Whether you’re about to enter into a search for a new home, or just want to make informed decisions about the value of the home you currently live in, you may be wondering what's my home worth? Fortunately, there are many great home value estimator tools available to help you to determine the approximated worth of your property. Our website boasts our own home value estimator, which is a great starting point in determining your home's price. It doesn’t hurt to get a second or third opinion, however, by working with an industry professional who knows the market. Although each of the options provided below uses different methods to determine their estimates, when viewed in aggregate you can get a strong estimate of a home value in the DC Metro Area.
There are also different types of home value estimators to consider, each with their own pros and cons. Many online estimates have the benefit of being available to you free of charge so that you can access many different reports and estimates for the property in question. In-person assessments, on the other hand, carry the cost of paying a professional to carry them out, but they can also provide more accurate and actionable information due to the more thorough nature. To find a home value in the Greater DC Metro area, a combination of both online and in-person estimates is often your best bet, narrowing your options with online tools before relying on a pro before the sale.
The Zillow “Zestimate”
One of the two major online home value estimate tools, Zillow is considered the more seller friendly option, as it tends to have higher estimated values for the homes listed on it. Zillow uses a secret algorithm which helps to create a “Zestimate” on the value of the home. While it is not officially known what factors are used in the estimate, it is commonly accepted that a large portion of estimates comes based on prior sales data and information on other sales around the home with similar amenities.
As with Zillow, Redfin uses its own proprietary algorithm in order to determine an estimated home value. Washington DC and surrounding areas have many great homes listed on Redfin, and the numbers provided by the Redfin estimate are often more friendly to those who are searching for a home, with values on average being lower than those of the “Zestimate” guesses. Redfin also makes use of a “Hot Home” feature which gives increased prominence to listings which are seeing a great deal of traffic. Although page clicks may not directly translate to value, they are a good indicator of interest and likely competition.
Creating a Good Online Estimate
Although you should never count on just one online estimate for a home valuation, by checking out multiple different sites you can get a good idea of the value of the home. The easiest way to do so is add up the values from the different sites then divide by the number of sites to find an average value. By combining multiple sites together you improve the likelihood of getting an accurate result, as you are less likely to be thrown off by an algorithm on one site missing something. If you find a result from one of the online listings which is vastly different, you may want to consider removing it before averaging in order to get a more accurate home value in the DC Metro Area.
The Importance of a Home Appraisal
While online estimates are fine for sating your curiosity, when ownership is trading hands, they’re not enough. Whether you’re buying or selling in Washington DC, Bethesda, or Silver Spring, house worth must be assessed by a professional in order to get a true home value. The DC Metro Area is a booming real estate destination, but you can’t make good decisions without good information. An appraisal is carried out by an unbiased professional who has no stake in a high or low value, so you can trust that the number they come back with is as accurate as possible.
If you are applying for financing for your home, it is likely that an in-person appraisal will be required by your lending agent. When you receive a mortgage, the home serves as collateral for the loan, so it’s in the lender’s best interest to make sure that you are not borrowing more than it is worth or else the bank could be out of luck in the event of default. Your appraiser will perform a visual inspection of the entire home, inside and outside, as well as note the home’s amenities. By combining this information with data on similar sales which have occurred, they come up with the most accurate possible estimated home value a Metro DC home buyer could ask for.
Despite the importance of a professionally determined value, it's always nice to get a sense of things on your own as you consider your options. If you’re in the market to buy or sell your home, please do not hesitate to contact us here at The Washingtonian Group — we’d love to help in any way we can!