Selling your home is a big decision. But once you’re ready to make the move, nothing can break your stride.
Except the market value of your home.
Yep, that pesky number has stopped many a seller in their tracks over the past several years. So how do you know for sure what your home is worth? It’s as easy as 1-2-3!
A Home Value Primer
Before we dig into the steps, let’s take a moment to define true market value. In a nutshell, market value is what buyers are willing to pay for your home. It has nothing to do with your mortgage statement—or how many special memories you’ve built there.
Of course, if you search online, you’re bound to find all sorts of values for your home out there. Many of these estimates generate automatically based on public information like tax records, sales history, and comparable sales. Sounds great . . . until you realize that your home’s unique features and overall condition were never part of the equation.
Clearly, these figures aren’t a reliable measure of your home’s actual market value. But that doesn’t make them worthless. Let’s explore one way you can use websites like Zillow to your advantage.
Step 1: Test the Temperature
If you search for your address on Zillow, you’ll find a line graph on your home’s feature page. This handy tool provides a snapshot of market ups and downs.
Look for the solid blue line. It represents your home’s estimated value. Track its overall movement, doing your best to ignore the figures associated with it.
Does your estimated home value trend upward or downward?
How does it compare to your city (green dotted line) and ZIP code (blue dotted line)?
If values across the board show consistent growth, that’s a good sign that your market’s heating up!
Step 2: Survey the Landscape
For a quick view of how homes are moving and shaking near you, use Zillow’s map feature to expand your search. Pay attention to these three things:
Foreclosures: Foreclosure rates have dropped dramatically over the past few years, so they shouldn’t be a huge worry. But keep an eye out for any neighboring foreclosures that could put a dent in your home value.
Current listings: Want a sneak peek at your competition? Check out what’s for sale around you to see how they’re priced. Just keep in mind that current listings generally reflect what sellers hope to bank from the sale and not necessarily what buyers will pay.
Recently sold homes: Completed sales provide better insight into actual market conditions. Look for homes with similar features and square footage in your neighborhood. If they’ve fetched healthy prices over the past six months, it might be a great time to break out the For Sale sign.
Step 3: Get Specific
If all signs point to go, you’re ready to hone in on the perfect price for your home. As we mentioned, you’ll find all sorts of values for your home floating around the internet. But getting a clear picture? That comes from a pro.
Here’s why: A real estate agent doesn’t pull stale information from the shelf. They use the power of human intelligence to compare your home’s nitty-gritty details with recent sales and current listings.
Let’s say you installed a new roof last year, but your kitchen’s straight from the ‘70s. An experienced agent knows how to weigh those factors against the rest of the market to determine a competitive price for your home.
No computer can do that—and your success as a seller rides on it.
Price your home too high, and buyers will pass you up without ever stepping through the door. Price it too low, and you could lose thousands of dollars. The right price gets you the most money in the least amount of time.
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