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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

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      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

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              Last Updated on June 12, 2019

              Top 10 Ways to Lead More Effectively with Humor

              Top 10 Ways to Lead More Effectively with Humor

              Humor and laughter provide so many rewards. Studies have shown 20 seconds of laughter yield the same benefits as 3 minutes of hard rowing. A Robert Half International study reported 84% of executives believe a worker with a good sense of humor does a better job. Incorporating humor more effectively in the workplace allows you to defuse difficult situations, reduce stress, create attention for new ideas, build rapport, and be a more approachable and memorable leader.

              With those benefits, it behooves you to hone your workplace comedic skills. So in the tradition of David Letterman, here are the top 10 ways to more effectively lead with humor!

              #10. Look for Joy in Life

              An important step is continually looking for joy throughout your life. This happens in a variety of ways:

              • Focus less on yourself and more on helping others. Need help? Read “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” the classic by Dale Carnegie.
              • Laugh more – kids reportedly laugh 400 times per day vs. 15 times for adults. Aim for laughing 40 times daily to be at least 10% of your former self!
              • Regularly read humorous comic strips and look for quips and funny comments in your reading.
              • Even in challenging situations, hunt for something funny or humorous you can take away.

              #9. Learn What Makes You Laugh

              If you’re trying to laugh 40 times daily, it’s important to know what makes you laugh and have ready access to laugh-provokers. Figure out 107 things which make you laugh. Unrealistic? Hardly! Why 107? Because 107 is funnier than 100! Here’s a recipe for listing what makes you laugh by simply identifying:

              • 13 Movies
              • 11 TV Shows
              • 5 Words or Phrases
              • 19 Personal Stories
              • 5 Cartoons
              • 7 Audio or Video Pieces
              • 11 Comedians
              • 7 TV Personalities
              • 7 Funny Photos
              • 7 People You Know
              • 15 of Anything Else
              • TOTAL = 107 Funny Things

              Collect & save these humor starters in a “Smile File” when you quickly need a laugh or comedic inspiration.

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              #8. Use Your Own Comedic Material

              Personal experiences are the most genuine humor sources for effective leadership. Look for humor in situations from your own life:

              • Funny things you have said or others have said to you
              • Pratfalls, be they mental, interpersonal, & physical
              • Embarrassing moments or unexpected happenings
              • Times of change or learning
              • Difficult life events (yes, even these can be humor sources)

              When turning personal situations into comedic material, remember lessons learned from a childhood humor staple: Knock-Knock Jokes. These simple jokes work because the knock-knock structure highlights familiar situations, uses only essential words and phrases, and clearly signals a laughing opportunity. They also demonstrate how humor springs from surprise. The laughs come from not knowing who or what exactly is behind the door based on the initial response to “Who’s there?”

              #7. Adapt Somebody Else’s Material

              Beyond your own experiences, there’s a tradition of “borrowing & adapting” (I didn’t say stealing) funny stuff from others. That’s why old-time comedian Milton Berle was called the “Thief of Bad Gags.”

              Part of borrowing successfully is using easily accessible humor sources in ways many don’t consider. Beyond simply Googling “funny” in front of quotes, one-liners, definitions, pictures, or videos, here are two other common sources you can adapt:

              • Cartoons – You can use cartoons in various ways by showing one in a presentation, telling the cartoon’s story (potentially making yourself a character) without any images, or using its punch line as a starting point for new humor.
              • Comedians – Mainstream comedians’ jokes or catch phrases are another source to modify and adapt to your personality or work situation. Watch lots of comedians and learn how professionals do it so well.

              #6. Understand Your Audience

              Using humor in a leadership position requires understanding boundaries on its proper use. It all starts with really understanding your audience by:

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              • Paying attention to top management’s attitudes toward humor.
              • Knowing the audience’s composition – this directly affects which humor types are appropriate.
              • Loving your audience as much or more than you poke fun at them.
              • Inviting others into humor since you can’t assume they share your same humor sensibilities.

