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.
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.
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:
1. Using your local County Appraiser’s Website, enter your street name or a street nearby where you live
2. Find a house that has a Deed date of within the last 12 months, like this one
3. Enter the home’s legal description into your County’s Clerk Office Records Website
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
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.
5. Call For Sale Signs in Your Neighborhood
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?