, like Texas, where they are not required to disclose the sales price on the deed that gets recorded. In other areas it is disclosed, so they will show it.
So states like Tennessee, which are a disclosure state, always have a line on the deed where you're supposed to put in the sales price. There are other states that are strict non-disclosure states, like New Mexico, where there is no requirement for a sales price on the deed. From searches into local prices, I found that South Carolina, South Dakota, North Dakota, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and West Virginia do provide this data. So as you can see, certain states reveal sales prices at the Recorder’s Office level and some don't. This can be a huge hornet's nest for property evaluations. So in what way can you get reliable information on properties? Keep reading for the answer.
Let me tell you what happens to tax appraisals, since most homeowners are not willing to share every bit of news with Tax Assessors. If they add 900 square feet in the form of an extra bedroom and bathroom, they may not tell the Tax Assessor. Why? So they can keep their tax assessment lower and pay less in taxes. In certain states there are homesteads and other kinds of policies, where you can elect that the tax appraisal can only go up by a certain amount each year as a maximum. Over the course of many years the tax appraisal can lag behind the current real assessment.
House Value Appraisals Can Be Incorrect
- Drive By Appraisal ( No inside evaluation )
- Is Appraisal for Refinance of Purchase?
- Who ordered the Appraisal?
- Foreclosures Affecting Appraisal
House Appraisal Appeal
Not only can tax appraisals be way off, but also the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and square footage can be wrong because the Tax Assessor can only get access inside a property less than half the time. Like I mentioned before, most property owners try to hide the number bedrooms and bathrooms they have because it'll reduce their overall tax appraisal.
If the County Recorder's Office — the Register of Deeds and the Tax Assessor — are off in your appraisal because of inaccurate records, where can you get the best information for how to get an accurate and fair market price? Not Zillow! Zillow works by using their algorithms and their property valuation tool to give you an estimate which can be very misleading. Your home, as well as your home equity, is your most valued asset. These 2 minute online estimates are not accurate, regardless of which website you use.
- Recent Sales Proce
- House Square Footage
- House Liens
- Owner for Tax Levy
- Improvements Permits
When you type in your home address into any automated valuation model online and out it spits out a number, here is what happens. That number is based on calculated square footage cost per foot. How can a computer know the price of your home instantly? What if you just recently remodeled? How can these quick evaluations know the condition of your home?
Computers don't know when they have been programmed with a bug, such as wrong assessor data, wrong recorded sales data, and so on. There are too many variables you need to verify if you want to assess a property. Computers don't know how to look outside themselves, and they can't tell if the numbers look wrong after they've calculated something using their home value estimator.
So what happens when we have a lot of people who want computers to make decisions for them? Well, technically the best role of a computer is to help you be more informed so you can make great decisions. We have this wonderful ability to do all sorts of things that technology is not yet able to duplicate, especially in the real-estate investing world.What happens when Zillow, or another site, instantly estimates your price? While they've made a lot of headway with their technology, and they're doing better all the time, websites have massive weaknesses. One of those weaknesses is drawing all their information from the county records to determine house value. Tax Assessors' information, as mentioned before, could all be wrong.Not only are they using that information, but when trying to figure out which properties are comparable, they're drawing a circle around the property in something like a two mile radius. But you and I both know that there are pockets in every part of the US where if you go two miles apart they're in completely different worlds. A 2,000 square-foot home in north San Francisco compared to the same type of home in the south side might be 30% cheaper.
Best Home Value Estimator Tool - The Local MLS
The MLS is the Multiple Listing Service, which is controlled by the Realtors® who put the information into it. More specifically, each MLS is independently owned and there can be more than one in the same geographic area. Each MLS is localized and independently owned, as it should be. Because real estate is a local unique market just like your home. The local MLS is the main crucial house value component.The great thing about the MLS is that real estate agents have a natural checks and balances system, which insures that the information about each property is accurate. Here's how it works. Let's say you're a listing agent, and you list a property for sale and input it in the local MLS. If you put in the wrong bedrooms, wrong bathroom count, wrong square footage, wrong anything, someone will find out. Then, you would either have to make the changes or get a fine from the MLS. This accountability system provides natural checks and balances within the MLS, so the data is both good and accurate.The MLS is why I highly advise you to contact several local real estate agents when trying to establish the true price of your home. And the MLS has other wonderful features. It will tell you not only the exact sales price that occurred, but also if there are seller concessions. In many cases, you can see if the seller paid for closing costs, because that also plays a role in the overall sales price.Here are some factors you and your agent should consider for getting an accurate evaluation. Be sure to compare similar homes that closed no longer than 6 months ago.8 Factors to Compare for Any House Value Using MLS Comparables
- House Square Footage
- House Closing Date
- # of Bedrooms
- # of Bathrooms
- Comparable Age
- House Updates
- House Exterior
- Lot Size
The MLS is where the data needs to come from to make these accurate comparisons, but it does have a couple of drawbacks. The MLS doesn't tell you what liens are on the property, and it doesn't tell you who the owner is. That's where the County Recorder's Office can help you. By combining county records and the MLS data you can get in the right direction to truly understand your property. But even with the best information, you can still screw up in determining property values.
