What’s Your Home Actually Worth?
Discover What Buyers Will Pay in Today’s Market
It’s easy to look up how much money you have in your savings account or the real-time value of your stock investments. But determining the dollar value of a home is trickier.
As a seller, knowing your home’s worth helps you price it correctly when you put it up for sale. If you price it too high, it may sit on the market. But price it too low and you may be losing out on a good chunk of money (nobody wants that!). For buyers, it’s important to know a home’s worth before you make an offer. You want your offer to be competitive, but you don’t want to overpay for the property.
Even if you’re not a buyer or seller right now, as a current homeowner you might just be curious about the value of your home. Keeping track of your home’s worth year over year helps you understand the trends in your market. So when you are ready to sell, you can take advantage of a good window of opportunity.
The good news is, a trained real estate agent—who understands the nuances of your particular neighborhood—can determine the true market value of your property … and at no cost to you!
THE THREE TYPES OF HOME VALUES
When you start the process of buying or selling a home, you’ll frequently hear the words appraised value, assessed value, and true market value. It’s important to know the difference between each one so you can make better, informed decisions.
A professional appraiser is in charge of determining the appraised value of a home. These appraisals are typically required by a lender when a buyer is financing the property. And while the lender is the one requiring this information, the appraiser does not work for the lender.1Your appraiser should be an objective, licensed professional who doesn’t have allegiance to the buyer, seller, or lender—no matter who is paying their fee.
The number the appraiser comes up with (the appraised value) assures the lender that the buyer is not overpaying for the property. For example, imagine a seller lists a home for $400,000. They reach a deal with the buyer to sell the home for $375,000. However, if an appraiser evaluates the property and determines that the appraised value is actually $325,000, then the lender will not lend for an amount higher than that appraised value of $325,000.2
When figuring out this number, an appraiser will compare the property to similar homes in your neighborhood, and they’ll evaluate factors such as location, square footage, appliances, upgrades, improvements, and the interior and exterior of the home.
The assessed value of a home is determined by your local municipal property assessor. This value matters when your county calculates property taxes each year. The lower your assessed value, the less property tax you’ll pay.3
To come up with this value, your assessor will evaluate what comparable homes in the neighborhood have sold for, the size of your home, age, overall condition, and any improvements or upgrades that have been made. However, most assessors don’t have full access to your home, so their information is limited.
Assessments are done annually to determine how much property tax you owe. Many counties use a multiplier (typically between 60%-80%) to calculate the final assessed value. So, if the assessor determines that the value of the home is $300,000, but the county uses a 70% multiplier, the assessed value of the home would be $210,000 for tax purposes.4
If your assessed value isn’t as high as you envisioned, don’t sweat it. Many homeowners appeal their assessment in favor of a lower valuation so that they can save money on property taxes. If you’re interested in appealing your property tax assessment, let us know. We offer complimentary assistance and would be happy to help you build your case.
True Market Value
True market value is established by your real estate agent. It basically refers to the value that a buyer is willing to pay for the property. A good real estate agent is an expert in determining true market value because they have hands-on experience buying and selling properties. They understand the mindsets of buyers in your market and know what they’ll pay for a desirable house, townhouse, or condo.
As a seller, knowing your true market value is important because it helps you choose how much to list your property for. It can also help you decide if you want to make any improvements to your home before putting it on the market. Your agent can help you figure out which updates and upgrades will have the biggest impact on your true market value.
WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH ONLINE CALCULATORS?
When figuring out your home’s value, you might be tempted to see what popular real estate sites like Zillow, Redfin, and Trulia have to say. When you use an online calculator to determine your home’s value on these sites, it is just an estimate. It’s not an actual appraisal or the “true market value.” These sites all have their own algorithms for coming up with their estimates. For example, Zillow comes up with their “Zestimates” by calculating “public and user-submitted data, taking into account special features, location, and market conditions.” 5
These online estimates can be a great starting point for opening up the conversation with your real estate agent about your home’s worth. But even Zillow recommends that you use a real estate agent for coming up with the actual market value of your home. The site says that once you get your “Zestimate,” you should still get “a comparative market analysis from a real estate agent.”
