The most valuable thing about your home is also the hardest thing to measure. It's the memories. All those blown-out birthday candles and childhood pranks, all the games of hide and seek in the backyard and all the laughs and love shared over a holiday feast – these things mean the world to you. But they won't mean a thing to a buyer who's looking for a place to make memories of their own. So how can you determine the value of your home in dollars and cents? You'll have to put your emotions aside for a moment and rely on some time-tested tools instead.
Put on your buyer's hat. A great way to get a ballpark idea of your true market value is to compare your home with those in your area. Play the buyer and search real estate listing sites for similar properties. Many allow you to narrow your results by square footage, number of bedrooms and other amenities. When you find properties with similar stats, you'll start to get a feel for the average listing price of homes like yours. Take your search a step further and drive through your neighborhood to take stock of the properties for sale. Call the realtors and get the asking prices, then casually ask how long the homes have been on the market. This will help determine if the seller's price is too high and if you should shoot a little lower when you put your own home up for sale.
Try something taxing. Most of us view our property tax as a yearly nuisance, if not a storm of depression hiding out in a neat little envelope. But there is a silver lining: your tax assessment can be a clear clue to your home's market value. Contact your local assessor for a copy of your property assessment. Sometimes you can even access the data online without leaving your house. Not only will you get a better idea of your home's value, but you may even discover discrepancies that work to your advantage during tax season. It's a move that can save you money now and help you earn even more on sale day.
Enlist an expert. For the last word in home value, turn to the real estate investing experts – wholesale brokers and home appraisers. Though most people sell a house only once or twice in their lifetimes, these professionals value and sell homes every day. Why not use take advantage of that experience? Contact a wholesale broker for advice or representation in a sale, or hire an accredited appraiser for an official home appraisal. It's easy to feel as if you truly know your home – after all, you spend most of your life there – but these experts provide an unbiased eye. They'll see your home's true value.
The most important thing you can do for yourself when you're trying to put a value on your home is to set your emotions aside. Many sellers allow themselves to be swept away by the flood of emotions that come along with selling a property. After all, these homes aren't just buildings for storing furniture – they're the places where we invest our dreams. When the walls are papered with your very memories, it's hard to look at a home and see only a price tag. But that's just what you've got to do. Before you go with your gut and list your home for the price you think it deserves, take a few steps back and use these tools to get a clear view of your property value. You won't lose your memories, but you might just find a buyer.