WGN-TV Show Notes – October 21, 2004

With the price of homes skyrocketing in Chicago, you might be wondering if it’s time to cash in and sell yours. But how much is your house really worth?

Chicagoans have long considered real estate a spectator sport, but with the way home prices have been appreciating in the metro area over the past five years, the game has gotten a lot more serious. But how much is your home really worth? It could be more or less than you think.

With property prices still skyrocketing at double digit levels in some city and suburban neighborhoods, it’s all too easy to look at what your neighbor sold his house for and count your paper profits. But that’s not enough for some homeowners, who want to know the real numbers from the comfort of their own computers.

To calculate your home’s value, start your search on the web at domania.com. Put in an address and the website will spit back what it thinks your property is worth. The nice thing about www.domania.com is that the property value search is free. But the site doesn’t have comprehensive data for all neighborhoods, so for some properties, nothing will turn up.

This week, credit reporting bureau equifax launched its home valuator product. Using home sales data from secondary mortgage market lender Freddie Mac, the home valuator gives a range of possible values for your home. It also includes detailed — and useful — information like the property’s current tax bill, square footage, and some amenities. The home valuator costs $4.95 for each address that’s searched, but when we tested it out, it missed the actual sales price of a property by a whopping $200,000. What happened?

“I think the danger is that it’s not taking in all aspects of your house. They’re just giving you a broad market view of the value of the house without taking in specifics: the character of your house, the finishes, the things you’ve done to personalize your house and give it some value,” says Marlene Saint-George, Baird & Warner agent.

If getting an accurate home value on the internet seems like it’s a hit or miss, you might want to try the personal touch. Consider inviting three real estate agents into your home to do a comparative marketing analysis.

“They’re looking at all the aspects of your house. They bring comparable sales in the neighborhood and/or in the apartment building, and compare them and giving you a fair estimation of the price of what they think the public is willing to pay for this house,” Saint-George says.

Not only will an agent be the most accurate source of information on what your property is worth, a comparative marketing analysis is free.

This week, the Cook County Recorder of Deeds, Eugene Moore announced a new website that will allow you to search all the documents associated with a property going back to 1985, including sales data.

RESOURCES

www.equifax.com

www.domania.com

www.bairdandwarner.com

Cook County Recorder of Deeds

Copyright © 2004, WGN-TV

Oct. 21, 2004.