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2012-04-26 10:14:41
Are online home value estimates accurate?

We have all jumped on Zillow.com or another site at one time to see what our home is worth and we obsess when it says our value has gone up or down. The problem with online home value estimates is that they can be close or way off on value. Online estimates do not really account for the condition or special features of your home and are sometimes based off incorrect information regarding size, bedrooms or bathrooms. Estimated values are also less accurate in rural areas or markets with little sales activity, and often in high value markets where home prices vary greatly based on amenities and construction quality.

The only real way to know what your home is actually worth is to sell it on the open market. The true definition of market value is what price a buyer, not under duress would pay for a home and what a seller, not under duress would agree to sell for. A great real estate agent or broker can usually give a good estimate of value by finding the most similar active listings and recent sales in your market area. Even appraisals will vary. If you order two appraisals for one home, most of the time the values will be different because they are based on opinions, not just market data.

In the past I worked for a loan servicer as a real estate valuation analyst and have seen first hand how far off online estimated values can be. When you go online for an estimated home value, think of it more as a range of value and of course, contact a real estate agent or broker if you need an accurate estimated market value.

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