- Determining what a house is worth is not a precise science. The ultimate determinant of value is what a willing buyer actually pays a willing selling, which is dependent on a number of factors—not all of which can be plugged easily into a formula.
Step 1: Hire a Real Estate Appraiser
- The best way to determine what a home is worth is to hire an appraiser to independently evaluate the property. When you refinance, or apply for a mortgage, the bank will hire an appraiser to determine if the property is worth enough to adequately secure the loan. This may not be a true value, as the appraiser is just looking to determine if the value of the house satisfies the banks' requirements. The actual value may be higher.
Property Value Variables
There are a number of things that contribute to the value of a property.
These things include:
- Condition of the home
- Size of home
- Size of lot
- Age of the home
- Location of the home
- Value of recent home sales in the area similar to your home
- Number of comparable homes currently for sale in your area
Step 2: Talk to Real Estate Agents
- If you're looking to value your own home, you should talk to local real estate agents, even if you're not looking to sell. Most real estate agents will prepare a market analysis of your home at no charge. An experienced agent will usually have a good sense of what your house is worth. Make sure to talk to several agents, however, as some may present an overly optimistic view of your home's value. By getting several points of view, you should be able to get a good understanding of what a property is worth.
Step 3: Local Resources for Real Estate Values
- You can get information on local home values by checking the tax records at the local assessor's office. Assessed value may not equal market value, but you can compare assessed values for properties that have recently sold to get an idea of how closely they track the market.
- The local registry of deeds records sales prices of homes, but sometimes it can take several months to get the transaction posted.
- Local newspapers report asking prices, which are generally above a house's actual value.
Step 4: Online Tools to Find Real Estate Values
- Online tools can give you some information, but as they don't reflect an actual understanding of the market, they can produce a value which is off from the actual value by a large margin.