Having an agent involved in this process is essential because they understand the market better than a computer ever could. They’re showing property in your city every single day, and they know the particular preferences of buyers and sellers in the area. Young professionals, large families, empty nesters, and other groups are all looking for different things in a home. A local agent has most likely worked with all of them, so they understand what every segment in your market is specifically looking for.
HOW AN AGENT FINDS YOUR HOME’S TRUE MARKET VALUE
So, how does an actual real estate agent determine true market value? They’ll start by doing a comparative market analysis (CMA). This means they’ll compare your home’s features to similar properties in your area. For the CMA, the agent looks at the below factors to influence their assessment of your home’s worth:6
A computer algorithm simply can’t take all of these factors into account when calculating the value of your home. The reality is, nothing beats the accuracy of a real estate agent or professional appraiser when it comes to determining a home’s true market value.
YOUR AGENT IS THERE EVERY STEP OF THE WAY
Determining a home’s true market value is a real estate agent’s forte. If you’re a seller, your agent will help you find your home’s market value so you can list it at the right price.
For buyers, your agent will help you determine the value so you can come up with a fair offer. Your agent can also set up a personalized home search on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) for you so you’ll receive emails of listings that meet your criteria. This will help you see what’s out there in your city and how properties are being priced.
Get a Complimentary Report With Your Home’s True Market Value
Curious about your home’s true market value? Call us to request a free, no-obligation Comparative Market Analysis to find out exactly how much your home is worth!
If you’re a current homeowner, or in the market to buy, you’re probably curious about the latest trends in home design.
Sellers who make strategic updates before listing a property can generate increased interest from buyers and, in some cases, a premium selling price. And buyers should consider which features of a home will need updating immediately (or in the near future) so they can factor renovation costs into their overall budget.
Even if you have no immediate plans to buy or sell, we advise our clients to be thoughtful about the colors, materials, and finishes they select when planning a remodel. Making over-personalized or unpopular design choices could hurt a home’s value when it does come time to sell. And selecting out-of-style or overly-trendy elements could cause your renovation to feel dated quickly.
To help, we’ve rounded up eight of the hottest home design trends for 2019. Keep in mind, not all trends will work well in every house. If you plan to buy, list, or renovate a property, consult a professional who can help you realize your vision and maximize the impact of your investment.
White and grey aren’t going anywhere, but expect to see warmer tones and more earthy neutrals popping up in 2019. Cold whites are being replaced by warmer, softer whites. And warmer tones of grey have become a popular alternative to the cooler grays we were seeing earlier in the decade. Dove grey—with a lilac undertone—is a particular favorite with designers this year.
Sherwin Williams chose Cavern Clay, a warm terracotta, as its 2019 color of the year, while Behr selected Blueprint, a mid-tone blue. Benjamin Moore’s selection is Metropolitan, a sophisticated grey.
If you’re preparing to sell your home, consider a light, neutral paint color. Neutral colors provide a blank canvas upon which a buyer can envision placing their belongings, and lighter colors make a room appear larger and brighter.
Don’t feel limited to using one metallic finish throughout your home—or even throughout a single room. Designers are mixing metals in 2019, and their favorites include copper, brass, pewter, gunmetal, and matte black.
Experts suggest picking one metal hue to dominate your color palette and a contrasting tone to complement it. If your room has a warm color palette, choose a warm-hued primary metal, such as brass or copper. For cool palettes, choose a cool-toned metal, like pewter or stainless steel. You can also experiment with mixing finishes, such as polished and hammered copper.
From faucets to cabinet pulls to accent pieces, swapping out your old or dated fixtures is an easy—and relatively inexpensive—way to modernize your decor. Mixing metals adds depth and gives your room a more curated look.
Bringing outdoor elements into the home can help warm up a sterile space. And natural materials can soften a modern design esthetic.
Homeowners are increasingly looking for ways to incorporate these materials throughout their home. Especially popular right now: stone, copper, concrete, and wood. From concrete showers to agate stone tiles, designers are finding unexpected ways to bring the outside in.
