But even if you are not thinking of selling, it can be helpful to have a third-party estimate of value.
Some people like to track their home value from year-to-year so they can stay on top of all their options (should they sell, refinance, remodel, or sit tight?). We routinely check clients’ home values each year when we prepare their net worth reports.
And of course, to see if your ratios qualify you for a refinance, you’ll need to compare the amount of your mortgage with the approximate value of your home.
Here’s a suggestion from Consumer Reports Money Advisor that takes no more than a minute or two:
- Plug your address into both Trulia and Zillow and average the results of the two services for a reasonable “guesstimate” of your home’s value.
According to Consumer Reports, both Trulia and Zillow aggregate data from several sources, including Multiple Listing Services, to estimate your home’s value based on what other homes in the area have sold for, then apply other “proprietary” formulas to come up with a unique value.
The two don’t always agree. In fact, it’s not uncommon for the two estimates to be tens of thousands of dollars apart on values.
These market value estimates aren’t perfect since they don’t take into account the actual condition and amenities in your home, and may be off in measuring square footage due to tax roll errors, but they can be handy when you want a rough idea of neighborhood trends and values.
Remember that for tax or mortgage purposes, you’ll need an actual appraisal to establish value, and if you’re planning to put your home up for sale, your realtor’s opinion is the most valuable.