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Houses can sell quickly or take a long time. Some factors that can affect the sale of a house are the price, condition, location and whether it’s been used as a rental property.
You may be on the verge of making an important financial decision about your home. Perhaps you are about to sell it because your family situation has changed significantly. Or maybe you want to refinance your home to get a better mortgage rate. So where do you begin? One of the best places to start is by determining your home value. Typically, you will get this information from a local real estate agent if you sell your home. If you’re refinancing, this information will come from a certified appraiser.
But if you’re wondering, “What’s my house worth?” it’s simple to get an estimate without having to contact one of these professionals. You can use an online property value estimator to get started. Unfortunately, not all house value estimator sites provide the same values, so this guide will explore some of the best home estimator sites that you can rely on.
Not all home value estimators are created equal. Each site uses a different set of criteria and varying algorithms to perform a valuation. Accuracy is critical, but there are some other key factors to remember when you’re looking to answer the question of “What’s my home worth?”
Some of the most common reasons a homeowner would use a home value estimator site is when selling or buying a home, considering a loan, or refinancing. Home value estimators can return results for homes on or off the market. Some estimators will return only a home’s valuation, while others will include more information about a home, including its acreage, square footage, and the number of rooms.
When using home value estimator sites, consider that these values aren’t market values. Market value is the value of a house at the time it’s placed on the market; it’s the price a buyer is willing to pay for a person’s property based on perceived value. This perceived value could be higher or lower than the market value. The values on home value estimator sites aren’t appraisal values, either. An appraiser determines the home’s appraised value based on various factors, mainly how much homes in the neighborhood have sold for recently. Home value estimator sites may consider the market and appraised values along with other values to arrive at their estimates. Still, valuations from these sites are only estimates and could change due to several variables.
So how exactly do these sites determine home value? Every site pulls information from various sources. These sources include MLS (multiple listing services), county records, and comparable homes in the area.
Another way to determine a home’s value is by seeking the assistance of a real estate agent who will prepare a comparative market analysis. This analysis is based on other properties recently sold in the area. Still another way to determine home value is by soliciting the help of a certified appraiser. An appraiser will do a much more hands-on home valuation for a fee. The cost of an appraisal may typically be $300 to $400. However, for much larger properties, it can cost over $1,000. Because home value estimator sites are free, they can be a beneficial first step before paying for an appraiser’s services.
Accuracy is often an issue when using these value estimator sites. Depending on whether the property is on or off the market, some sites may be off by as much as 1 to 10 percent. Homes that are on the market or were recently sold and those with updated public information will have more accurate estimates. Unfortunately, recent changes, such as renovations to the home, may not be calculated into the valuation. If you’ve done a major remodeling job, like adding a bedroom or bathroom, but haven’t updated the public records, it won’t factor into the valuation either. These discrepancies could yield misleading results when a user plugs in their address. In some cases, it’s a good idea to use a remodeling estimator in addition to a home value estimator to determine the value of a home.
When using a home value estimator, keep in mind when the site updates information. The value of a property may increase over time, especially if there have been recent renovations or significant changes within the neighborhood. Also, a home could be losing value due to its being outdated, poor curb appeal, or low property tax valuation. High-traffic, reputable services that pull from robust listing sites will typically update more regularly; these sites may display the last update time. Depending on its algorithms, a home value estimator site may update daily, weekly, monthly, or at other intervals.
Some house details are public information, so a user can plug in any address and determine information about a property. The results may yield the value of the home and a few other essential details about the property. However, if users want to get very detailed information on a particular property, this information generally isn’t available to the public. A site will allow access to this information if a user claims a property by setting up an account. The user can log in and edit the available data with an active account to provide much more accurate results with an active account.
In addition to a home value estimator, some sites may provide additional tools for the user. For example, some sites allow users to search for or list a home for sale. Some may also offer a glossary of mortgage terms, educational resources, and credit cards. Not only do these sites provide tools for people who want to sell or refinance their homes, but if a homeowner prefers to become a landlord and rent their property, some sites also provide tools to help advertise or manage the property. Depending on which home value estimator a user chooses, there could be various other products that the site wants the user to consider.
We evaluated dozens of free home value estimator sites. We paid particular attention to those associated with an established online real estate brand. Although no home estimator site is 100 percent accurate, we chose the most accurate ones that returned low median error rates. For those that did not have a median error rate, we compared the estimates for their market and off-market homes to the results of our top two choices. We also preferred home value estimator sites that offered other valuable tools to customers in the home buying and selling processes.
Keep in mind that these home value estimator sites aren’t 100 percent accurate—they merely serve as a jumping-off point before taking a home to market or considering a loan. Many variables go into estimating a home’s value, and ultimately, real estate values can shift daily. With that being said, a user may want to get estimates from several of the top sites. If a homeowner has recently renovated or remodeled their home, the estimate may not reflect these updates. Therefore, a homeowner will have to use additional tools such as a home improvement calculator to help determine the return on investment (ROI) of their renovations. Keep in mind that not all upgrades will improve the home’s value, and those that do are unlikely to yield a 100 percent return on investment. Another thing to remember is that estimates from home value estimator sites most likely won’t be used to help list a home or refinance it. A more accurate assessment is needed, such as a real estate agent’s comprehensive analysis or an appraisal.
One of the best things about home value estimator sites is that most don’t charge a fee to determine a home’s value. The user only needs to go to the site, plug in their address, and continue to the results. Homeowners can make preliminary decisions without paying a professional, such as an appraiser, hundreds of dollars for a home valuation—at least not initially. For instance, if a home value estimator reveals that a home’s value is substantially lower than the homeowner thought, the user may conclude that now isn’t a good time to sell or refinance—and they didn’t have to invest any money to come to this conclusion.
Home value estimator sites will never be 100 percent accurate. This is because these sites each use various methods to compile their values. But just because they aren’t 100 percent accurate doesn’t mean that they aren’t helpful. For instance, a user may want to know the value of their home before attempting to refinance or sell it without having an appraiser assess it. Appraisals can be very costly, running upward of thousands of dollars depending on the property’s size. So before putting money down, it would be a good idea to see how much the home is worth. Home value estimator sites give a user a ballpark average of a home’s value.
If you’re reading this guide, you’re probably thinking, “What is my home worth?” So much goes into figuring out what your house is worth. Here are some of the most common questions people ask related to, “What’s the value of my home?”
“How much is my home worth?” is a common question homeowners ask when looking to refinance. However, you will need an accurate appraisal from a certified appraiser when refinancing your home. An appraiser’s work usually involves comparing your property with similar properties in your area that have recently sold and examining the house in person.
No. An appraisal should happen much later in the process, and the buyer typically requests and pays for it as part of the loan process.
Using a home’s value estimator can be tricky because these sites don’t include renovations you may have recently made to your home. To get an accurate estimate of your home value after renovation, you should consider using an ARV (after repair value) tool. Such a tool helps determine how much ROI (return on investment) your home improvement projects will yield.
There are numerous ways you can increase your home value. A few of the best ways are to upgrade your kitchen and bathroom, apply a fresh coat of paint, spruce up your landscaping, and upgrade to high-quality finishes.
The assessed value is an annual estimation of your home’s worth, typically determined by a local municipal property assessor.
Each home value estimator relies on criteria from different sources. These sources include MLS (multiple listing services), tax assessor records, real estate brokerages, listing prices, and more. Home value estimators will use a combination of these sources to arrive at their estimates, all of which yield different results.