If you’re wondering how to determine home values, start here.

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? How can you determine your home value?

How much is your home 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.

Zillow’s Zestimate can help determine home values

To calculate your home’s value, start your search on the web at Zillow. Put in an address and the website will spit back what it thinks your property is worth. The nice thing about Zillow is that the property value search is free. The site offers comprehensive data for all neighborhoods, across the country. But the value of all homes might not be completely accurate. 

Are Zestimates accurate? Not always

According to Zillow, a Zestimate is only as accurate as the data behind it. There are still some counties in the country that have not digitized home data, or don’t update it regularly. Zillow says its estimate might be off by quite a lot:

“The nationwide median error rate for the Zestimate for on-market homes is 1.9%, while the Zestimate for off-market homes has a median error rate of 7.5%. This means that the Zestimates for half of all on-market homes are within 2% of the selling price, and half are not.” 

Do appraisals accurately pinpoint home value?

Some homeowners hire appraisers to tell them what their home value is. But this can cost anywhere from $400 to more than $1,000. While accurate, real estate industry experts say you should only pay for an appraiser if you are really uncertain as to the value of the property or if you are applying for a loan and the lender requires it.

“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.

Comparative Marketing Analysis (CMA) can pinpoint home value

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.

Read more about how to determine home value

Home Value: How Much is My Home Worth?

First-Time Buyer Homes Out of Reach

WGN-TV Show Notes – October 21, 2004

Oct. 21, 2004. Updated May 20, 2022