In recent years, a proliferation of online resources has emerged to provide you with an answer — an estimated answer — before you ever actually consult a human. But while homeowners have access to more information than they could have dreamed of a decade ago, that doesn’t mean you can expect a computer or smartphone to deliver the final word on your home’s value.
Whether you are punching your address into an online estimate tool or getting a detailed report from an appraiser or realtor, the results can be different every time.
As Stan Humphries, chief analytics officer for Zillow, which pioneered the practice of estimating and publishing home values in 2006, says, “If you sold your home 100 different times with different buyers and sellers, it would close at a different price.”
Computers and humans may disagree, for example, about which recently sold homes are truly comparable and how significantly recent updates add value to a property. Plus, when it comes time to do the deal, the negotiation skills of agents may come into play.
That means if you are looking at estimates for your home’s value, you have to consider what kind of data went into that estimate. If your home is unique compared with others in the neighborhood, for example, the choice of “comps,” or comparable homes, would be a challenge to find. Your estimate may also be less accurate than if you lived in a neighborhood where all the homes are similar. If there have been lots of recent home sales in your area, there is going to be more data to work with and therefore you’ll get a more accurate estimate.
The representatives of all seven online resources below stress that their numbers are merely estimates, based on the available data plus a number of assumptions about comparable sales. While all the services throw out a number for the home’s estimated value, most provide a range of values, which sometimes gets overlooked by consumers who focus on the number in big type.
Here are seven online tools you can use to help estimate the current estimated value of your home:
Zillow: This is the pioneer of the home value estimating tool, and the company continues to refine how it arrives at its Zestimates.
Redfin: This tool shows you photos and listing information for the exact comps used to arrive at the value of your home.
eppraisal.com: This site uses data from public records and lists homes sold recently nearby.
Bank of America: This tool shows comparable neighboring sales on a map. It provides only a range of values, not a single number.
Chase: This tool allows you to change the information about the house to arrive at a more precise estimate, plus provides information on recently sold homes and neighborhood trends. You can also use it to estimate the value of improvements you’re considering.
realtor.com: The My Home tool allows you to track a variety of information about your property, including the home value, displayed to you as a graph to see its progress over time.
ForSaleByOwner.com: This site’s Pricing Scout tool gives you the average of a regression analysis and a comparative market analysis to estimate the worth of your home. It also shows recent sales of comparable properties on a map. You have to register to use it.
You will see that the information you get can be so shockingly different that you will need to get help from a realtor or a full appraisal on your home to get a more realistic idea of its value. For example, here is research we did for a three-bedroom, three-bath house on double lot in Kansas City, MO (where the houses vary dramatically in size and condition so many, many variables):
Redfin: Not available
Bank of America: $111,921 to $142,282
This is a great place to start and we are the perfect second step. Give us a call and we’ll help you though every phase of selling your home.