Thanks to the internet, there are any number of tools you can use to look up the value of your home. Of course, using five different sites will result in finding five different assessments. A recent check of
Bank of America, and
eppraisal occurred in the same home having a value ranging from $167,400 (Chase) to $331,800 (Remax).
Of note, the sites mentioned above will provide you with home appraisal information immediately. Other sites request your email address to email you a “report” that contains similar information. The cost, of course, to using these sites is that you have just given your email information to a company. They will send you the report in addition to endless emails about your home value, your neighbor’s, and wouldn’t you like a second mortgage? Given the number of sites that will provide you with a valuation without requiring your email address, it’s probably best to avoid those that do request that information.
Why do the home prices vary so wildly?
Price estimates vary because each internet tool relies on an undetermined but decidedly different number of data sets in making value determinations. The information relied upon can include such things as recent sales in the neighborhood – but what is a “neighborhood?” By extending or reducing the area searched, the values can vary. Some sites consider such things as the quality of the schools. If you are a parent of young children, you might find this information extremely valuable in deciding where to live. Contrast a retired couple, who may not even consider such information.
What the home price estimate can’t take into consideration.
The internet estimates cannot take into account certain things that will impact the amount your home is worth. How recently have you replaced the roof? If the answer is, “Not in the 20 years I’ve owned the property,” this will impact your home value. If you have painted all the walls a dark violet, this, too, could have an impact on your ability to obtain top dollar for your property.
What about the property tax assessor’s value?
The tax assessor assesses each home for a “tax value.” This is the amount the city will use to determine your share of taxes paid by the city. Tax assessments compare homes, appraising homes of similar size and location in a similar manner. The intention is for each homeowner to pay a reasonable, fair share of the taxes of the town.
How do I find out my home’s tax assessed value?
Each year, the tax assessor’s office will mail you a document, detailing this year’s tax assessed value, as well as last year’s. If you have somehow misplaced this information, you can go to the tax assessor’s office to obtain this information. Many cities also have this information available online. A Google search of “how do I get the tax assessed value of my [insert city here] home” will assist you in determining if you can obtain the information online. Because this information is considered part of the “public record,” you can get this information for your home, as well as the homes of your neighbors.
What is the difference between the tax assessment and a home appraisal?
The tax assessment is used by the tax assessor’s office almost exclusively, although a mortgage company may use this information to determine a reasonable estimate for escrow. A home appraisal is much more involved. In determining the value of a home for resale purposes, a number of things can be taken into consideration. What is the value of the neighborhood? This involves reviewing crime rates, the nature and quality of the schools, the neighborhood “walkability score” and other factors that are community specific. Home appraisals are also “house specific.” Two externally identical houses, located right next door to each other, could vary in value wildly. This is because part of the evaluation includes what the interior of the house contains. It the kitchen updated? Is there a brand new washer and dryer in the house? Is the bathroom modern and up to date? Has the insulation been replaced recently? Is there maintenance free siding on the home? What about the yard? Has it been well maintained and cared for? Is there landscaping? A fish pond? What about a pool?
How else can you find the value of someone else’s home?
Because certain home improvements require a permit, you can access information on home improvements by viewing the city’s building permit applications. You can also rely on public records for the following:
The identity of the Taxpayer/Owner; Buildings and zoning information; Sales history; Energy use information; Licenses & license history; Inspections history; Taxation and assessed history.
At the end of the day, however, the amount your home is worth is based on what a person is willing to pay for it, and what the owner is willing to take to part with the home. Visiting with a realtor can give you an idea of what your home may be worth, but until the sale is finalized, the value remains uncertain.