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 home's 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 value? One thing is for sure, in today's tech savvy, instant estimates, social state of mind, quick answers from popular websites and computerized methods 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 appraisal 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, Realtors® are usually very active in their local community. They truly have a pulse on the local market and you can get an accurate evaluation very quickly and at no cost.
Here is a typical scenario for home sellers. "Honey, look, our neighbors just listed their home for $300,000. Can you believe that?" "Well, if they listed for $300,000 and ours is bigger, our home must be $450,000." Over and over again, this is how many people I see place the value of their home in the marketplace. But in a real estate transaction, as in any marketplace, it is the buyer that determines the actual price.
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.
5 Factors That Determine House Value
Age and Condition
Amenities and Upgrades
Local Market Conditions
You have to consider the location, condition, age, neighborhood, current inventory of homes for sale, current buyer demand, and many more factors. The complexity of this task is why I stress that if you are at all curious about how much a certain house is valued, to get with a local Realtor®.
3 Main Questions for any Accurate House Value Analysis
#1 How is real estate valued?
I hate to use this analogy for evaluations, but let's look at the iPhone. Picture buying an iPhone on eBay. Before buying it, wouldn't you look and see what other, identical iPhone's were selling for? 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 the value of a property, look at comparable property and see what it sold for. Notice I mentioned the word "sold," not "listed." That's how 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: the first is who is making the comparison, and the second is where they're getting their information.
#2 Who is making the comparison?
Computers can can calculate efficiently and consistently when it comes to massive number crunching. Take for instance an online mortgage calculator, affordability calculator, or refinance calculators. These are great tools to use with amortization tables that will be accurate down to the penny. But computers don't see the bigger picture, and they need people to find sold data and input it into the system.
#3 Where is the information coming from?
The primary source for home sales information is county records. But county records can cause a lot of confusion, because every county in America has different departments. Two of the departments that we deal with for county records are the Tax Assessor's Office as well as the Recorder’s Office or the Register of Deeds.
County Records Data for House Evaluation
- Square Footage
- Improvements Data
- Permits ( Current and Past )
- 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.
- Drive By Appraisal
- Is Appraisal for Refinance of Purchase?
- Who ordered the Appraisal?
- Foreclosures Affecting House Appraisal
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 how many 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 appraisal because of inaccurate records, where can you get the best information for how to get an accurate and fair market value? 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 Price
- Square Footage
- How much are the Liens
- Owner of House for Tax Levy
- House Improvements Permits
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 properly 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. 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.
The Local MLS - The Crucial Component
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. Remember my statement from earlier about real estate being local? Each MLS is localized and independently owned, as it should be, because real estate is very much a local market.
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 a local Realtor® when trying to establish the true value 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 Comps
- Square Footage
- Closing Date
- # of Bedrooms
- # of Bathrooms
- Comparable Age
- 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 value. But even with the best information, you can still screw up in determining property values.
Location, Location, Location
Locations play a big role in property prices. 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 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.
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 houses 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 value.
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 House Value comparables
- Websites don't know about House Values in Certain Neighborhoods
- House Value Require an Independent Appraisal
- Banks do not use Website to determine House Value ( Why should you? )
- Websites Can't Tell the Character of a House 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 house 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. That's how you determine property values.
Final Note on Mortgages, Financing and Home Equity
If you are looking for a property evaluation, home equity, your home equity line of credit (HELOC), or refinancing, just let me know.
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.
Thanks for reading how much is my house worth. Contact me at 727-483-7349 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
How much is my house worth? https://t.co/on0kCPbmtL— PeterMarkSEO (@PeterMarkSEO) February 18, 2018
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