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What's My Home's Value?

House PriceI’m always running into people in San Francisco that want to know what their home is worth.  It’s usually at a party after a glass of wine, and while there are some party tricks I can perform, an off the cuff evaluation of your property isn’t one of them.  To give you a property evaluation, I need to see your home, its views, its layout, its fixtures, its conditions, and THEN I can provide you with an honest and complete home evaluation.
The New York Times recently ran an article about sellers getting serious about selling their homes.
It talked a lot about both the subjective value of your property (what you think it’s worth) as well as the objective value (what recent sales indicate it’s worth) and the California Association of Realtors left readers with a few tips:

  • REALTORS® and real estate appraisers are the best sources of information on current market conditions.  Consumers should begin the home valuation process by consulting with their REALTOR® or a local real estate appraiser.  REALTORS® can provide homeowners with a list of homes that recently have sold in the area, and use that data to help determine the most accurate and competitive price for the home.
  • Homeowners also can contact their local tax assessor’s or county clerk’s office, many of which post real estate transactions on their Web site.  The records will indicate what properties have recently sold in the neighborhood and the respective sales prices.  Consumers should look for homes that have sold within the last six months for a more accurate picture of current market conditions.
  • Online sites such as and also provide free online home value estimators.  Consumers should be aware though that these sites derive some of their information from public records, including tax appraisals, and are subject to error.
  • Some real estate experts recommend homeowners attend nearby open houses to see how their homes compare in size and amenities.  Consumers also can consult the Marshall & Swift Residential Cost Handbook, which professional appraisers use to assess the value of features such as fireplaces, three-car garages, and the like.  The handbook costs $300 and is available in some business school libraries.  An online site,, enables homeowners to conduct an item-by-item calculation of the value of the home.  Online sites and books only should be used as guidelines though, and homeowners are advised to contact a real estate professional to help determine the current value of their home.