              In case you’re contemplating using ad lib humor, completely knowing your audience is even more vital. Ad-libs have the potential for going horribly wrong because audience sensibilities have been misjudged. It’s very beneficial to actually plan and rehearse ad libs. It may sound odd, but identify common work situations you encounter and think through what usually goes wrong or provides a source for potential humor. Work out some “safe” funny comebacks to use as “planned” ad libs.

              #5. Know the Rules and Boundaries

              There are blatant humor no-no’s in the workplace which are quite acceptable for an onstage comedian. At work, avoid harmful practical jokes or pranks, heavily sarcastic comments, and humor rooted in religious, sexual, ethnic, or racial themes. Think you know your work setting well enough to tread on this dangerous ground? Here’s some advice: DON’T. The way questionable humor will be perceived by a workplace audience is too much of an unknown to take big risks when your career is at stake.

              Use this checkpoint to actually see if your intended workplace humor is SAFE. To pass the SAFE test, all of these statements need to be true regarding your joke, comment, or image:

              • I can Say/Show this to my mother.
              • It wouldn’t Anger me if I were the butt of the joke.
              • This wouldn’t trigger an FCC violation
              • Everyone in the audience will be able to get it.

              With even a hint of one false answer, dramatically modify your idea or better yet, abandon it and start over.

              #4. Get over Yourself

              Effective leaders don’t take themselves too seriously. They’re comfortable laughing at themselves and letting others be funny as well. Leaders should become adept at appropriately using self-deprecating humor, i.e., self-directed humor downplaying your own talents, stature, or accomplishments

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              You don’t want to use self-deprecating humor on simply any topic, however. It’s most effectively & appropriately used in:

              • Situations where you’re comfortable & self-confident
              • Areas where your credibility & competence are clearly established
              • Ways that fit your known personality & sensibilities

              Remember – when trying to borrow someone else’s self-deprecating humor, you need to share that person’s perspective & situation. If not, it’s simply deprecating! I once heard a decidedly non-technical Marketing VP call out “data geeks” in the audience. While that’s what they called themselves, she wasn’t a part of their group, and her comment, intended to build affiliation, fell completely flat.

              #3. Need Humor Ideas? Just Look Around

              The workplace is filled with situations lending themselves to comedy. Humor springs from exaggeration, wordplay, misunderstandings, ambiguity, contradictions, paradoxes, pain, and inconsistencies. If you work in any type of business or organizational setting, there are plenty of these situations to go around!

              As a leader, it’s your role to use the proper opptunities to encourage and employ humor successfully by ensuring that:

              • Your humor makes others feel good about themselves.
              • Hurtful fun isn’t made of those less tenured than you in the organization.
              • You don’t use humor when agitated since it can lead to apparent meanness.

              #2. Surround Yourself with Joy

              If you’re looking for more joy and levity in leadership, surround yourself with joyful people. These are people who are funny, easily spur laughter, and routinely cheer people up through their presence.

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              Cultivate relationships with these types of people. Spend time with them, learn from their successful uses of humor, and emulate elements of their approaches that work for you.

              Beyond basking in the joy these people create, select 3 or 4 of them to be an informal comedy team. As your comedy team, solicit their opinions to help you generate and refine humor ideas. They can also provide perspectives on potentially questionable humor material that makes it through the SAFE test, but still feels like it might not be right for a workplace audience.

              #1. Dive into the Fun

              Ultimately, the most important part of successfully using humor as a leader is actually sharing it in the workplace. Here are a few final tips to keep in mind:

              • Practice your humor in appropriate, low-risk settings to find out what works before trying it out with a bigger audience.
              • Signal a laughing opportunity through your words, actions, and tone. It’s also a good practice to give people “permission” to laugh in the workplace.
              • Finally, be earnest in using humor; don’t focus on laughs so much as lightening and adding fun into work settings.

              Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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