One notable exception: granite countertops. Engineered quartz—a combination of ground quartz and resin—overtook natural granite stone as the most popular countertop material in 2018. This durable, low-maintenance, highly-customizable product has won over homeowners and designers alike.
Stainless steel has been the industry standard for years, but the market is trending toward variety and fresh alternatives. Homeowners have more options available than ever to personalize their kitchens with vibrant colors, black stainless, or modern white appliances. Another favorite? Integrated appliances that blend seamlessly into cabinetry. Built-in column refrigerators, which allow you to customize the design and size of your freezer and refrigerator, are becoming a “must-have” in high-end homes.
Advancements in technology have also brought a new wave of appliances to the market. Induction cooktops are replacing commercial gas ranges as a gourmet favorite. And french door ovens and steam ovens are also gaining in popularity—especially ones with smart features you can control from an app on your smartphone.
White will always be a classic choice, but color is finally coming back to kitchens. More homeowners are choosing cabinets in alternative neutrals like black, cream, and grey, along with colorful options like green and blue. Also popular? Wood cabinets in stains like warm chestnut and fruitwood.
Two-tone kitchen cabinets remain a homeowner favorite, as well. To incorporate this trend, try pairing darker lower cabinets with lighter upper cabinets or a colorful kitchen island with neutral-colored perimeter cabinets.
Swapping upper kitchen cabinets for open shelves continues to be a popular choice in 2019. It’s a cost-effective update that can make a kitchen feel larger and brighter. However, it’s not a practical option for everyone. Before you commit, test it out by removing your cabinet doors for a few weeks. See how it feels to have your glasses and dishware on display.
Not ready to give up all your upper cabinet storage space? Replace just one or two upper cabinets with open shelves for a lower-commitment but still-updated look.
The ubiquitous white subway tile is finally fading in popularity. In 2019, homeowners are gravitating toward more colorful choices, creative textures and finishes, and alternative shapes. Especially hot right now: hexagons, arabesques, diamonds, and Moroccan fish scales.
Natural stone remains a favorite, including marble, quartzite and river rock. But advancements in porcelain tile that mimics stone, and even concrete, has made it an attractive, affordable, and low-maintenance alternative.
Once an afterthought, ceilings are taking center stage. While 2018 was all about statement walls, statement ceilings are shaping up to be the darling of 2019. Designers are using bold paint colors, wallpaper, intricate moldings, fabric, and other materials to transform a ceiling into something truly special.
Want to incorporate this trend without going too bold? Choose a classic design, like coffered or wooden beams. Or stick with wood paneling or tin tiles for a more timeless look. Even something as simple as painting a ceiling the same color as the walls can make your space feel more modern.
DESIGNED TO SELL
Are you contemplating a remodel? Want to find out how upgrades could impact the value of your home? Give us a call for a free consultation!
Buyer preferences can vary greatly by neighborhood and price range. We can share the insights we’ve gathered from working with buyers in this market … and offer tips on how to maximize the return on your remodeling investment. And if you’re in the market to sell, we can run a Comparative Market Analysis on your home to find out how it compares to others in the area.
Want to learn more about how to stage your home to sell? Contact us at [insert preferred method] to request a free copy of our report: 10 Staging Secrets From the Pros for a Quick Sale at Top Dollar!
When you’re shopping for (or selling) a home, it’s normal to wonder why one home is priced five or six figures higher or lower than another home on the same block. Some factors that influence a home’s value are obvious, but what about the price influencers that are a little less obvious and more difficult to measure?
HouseCanary examined five “hidden” factors that can have an impact on home value:
We controlled for other value influencers, such as location, lot size, gross living area (square footage), and more, so we could isolate the effect of these hidden factors. And we found that the relative importance of these factors can vary widely according to where the home is located.
The view angle calculates the maximum angle (in degrees) that opens up to scenery or nature from your backyard. The degrees measured are 0 to 180, showing the maximum angle of scenery viewable from your backyard, with 0 indicating that there is no scenic view at all from your backyard, and 180 indicating that the view is scenic from every angle.
