Home Values

What's that House Worth?

Whether you are buying or selling, it pays to know the value of a house so you can get a good deal. Even if you're thinking about refinancing, you'll want to know how much equity you have earned before you apply for a loan.

You can always hire a certified appraiser and pay them hundreds of dollars to evaluate a property. But this appraisal won't be usable when you go for financing, since your lender will select an objective third party appraiser. To save some money, there are lots of less expensive ways to find out what a property is worth.

Get a general idea about trends in local home values by watching home sales listed in the local paper, or checking recent sales recorded in your county tax office. Unfortunately, this data can be dated, particularly when property values are going up or down quickly.

A number of web sites have recently popped up offering free property valuations. While the accuracy of the data from these sites may vary from the final appraisal, they are a good way to get a feel for recent sales in different neighborhoods. Some online home valuation sites like Zillow.com, allow homeowners to provide updated information on renovations and other changes that may impact the value of their homes.

Understanding the appraisal process is important for every borrower. To learn more, read Understanding the Appraisal Process.