Your home: It may be your sanctuary, your retreat, where you’ve started or raised a family, and a place where you’ve created many memories. While your home may hold a lot of sentimental value, it’s important to determine its true, unbiased market value if you’re looking to sell in the near future. Beyond sleuthing online to find out what homes in your neighborhood are selling for, there are more official ways to get a general idea of your home’s value. From talking to real estate agents to understanding the demand, here’s what you need to know.
Ask an agent
Many sellers know what they want to get for their home, and they’re more educated about the market because of the ability to research online. But there’s so much information on real estate sites, and not all of it is correct, which can leave you misinformed. Plus, doing your own research to find comparable sales and looking up your property’s value in city tax records can be a lot of work.
An easier option? Work with a professional who can do this work and research on your behalf. “Contact a real estate agent,” says Kristina Modares, a Realtor in Austin, Texas. “I know this sounds biased, but they are experts and will be your best guide.” Every market is different, and the same house could have a different value in your neighborhood versus a neighborhood five miles away.
Realtors know the market, and know the value of the improvements you’ve made to your home. The right real estate agent can guide you through the process should you decide to sell — and there should never be a cost to you as a seller to get a market analysis for your home.
Compare the right properties
Because the surrounding market largely determines your home’s value when you list it for sale, comparing apples to apples is extremely important. “If you have a ranch home, only compare it to other ranch homes,” says Tiffany Alexy, a real estate broker in Raleigh, North Carolina. Location can also influence value — if your ranch home is on a cul-de-sac and other recently-sold comps were ranches on a busy street, yours could net a higher price.
Alexy adds that you also want to look at the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the total square footage, and features like a basement or garage. She says homeowners should focus on sales from the past six months in similar neighborhoods.
Know your area’s supply and demand
The actual features of your home and property help drive the sale price — but so do broader market conditions. If your home is the only one for sale on the block and there are many interested buyers, that could boost your list price.
On the other hand, if the market is saturated with properties for sale and no one is buying, your selling price might drop because there’s too much supply and not enough demand.
Get an appraisal
Comparative analysis and expert opinions can help you determine the price range for listing your home on the market. But the only way to get a more concrete idea of what your home is worth is to order an appraisal.
“Rather than the estimate of a home’s value that a real estate agent can give you, a licensed appraiser can give you the exact amount they think your house is worth,” Alexy says. If you’ve made improvements to your house, like adding a new roof, your appraiser will also take this into consideration.
She notes that even this is still based on opinion and other appraisers may contest the original report. “But you can elect to share the appraisal with prospective buyers to demonstrate that at least one objective third party determined the price of the home,” she says.