1. Hire an appraiser,
2. Hire a real estate agent specifically for a "broker price opinion" Clearly explaining that you are paying a one time fee for the BPO service and they should have no expectation of a future listing opportunity, or other commission as a result of the evaluation.
3. Take the training that an appraiser gets, view hundreds of houses, pour over the tax assessor and MLS Data for the comparables for each of your homes.
Or you could use on online calculator such as Zillow which will give you an estimate which may or may not be particularly accurate. But if you have no need of accuracy, it is fun to do.
I am sure that you might be able to find some data in the internet but I know that the Real Estate Industry spent countless research hours to develop a system to acurately determine the FMV of properties. If you want the highest value for your property then you may want to consult a Realtor. Some Real Estate Firms could charge a small fee or even perform this service for free.
I hope this helps,
Put in your ZIP code, this will give you the trends. Then take the cursor to "homes" in the drop-down menue at the top of the page and click on "recent home sales" Get the criteria as close to yours as you can, and you will have your camparable homes.
There are three primary types of value:
First is Book Value. An insurance company might use the same type of valuation- what might it cost to rebuild your home, part of that is the "worth" of the property as a whole..
The second is Appraised Value. Appraised value is based on closed sales in your area, and also includes neighborhood statistics and trends. Because the heaviest weight is towards closed sales, the data is always dated by five months or so, depending upon your market. So if the market is trending downward, closed sales might give a price that is higher than the value. If the market is going up, this method might understate the value. Appraisals are used by lenders primarily.
Then you have Fair Market Value. This is the price that an able and willing buyer will pay, knowing the market and actively searching for a home. And of course you have to agree to the price too!
Depending upon the need for the value, select the right person to help you. Because real estate
has a value that is derived from many variables, it's more art than science.
You have several options open to you to determine your property's current value. Some of them require a lot of leg work on your part. I would still recommend you consider asking a Realtor for a CMA - Comparitive Market Analysis - is what we call it in Nevada.
Also, you need to know that one of the suggestions submitted to you from another source was to obtain a BPO - Broker Price Opinion. I would make sure you investigate that area before you employ that route. In Nevada, Realtors can only do a BPO and get paid if it is done in conjunction with the expectation of a listing. We are not allowed to accept compensation for a BPO from any source be it the consumer or a lender. This is a hot topic now with the National Association of Realtors. So, I would not recommend a BPO to you as the Realtor may be expecting a listing. Listings are not expected, here, when a Seller requests a CMA.
If you are just "information gathering" as to the value of your home, then the online sources or an appraiser are available to you and should be adequate info. However, if you are anticipating to sell, then I would like to see you consult a Realtor. In this challenging market, it is imperative that you initially list for a price that will attract buyers and immediately defuse the competition.. Otherwise, you get into the price reduction cycle and the listing becomes stale.
You could hire an appraiser; however, an appraisal does not tell you what a ready, willing, and able buyer will pay for you home and they do not tell you how to strategically price your home for proper positioning. I have seen pricing appraisals come in higher than where a property should be priced to compete and win. If you go with an appraisal I would request that they appraise your home as if you had a contract and the bank requested the appraisal... that is going to be your most accurate appraisal number.
I am assuming that you do not want to go through an agent because your perception is that you will get a salesperson versus data. Although that may be the case with some agents, there are many agents that would be more than happy to assist you without a single string attached. If they do not respect your wish to not be sold to then you will know to scratch them off your list when you do decide to sell. An active agent in your area is really the best person to contact.