The frontage length is the length (in feet) of the street-facing side of the home’s lot. It doesn’t always correlate perfectly with lot size because not all lots are square, but it indicates the amount of curb-facing home relative to other homes in the area—and believe it or not, homes with more curb to appeal do tend to have more curb appeal in some parts of the country.
Most home buyers in the U.S. not only want a nice view from the backyard, but they also don’t want someone else’s nice view to include their home or yard. The angle of backyard exposure to neighbors is a measurement of how easily neighbors can see into a home and backyard, thus potentially mitigating privacy. It’s also measured in degrees from 0 to 180, with 0 indicating no exposure at all of your backyard or home to neighbors, and 180 indicating total exposure.
How private is a home, and how much will that matter when it comes time to sell? We examined backyard exposure to neighbors, backyard slope, distance to neighbors, home density, and other metrics to determine a privacy score and show how much privacy matters in different parts of the country.
Would you prefer your backyard to slope up or slope down? This is a factor that many buyers value, although they might not be able to verbalize it. We found that homes with downhill-sloping backyards tend to be more desirable.
Still, this doesn’t necessarily mean that homes with flat yards are neutral or undesirable; flat yards are more desirable than yards that slope uphill. But it does mean that slope matters in a lot of the country, most notably counties in Minnesota and Indiana, both states that contain a mixture of mountains or rolling hills and flat terrain. And the backyard slope trend is more pronounced in Seattle than Los Angeles, which are both hilly metro areas, suggesting that perhaps Seattleites spend more time on their back decks looking at the cityscape than Angelenos do.
It is just absolutely impossible (and foolish) to predict the stock market. And when it starts to drop, your hands are tied. You don’t have options.
And who knows when it will stop? Ask 5 investing “experts,” and you will get at least 5 different answers.
What is much easier to anticipate are real estate returns. You have much more control over how the story ends.
If you’re buying property to rent out, you control who lives there. You either choose them yourself, or you delegate that decision making to someone you trust. If that person doesn’t perform, you can choose to remove them and get another person in there. Your hands aren’t tied. And if renting doesn’t work out for you, you can choose to sell the property. You have options.
If you are purchasing property to fix and flip, you control who does the work, what finishes are installed, and the timeline for the project, for the most part. And if the market changes during the course of your rehab, you can choose to rent it out until the market corrects itself. Your hands aren’t tied. You have options.
Real estate is an excellent way to diversify your portfolio for several reasons:
There will always be a strong demand for rental properties, whether temporary or long-term, provided you choose the right area. Not everyone has the desire or the means to own their own property. Since the 2008 crash—caused in large part by shady lending practices—loan requirements have tightened considerably. It’s a lot more difficult to get a loan, and not everyone can qualify through the new, stricter rules, even if they can afford the monthly payments.
Owning $200,000 in Apple stock will give you an annual dividend of around $3,400. If you abide by the 1% rule (and you should), owning a $200,000 rental property will give you $24,000 of income annually. Also, will Apple still be around in 20 years? Maybe, but I’ll bet your rental still will be.
Real estate has its ups and downs, just like everything else. But almost every local market, over time, trends up. Historically, the 2008 crash was an anomaly because it was caused by real estate itself.
Yes, there will always be pockets of land that don’t follow the trend—Detroit immediately comes to mind. Detroit has been steadily losing population since its 1960s heyday. Property values cannot go up when population goes down, and Detroit is down by more than half. However…
As more and more people inhabit this planet, land will become more and more precious. Granted, this isn’t a huge dilemma currently—the world has many places where you can go miles without seeing another human or anything remotely related to civilization. But the most popular areas will continue to grow, and land is becoming more and more precious in many parts of the world.
If you’re a property investor in the United States, you have an extra advantage. Lots of folks from around the world see value in owning American property. It isn’t unusual for Canadians, Chinese or Middle Easterners to buy property here in the states. They realize that the stability and strong American economy makes it a great place to invest.
If you have a Margin Account, you can use leverage to buy your stocks. But the most you can borrow is 50% of the stock purchase price. Not every stock is marginable, either.
Real estate is up to 100% leveragable, using a mortgage to purchase your property. One hundred percent financing is usually available for owner-occupants—investments are more typically 75%-80% financed—but a far larger percentage of the purchase price can be financed than with stocks and other investments.
