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Here Are 6 Free Hacks To Help Estimate What Your Home Is Truly Worth

Here Are 6 Free Hacks To Help Estimate What Your Home Is Truly Worth

As a homeowner considering selling your most valuable asset, your home, it can be frustrating to not have access to the same tools that would make quick work for any licensed real estate agent to estimate your home’s actual value. Yet, as an ordinary citizen, you may have spent hours or even days on end navigating popular websites that might help you find out what your home is worth.

If that’s you, then worry not, because as you can see in the graphic below, well over 27,000 home owners just like you have googled the key words “how much is my house worth”, just in the last 30 days alone.

Ahrefs' How Much Is My House Worth Search Volume

    With numbers this staggering, and because we know that many homeowners become frustrated with realtors and want to sell their home without using a realtor …We thought that it was time to share some little known free hacks to estimate the current value of your home (on your own).

    1. Use Free Online Home Value Estimators like Zillow

    It’s not a secret that Zillow has a free home appraisal calculator built into it’s real estate website, but is it accurate in determining what your home is worth? Zillow has reduced it’s 2006 error rate of 13.6% down to a current error rate of only 7.9%, according to Zillow‘s own research.

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    So should you solely use Zillow? No, but you should absolutely find the Zestimate for your specific property, write it down and see how it compares to the other figures that you will gather later.

    2. Generate Legitimate Offers From Real Investors

    As a seasoned real estate investor of over 5 years, I’ve spoken to and dealt with many homeowners that say they “need to sell”, yet they were hesitant to sell to me at my price. Why? Not because my offer was too low; it was because they didn’t feel that they knew exactly how much their house was really worth.

    So, to ease their concern about value, they went through the extra leg work to contact a few other investors and also got offers from them. They then compared those offers against mine to give them a better picture of their current “as-is” cash value of their home. But why not take it one step further and ask each investor that you meet with, to tell you what they would sell the house for, once any improvements were completed.

    This is an excellent way to get a good ballpark figure of your home’s value, based on the hard work & research of 3 unbiased investors.

    3. Research Your local Courthouse Deeds of Trusts

    Most homeowners don’t have enough experience in the real estate arena to know what they don’t know. In regards to finding your home’s value using guerrilla techniques, you might not know that researching your local courthouse’s deeds of trusts could help you get a very good idea of what homes are selling for in your very neighborhood. Here’s one way to go about finding a deed of trust:

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    1. Using your local County Appraiser’s Website, enter your street name or a street nearby where you live

    step-1

      2. Find a house that has a Deed date of within the last 12 months, like this one

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        3. Enter the home’s legal description into your County’s Clerk Office Records Website

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          4. In the search results, find the last Deed of Trust filed. Click on it…you’ll see the buyer’s loan amount when they purchased the property

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            Once you have the property’s loan amount and loan type (e.g. conventional/FHA/ VA), you can easily work your way backwards to get an idea of what the home probably sold for. For example, most FHA buyers finance the full 96.5% of the purchase, so calculate ($174,000 X 1.0362 = $180,298).

            This hack will get you very close to the total purchase price of the house, however, this method works best with FHA buyers. Many times the deed of trust will specify if it was an FHA loan or not.

            4. Estimate Value Based on Your Home’s Appraised Tax Value

            Having run hundreds if not thousands of comparable sales in my career as a Realtor/Investor, I have found that in my county (most likely many counties are the same), a properties assessed tax appraised value is equal to about 88-92% of it’s market value. This means that if a home’s market value is $100,000, then most likely its tax appraised value will be in the range of $88,000 to $92,000.

            If you’re county appraiser’s tax rolls are closely aligned to actual market values like this, then this quick hack may work for you.

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            5. Call For Sale Signs in Your Neighborhood

            FILE - In this Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015, file photo, a "sale pending" sits atop a realty sign outside a home for sale in Surfside, Fla. The National Association of Realtors releases its pending home sales index for June on Wednesday, July 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

              Sure, if you’ve ever purchased a home, you already know that if you’ll call an agent’s for sale sign the agent will tell you the home’s current list price, square footage, and beds/baths of a home, but they won’t and simply can’t tell you what it’ll actually sell for. That’s because they don’t know…unless it’s under contract or pending sale.

              If you’ll simply ask the agent if the home is still available, and they say “no, it’s pending sale or under contract”, then you next question should be; Is it selling for close to list price? If the agent answer’s “yes” or “yes, right at list price”, then you basically just received a “real-time” value of your home (considering the home is very similar to yours).

              6. Get Comps From Someone You Already Know

              Asking someone you know that has their real estate license for advice is probably one of the easiest and least time consuming ways to get an extremely accurate value of your home. Why? Because real estate agents have access to their local MLS, which is chock-full of “real-time” sales data in your area. As a current licensee, I have never told a friend or a friend of family that I wouldn’t run a comparable sales report for them, so why not work through your existing Rolodex and call around to see who you know that knows an agent?

              More by this author

              James Vasquez

              Real Estate Investor

              Man focused on selling his home himself Here’s 4 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Sell Your House Yourself Here Are 6 Free Hacks To Help Estimate What Your Home Is Truly Worth Here Are 6 Free Hacks To Help Estimate What Your Home Is Truly Worth 5 Signs It's Time To Fire Your Real Estate Agent 5 Signs That It’s Time To Fire Your Realtor

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              Last Updated on October 22, 2020

              8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

              8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

              How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

              Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

              When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

              Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

              What Makes People Poor Listeners?

              Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

              1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

              Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

              Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

              It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

              2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

              This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

              Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

              3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

              It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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              I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

              If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

              4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

              While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

              To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

              My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

              Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

              Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

              How To Be a Better Listener

              For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

              1. Pay Attention

              A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

              According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

              As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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              I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

              2. Use Positive Body Language

              You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

              A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

              People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

              But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

              According to Alan Gurney,[2]

              “An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

              Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

              3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

              I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

              Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

              Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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              Be polite and wait your turn!

              4. Ask Questions

              Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

              5. Just Listen

              This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

              I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

              I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

              6. Remember and Follow Up

              Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

              For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

              According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

              It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

              7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

              If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

              Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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              Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

              Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

              NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

              1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
              2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

              8. Maintain Eye Contact

              When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

              Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

              By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

              Final Thoughts

              Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

              You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

              And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

              More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

              Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

              Reference

              [1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
              [2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
              [3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
              [4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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