House Value is Closely Related to Location
Want to know a properties value? Look at the location. Locations play a big role in prices and when you You can go from the absolute nicest part of town to completely run-down neighborhoods, all within two miles. But the computer doesn't know that. Zillow, Trulia, and the like, are all getting their data from county records, and they don't really have a good way to match up neighborhoods properly.
These home estimator tools that blow out data like a toupee on a windy day are not reliable. For example, what if you get a bunch of new subdivisions interspersed with some really old subdivisions? Well, you don't want to compare those brand-new homes with those super-old homes. It's not even a comparison for a true market analysis.
What if there is a brand-new home being built in an older neighborhood? The computer can't be the comparing mechanism, because it can't choose which properties are comparable. Truly comparable homes are what you're looking for. That's what the MLS provides: true comparables. So again, let's go back to our iPhone example. If you're trying to figure out if an iPhone is a good deal or not, you need to look at iPhones that are identical to the one you want to buy to compare what those sales were.Getting that apples-to-apples comparison in real estate means you need to find accurate comparable sales, and computers can't do this. Zillow and Trulia can be an absolute disaster on values when it comes to their home value estimator. The only time an estimator is useful is for things like a mortgage calculator, or when you are calculating your credit card payment. A good affordability calculator can be highly accurate. But no calculator will give you an accurate home evaluation.
This can actually work for you or against you, depending on if you're selling or buying, and how Zillow spews out their data. But usually it is a bad idea to use sites like this, because their systems are using the same bad data and the same bad circle-radius comparables. So they're all giving you numbers that are all bad, and that's the best way to describe it. What you want to do differently in getting property values is accessing the MLS with your local Realtor®, because selling homes is their life.Why Websites Cannot Give an Accurate House Value
- Websites use Random Generated comparables
- Websites don't know about comparables in Certain Neighborhoods
- Evaluations Require an Independent Appraisal
- Banks do not use Websites to determine real estate prices ( Why should you? )
- Websites Can't Tell the Character of a Property Location and Improvements
Comparable Data not Manually Checked
Picture that you were going to buy a property and look at the comparables. How do other properties compare with the property you want know the value of? If this home that sold for $300,000 was one of the comparables, then why was that one $300,000 and the other one $275,000? What made it different? Did the first one have more square footage or an extra bedroom?
You don't have to be too scientific about it, because in the end the buyer is the person making the offer and determining the actual value. That's why you don't need to be scientific in every way when you evaluate these comparables. Instead, you want to create an overview, and then start to determine a range of what your house is going to sell for in the real world.
You already have the skills, you just need to get access to the right information and make sure you're the one choosing the comparables, instead of letting a computer choose. You need to know, on every deal as a home seller, exactly the sales price of that property. Not the list price. Whether you have student loans in the family, or just want to know your home equity, contact a local experienced Realtor® for recent home sales (or comment below). Realtors® can also tell if a certain property closed with any type of FHA loans.
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Final Note on Mortgages, Financing and Home Equity
In today's market for home equity, your home equity line of credit (HELOC), or refinancing, I want to recommend some local loan officers. Get in touch with me here. A local loan officer can help with mortgage rates, balance transfer and will provide you with arefinance calculator as well. If you have bad credit, need guidance on homeowners insurance, a 401k rollover, life insurance, current market value let us know. A financial advisor is highly recommended in these situations. Especially when dealing with roth iras. Visit our resource center with our mobile app and we can recommend a insurance company for you.
Consider a financial advisor also for a 401k rollover,life insurance, bad credit, homeowners insurance, insurance company recommendations. If you need more information on how much is my house worth, visit the resource center here. For more current market value tips and home improvements contact us today. A local professional loan officer specializes in first time home buyer loans, FHA loans, VA loans, loan options, amortization calculations, and debt consolidation.They can run your credit score and provide you with the lowest mortgage rates! Because your credit score is closely related to your home equity line, they can check on refinance rates and equity lines of credit. The best part is you can see an amortization calculator with loan options to suit your needs. Using your home equity to pay off student loans and credit cards is the way to go, as your home value can offset any debt consolidation with a balance transfer.