For every homebuyer wondering how much house you can afford, there’s a homeowner asking a very different question: “How much is my house worth?”
An online home value estimator can get you closer to an answer. But finding a worthwhile home value estimate requires more effort than clicking around websites.
Who needs a home value estimate?
A millennial inheriting a five-bedroom might be the prime audience for free home value estimators. You would want to know exactly what you just came into.
More likely, knowing the value of your home could help clarify your property tax burden or your home insurance premiums.
Your property tax, for example, is based in part on the assessed value of the property, which is typically 80 to 90 percent of its market value. If your property hasn’t been valued by your county’s assessor’s office for years, you could be paying too much (or too little) tax on it.
As far as insurance goes, if you choose to insure your home based on its market value (not its replacement cost), that perceived value will affect your premium.
There are plenty of other reasons you might want to know the value of your home, including the most obvious: You’re either considering or preparing to sell it. Other possible reasons could be that you’re:
- Looking to tap the equity in your home for another expense
- Looking to refinance your mortgage
- Planning for the divvying up of your estate
Start with home value estimators
Zillow started the rush on home value estimators in 2006, seeking to answer the question of how much your house is worth. Its home valuation tool combines public data with user-submitted information about homes.
Beyond that, it’s not rocket science. The value of your home will be affected by the recent sale price of similar homes nearby. The tool compares your home to others based on factors like the number of bedrooms and bathrooms and square footage. Unless your home is an oddity, there should be a comparable home nearby for comparison.
The tools work intuitively. You type in your address (or someone else’s) to receive a snapshot of the home’s value. Here’s what I found when entering an address in a nice California Bay Area neighborhood:
You’ll also see facts and figures, like the last sale of the property and the year it was built. If you’re the homeowner, you’ll have the option of updating the page’s information. Crowdsourcing improves the estimate of your listing and the properties near it.
But they’re not full-proof. Zillow, for example, estimates that only about half of its Zestimates for Seattle properties are within 5.4 percent of the home’s final sale price.
The value of the four-bedroom Bay Area house varies depending on where you enter the address:
- Zillow: $2.08 million
- RE/MAX: $2.12 million
- Redfin: $1.88 million
- Chase: $2.1 million
- Bank of America: $1.83 million to $2.33 million
As a service, many of these websites offering a home value estimator also offer to connect you with a real estate agent to further your research. Whether you take them up on this offer, remember that these estimators are merely a starting point.
Fill in the blanks with professional help
You could use home value estimators to also research comparable home sales in your area. You might even check with your city or county assessor and property records offices to pull sale prices of your neighbors’ houses.
With just a few clicks, for example, I was able to see how much my landlord paid for the New York City building where I rent an apartment. The city’s department of finance has a nifty search tool.
When it comes to finding the market value of your home, however, you’ll likely need professional help to advance in the process.
Working with appraisers and real estate agents
If you don’t want to attract the attention of a realtor, you might consider hiring a licensed appraiser to visit your home and give you an estimate. Appraisers are trained to estimate your home’s value by looking at the condition of the home, not how it’s decorated.
Unlike a real estate agent motivated by a commission, an appraiser would be more likely to give you an objective estimate. They typically charge an appraisal fee of between $225 and $450, according to HomeAdvisor.
If a sale might be in your future, it’s worth meeting with multiple realtors. Just as you might seek a second and third doctor’s opinion before undergoing surgery, due diligence could help you find a real estate agent that you can trust.
Agents can be good sources of useful statistics. Ask your agent candidates for a comparative market analysis of your home. A superior agent should have access to private property data that you won’t have access to on your own.
Just remember to push your agent to find your home value estimate, not necessarily its potential sale price. If you’re not ready to sell, knowing its value now can help inform your decisions down the road.
Home value estimates fluctuate
“How much is my house worth?” is a complicated question. You’re unlikely to find the best answer with a few clicks of your mouse or taps on your phone.
You’re more likely to need some additional research and professional help. After all, home values change, and these changes are not always predictable.
The value of your home won’t hold steady thanks to factors like your property’s (needed) renovations, the quality of the nearest downtown area, and your neighborhood. So you should always try to stay in the know if you want a good answer to your question.
Get multiple mortgage offers at once
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2020!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|1.99% – 5.64%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.89% – 5.90%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.25% – 6.28%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.89% – 6.77%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.39% – 6.01%||Undergrad |
|1.99% – 5.61%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
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1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.79% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.64% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of July 31, 2020, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 7/31/2020. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
© 2020 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.
Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.
Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.
Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.
Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of September 9, 2020. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount.
The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.
To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of September 10, 2020.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.16% effective Sep 1, 2020 and may increase after consummation.