Where Can I Find Housing
A real estate agent is a good source for finding out
the status of the local housing market. So is your statewide
association of Realtors, most of which are continuously compiling
such statistics from local real estate boards.
housing statistics, U.S. Housing Markets regularly publishes
quarterly reports on home building and home buying. Your local
builders association probably gets this report. If not, the housing
research firm is located in Canton, Mich.; call (800) 755-6269 for
information; the firm also maintains an Internet site. Finally,
check with the U.S. Bureau of the Census in Washington, D.C.; (301)
495-4700. The census bureau also maintains a site on the Internet.
The Chicago Title company also has published a pamphlet, "Who's
Buying Homes in America." Write Chicago Title and Trust Family of
Title Insurers, 171 North Clark St., Chicago, IL 60601-3294.
How Is a
Home's Value Determined?
You have several ways to determine the value of a
An appraisal is a professional estimate of a property's
market value, based on recent sales of comparable properties,
location, square footage and construction quality. This service
varies in cost depending on the price of the home. On average, an
appraisal costs about $300 for a $250,000 house.
A comparative market analysis is an informal
estimate of market value performed by a real estate agent based on
similar sales and property attributes. Most agents offer free
analyses in the hopes of winning your business.
You also can get a comparable sales report for a fee
from private companies that specialize in real estate data or find
comparable sales information available on various real estate
What Is the
Difference Between Market Value and Appraised Value?
The appraised value of a house is a certified
appraiser's opinion of the worth of a home at a given point in time.
Lenders require appraisals as part of the loan application process;
fees range from $200 to $300.
Market value is what price the
house will bring at a given point in time. A comparative market
analysis is an informal estimate of market value, based on sales of
comparable properties, performed by a real estate agent or broker.
Either an appraisal or a comparative market analysis is the most
accurate way to determine what your home is worth.
What Standards Do
Appraisers Use to Estimate Value?
Appraisers use several factors when estimating a
home's value, including the home's size and square footage, the
condition of the home and neighborhood, comparable local sales, any
pertinent historical information, sales performance and indices that
forecast future value. For detailed information on appraisal
standards, contact the Appraisal Institute at 875 N. Michigan Ave.,
Suite 2400, Chicago, IL 60611-1980; (312) 335-4458.
A home ultimately is worth what someone will pay for
it. Everything else is an estimate of value. To determine a
property's value, most people turn to either an appraisal or a
comparative market analysis.
An appraisal is a certified
appraiser's estimate of the value of a home at a given point in
time. Appraisers consider square footage, construction quality,
design, floor plan, neighborhood and availability of transportation,
shopping and schools. Appraisers also take lot size, topography,
view and landscaping into account. Most appraisals cost about
A comparative market analysis is a real estate
broker's or agent's informal estimate of a home's market value,
based on sales of comparable homes in a neighborhood. Most agents
will give you a comparative market analysis for free.
You can do your own cost comparison by looking up
recent sales of comparable properties in public records. These
records are available at local recorder or assessor offices, through
private real estate information companies or on the Internet.
Ways to Determine My Home's Value?
A comparative market analysis and an appraisal are
the standard methods for determining a home's value.
estate agent will be happy to provide a comparative market analysis,
an informal estimate of value based on comparable sales in the
neighborhood. Be sure you get listing prices of current homes on the
market as well as those that have sold. You also can research this
yourself by checking on recent sales in public records. Be sure that
you are researching properties that are similar in size,
construction and location. This information is not only available at
your local recorder's or assessor's office but also through private
companies and on the Internet.
An appraisal, which generally costs $200 to $300 to
perform, is a certified appraiser's opinion of the value of a home
at any given time. Appraisers review numerous factors including
recent comparable sales, location, square footage and construction
Neighbor Problem Reduce My Property Value?
While it may not reduce the actual value, a
cluttered landscape next door can detract from the positive aspects
of your home. Review your local laws, which should be on file at the
public library, county law library or City Hall.
A typical "junk
vehicle" ordinance, for example, requires any disabled car to either
be enclosed or placed behind a fence. And most cities prohibit
parking any vehicle on a city street too long. It also may be
worthwhile to check into local zoning ordinances. An operator of a
home-based business usually is required to obtain a variance or
permanent zoning change in residential areas.
In addition, if a neighbor's repair work produces
loud noises, he may be breaking local noise-control ordinances,
which are enforced by the police department.
Before bringing in the authorities, you may want to
make a copy of the pertinent ordinance and give it to your neighbor
to give them a chance to correct the problem.
How Can I Increase the
Value of My Property?
The biggest factor that can affect property value —
market conditions — are outside of your control. But other factors —
including the condition of the property, certain home improvements
and neighborhood stability and safety — are not.
specific home improvements can increase your property value above
the cost of the improvements themselves, such as remodeling a
kitchen, adding a bathroom, finishing a basement or upgrading
landscaping. Just be sure that quality pays with remodeling. A bad
remodeling job will do little to boost your property value.
If you live in a high-crime area, an organized
community watch program not only will lower the crime rate but can
enhance property values, too. It also helps to live in an area where
other homeowners are upgrading their homes, which can help pull up
your property value, too.
The bottom line is to measure the cost of any
improvements you want to make against the overall values in your
neighborhood. If you over-improve for the neighborhood, you may not
necessarily recover your costs or boost your property value