Conducting a professional appraisal of your home is the best way to locate comparable homes in your neighborhood, but there are other, less costly methods.
Selling your home can be a very difficult process. One of the preliminary considerations in selling your home is what price you should ask. Evaluating the prices of comparable homes in your neighborhood may sometimes solve this problem. Investigating the prices of homes, which are comparable to yours, that have recently been sold in your neighborhood can provide you an approximate value of your own home and give you a starting point in setting a sales price.
There are several methods by which you can discover prices of comparable homes in your neighborhood. The first and probably most reliable method is by hiring a professional home appraiser to conduct an appraisal of your home and property. Professional appraisers typically evaluate your home and similar homes in the same geographic area and provide you with a report stating the price of your house and comparing its features with other houses that have recently sold in the area. The appraisal will usually consist of property measurements, approximate age and square footage of your house, survey information, details about the internal and external features of your home (floors, fences, decks and porches, garages, swimming pools, etc.), and will assess a value for each of the features. The appraisal report lists the features of your home in a comparison chart with several other homes in the area. The chart also lists the sales prices of the comparable homes and reports an approximate value for your home.
Appraisal reports are very useful tools, and are very often required before a house is sold because many financial institutions will not lend a buyer more than the appraisal value of the property. Consulting a professional appraisal service is probably the best method to find the value of your home in relation to the value of other comparable homes in your neighborhood. It is also probably the most expensive as professional appraisals typically cost between $300 and $500.
Retrieving tax information on houses you think might be comparable in your neighborhood is another method that may be used to identify a starting selling price. This information can be found in your local tax assessor’s office. The tax assessor’s office in most courthouses keeps records concerning all of the properties within the jurisdiction. These records provide information concerning the property boundaries, dates of previous sales and sales prices, and the current value assessed to the property for tax purposes. The assessed value of the home is not necessarily the actual value of the property, but is simply the value the government has placed on the house and land. The assessed value is used to compute the amount of property taxes that the homeowner must pay every year.
Assessed values do not always reflect the actual value of the property, but can typically give a good starting point in determining the value of your home. The assessed value is often a percentage of the actual retail value of the home, but these percentages can fluctuate from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. If you know the approximate percentage of property value assessed for taxes in your jurisdiction, then these records can help indicate the value of comparable homes in your area. Suppose there is a home that has similar size, age, and property features of your own home in your neighborhood, if you know that property is usually assessed at 80% of the market value for tax purposes in your area and find that the similar home is assessed at $160,000, then you can probably assume that your home and the comparable home should have a market value of about $200,000. Tax records are considered public information and should be provided to you on request. There may be a small fee for the retrieval and reproduction of the documents, but this method is much cheaper than conducting a professional appraisal.
Another useful method for identifying comparable homes in your neighborhood is to simply look around at the houses that are for sale near you. Many houses on the real estate market contain information tubes that will outline the features of the home and list the price being asked for the home. Gathering these information sheets from homes in your area can be a useful tool in determining which houses are comparable to your own and the prices for which they are selling. Even if you do not find a home that is comparable to your own, this may assist you in setting a price ceiling or floor for your asking price. If you have a two bedroom house on one acre of land and you find that the owners of three bedroom house on 3 acres of land are asking $200,000 for their house, then you probably should not ask that price for your own house. You should also consider other features of the properties such as physical appearance, age, and geographic location when using this method, as a two-bedroom house on one acre that is in a new subdivision might sell for more than a three-bedroom house on three acres that is next to the local landfill.
You might also consult a professional real estate agent to help find comparable homes in you area before selling your own home. Some real estate agents might be willing to assist you in conducting this investigation when you express your desires to them. Most real estate agents will be eager to show you houses in your area if you tell them that you are looking for a new home. By looking for a new home with a real estate agent, you can look inside of the homes in your area that are for sale to see how they compare to your own home. Using your own visual inspection of the homes and their sales price can often provide you with a logical starting point for setting the price on the home you are wishing to sell.