Real estate is a solid way to invest in your future and your retirement. A diversified portfolio can help guard against losses when one another asset class loses value. Unlike other investments, real estate can return money over the lifespan of the asset. It’s kind of a no-brainer.
Here’s what happens after you receive your preapproval letter and decide to move forward with the purchase. The lender will start your file, give you a list of paperwork required, order an appraisal and credit reports, verify your employment and income, and more.
The file is then sent to the processor who will review all of your information as well as the appraisal. He or she will then put together a package of all pertinent information to be sent to the underwriter.
The underwriter is the person who ultimately determines whether or not you are an acceptable credit risk. He or she will assess your ability to repay the loan, your credit, and the collateral used to secure the mortgage – in this case the collateral is the home. Then, just before funding the loan, the underwriter will perform what is known as a “soft pull” of your credit information to see if anything has changed.
This is the point where many borrowers run afoul. If you hope to keep your purchase alive, don’t do anything – from application to closing – that might change your financial picture and sabotage your final approval. This means no shopping on credit for appliances, furniture or anything else. Don’t switch jobs, fall behind on your bills, co-sign a loan for anyone, or in any way reduce the income stated on your application.
2. Read Homeowners Association Documents Carefully
When you purchase a home in a managed community governed by a homeowners association (HOA), you’ll be given a mountain of paperwork to read and approve. Because there may be deal killers included in the fine print, it’s important to get to this task immediately upon receipt of the documents.
Look for any information about liens against the property; current litigation against the HOA, the builder, or the developer; and any red flags in the HOA budget. Since these documents aren’t easy to read and understand, it is worth the money you’ll spend to have your attorney look them over and advise you of any potential deal killers lurking within.
While the aforementioned HOA problems could potentially derail the deal, it’s better to have it happen upfront rather than when you’re further along in the process.
3. Home Inspection Problems
All homes – even newly constructed ones – may have problems. Going into the process not fully understanding this can set you up for a failed real estate deal. Sure, you ideally want to find a home that was owned by Mr. or Mrs. Clean who conscientiously took care of it during their entire ownership, but those are few and far between, and seeking them out is unrealistic.
Set your sites on finding a home that has small, easy-to-fix problems, and don’t freak out if some are worse than others. In other words, when considering making an offer, laugh at the loose doorknob but negotiate when it comes to water damage or worse.
The nitpicky homebuyer, who plans on nickel and diming the homeowner into replacing missing switch plates and dripping faucets, is the picture of a deal-breaker-in-the-making. Sure, in a buyer’s market you may get away with minor demands. In a seller’s market, however, there is always a cleaner offer right behind yours.
4. Budgeting Blunders
The real estate industry does a bang-up job of reminding homebuyers that they’ll need a down payment – typically from 3 percent to 20 percent of the total loan amount – when they purchase a home. What they often fail to inform real estate consumers about are the loan’s closing costs – the money you will be required to pay before the house is yours. This is most likely because closing costs are a little harder to pin down. They vary wildly and depend on the type of loan, the amount of the down payment, and a host of other factors.
Unfortunately, this lack of information frequently causes real estate deals to disintegrate. To avoid this particular problem, pay attention to all communications from your lender.
First, you will receive a form called a Loan Estimate. Look this over carefully to ensure that everything your lender agreed to is included. Pay close attention to the “Calculating Cash to Close” section, which concludes with an estimated cost to close the loan. Remember, this is an estimate and the amount may go higher or lower in the end. Speak with the lender if you find any problems here, especially if it will be impossible for you to come up with this money.
Just before closing you will receive the “Closing Disclosure,” which is quite similar to the estimate, but these figures are final. Again, review the “Cash to Close” figure.
By and large, real estate deals conclude successfully. Typically, it all comes down to the experience of your agent. Choose wisely and you’ll avoid the common pitfalls that can derail transactions. For a smooth, low-stress real estate transaction, slow down, keep your expectations realistic and heed the advice of your real estate agent or attorney.
If you are ready to start your buying or selling process
give us a call at 360-461-1282 - We´re happy to answer all your questions.