In this market, it’s been super-fun to watch your home equity grow. Almost like watching a stock ticker change every minute, it seems like a monthly check-in on your home’s value almost always yields some good news.
I definitely recommend that everyone keeps an eye on their home value, their mortgage balance (the difference between those is called your EQUITY) and this will help you determine the direction of your net worth and how fast your wealth is growing.
What could be more fun than that?
Many people do these assessments once a year or quarterly. My husband and I try to get to it every 6 months or so.
Can You Get A Great Estimate Of Your Home’s Value?
A home is an owner’s most valuable asset, and the purchase of a home is likely the largest financial transaction of a buyer’s life. So no matter what side of the deal you’re on, buyer or seller, you absolutely must know what the home under consideration is actually worth. And the recent explosion in online resources for valuing a home has made it easier than ever. So let’s take a look at the best cost estimator apps and tools for home buyers and sellers in Shoreline, WA.
What Is a Cost Estimator?
First, though, let’s see exactly what the cost estimator apps and tools really are and what they can do.
In simplest terms, a cost estimator is a tool that can help you determine the estimated value of a property. “An online home value estimator offers an automated valuation and estimate for the home. This could be something like a Zillow estimate where you enter your address and get an instant estimation of the home’s worth, or it could refer to more sophisticated tools that provide numbers such as recent sales records in the area, public records information on comparable properties sold near them (such as property taxes), and even data from other market-tracking websites like Realtor.com.”
For buyers, these tools can help answer important questions about a property, provide an estimate of its worth, and (sometimes) allow you to know how much equity there is. “They are also helpful for those looking to sell their homes because they may want to know what it’s worth so that they could calculate how much profit is earned from the sale or any other fees associated with selling a house.”
Best Cost Estimator Apps and Tools
Now, let’s get into the cost estimator apps and tools themselves . . .
This is one of the best tools for those who want to go the FSBO route.
“Homeowners who are interested in finding out how much their home is worth can do so by inputting the address into an online home value estimator. There are many benefits of ForSalebyOwner, such as free website and mobile app tools for potential buyers to find and contact listings owners directly. This site has been around since 2002 when it was created with a mission to help homeowners list properties themselves without having to pay any listing fees or commissions. It also connects sellers with local agents that work on commission only instead of paying them from your sale proceeds.”
There are many great online tools, and zillow has long enjoyed the reputation as the best cost estimator for buying a home.
However, it’s not perfect – in this video I discuss the Pros and Cons of a zestimate for estimating values.
This is one of the biggies and is the most popular online cost estimator site. It is a free tool that allows you to estimate what a home is worth “using real estate data such as recent sales in your neighborhood along with other factors like local population trends, crime statistics, weather patterns, and school information. The calculations make use of algorithms that take into account hundreds of variables for each address – factors including schools nearby and current rental rates at comparable properties in the area.”
With Zestimate, you get a range of values based on “criteria such as square footage, age, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, lot size, year built, location (zip code), whether it’s a condo/coop or single-family home). The Zestimate is calculated by combining information from local real estate listings with data collected about every property in recent years – taking into account factors like comparable sales prices for similar homes nearby to yours.” It also allows users to compare estimated prices with current listing prices.
As avid followers will know, I used to work for the discount price/reduced service brokerage known as Redfin. One of the things that makes them different is the data they provide for avid due-it-yourselfers. Even though I haven’t worked there for 10 years, I still think their website offers a superior interface and resources for home buyers researching the market.
It’s always a point of pride when my listings hit “Hot Home” Status on Redfin, and I see the estimated price moving up throughout the week.
In this market, I find that most homes sell for well above the redfin value estimator tool. In fact, in a recent listing in Marysville, WA – the Redfin Estimate was $612K (we listed for $575K for strategic reasons). We watched the Redfin estimate climb to $668K while the listing was on the market, and it eventually sold for $775K… well above the estimated cost.
As a cost estimator tool for buyers, Redfin is not perfect, but it does a good job of trying to keep up to date and provide buyers with useful data.
TRULIA’S LOCAL MARKET VALUES TOOL
With this tool, people across the country can find out what homes are worth currently or at any other point in time by simply entering the address. “Trulia’s Local Market Values tool is a valuable resource to help home sellers and buyers, as well as anyone with an interest in how homes are priced across America.”
If, for example, a home sold in recent years, “you can see how much it sold for and view public records such as tax assessor data. You can also pull up estimates of what your house is worth at any point through automated valuation models that use publicly available information about homes to estimate their value.” This tool scours millions of listings across the country to allow users to “get a better idea of current market trends and values than they could by viewing just a few homes in their neighborhood.”
U.S.News (in partnership with HomeLight) offers a detailed cost estimator tool “that takes into account the amount of work needed on the property when you plan to sell and more. Home values are presented in a range, as well as how the range may differ when listing the property with an agent or selling quickly to an investor.”
Chase offers a cost estimator tool that will help you arrive at an even more accurate cost estimate. It provides information about recently sold homes, as well as neighborhood trends.
The tool I like to use to track my homes’ data and market values across the country is HomeBot. This is not a free tool (I pay for it) but I can set up a free account for you under my license if you’d like. This will email you updates with information about sales and rental data in your area, as well as an estimated value for your home. It’s a lot of fun and our clients seem to love it.
But Nothing Beats a Local Agent
These apps and tools are a good starting point to help you get a good idea of your home’s value. But I would caution you that there is a difference between what the tool says, and what your home is likely to sell for in the marketplace. Plus, the way your realtor prepares, markets and presents the home in the marketplace is a big deal. You have to attract and negotiate with the top parties to make sure the home sells for its maximum, top dollar potential.
Nothing beats the skill and expertise of a good Shoreline, WA agent, especially when it comes to performing a comparative market analysis – the number-one estimator tool that is both art and science. You just can’t rely on your smartphone or computer to give you the final word on a home’s value. When you’re ready to go beyond cost estimator apps and tools and find out the real value of a home in Shoreline, WA, contact us today at (206) 578-3438.