You can easily check how much money you have in your bank accounts or see the real-time value of your stock investments, but figuring out the dollar value of your home is trickier.
As a potential seller, knowing your home’s worth will help you price it correctly when you decide to sell. As a buyer, it’s important to know a home’s worth before making an offer.
Even if you’re not looking to buy or sell a home in Mammoth Lakes, you might just be curious about the value of your home. Keeping track of your home’s worth year over year helps you see and understand trends in the Mammoth market. If you decide to sell, you’ll be able to take advantage of a window of opportunity.
This is one of the benefits of working with a Mammoth Lakes real estate agent. My education and local experience means I understand the nuances of your particular home, neighborhood, etc. I can help you determine the true market value of your property, but let’s start with the basics.
Three Types of Home Values
You’ve probably heard of “appraised value,” “assessed value” and “true market value.” It’s important to know the difference between all of these.
A professional appraiser determines the appraised value of a home. Appraisals are usually required by lenders when buyers are financing the property. And while the lender is the one that requires this info, the appraiser doesn’t work for the lender. Appraisers should be objective, licensed professionals who don’t have any allegiance to buyers, sellers or lenders.
The appraised value assures the lender that the buyer isn’t overpaying for the property. If a home is listed for $400,000 and the sale price is $375,000, but the appraiser determines the value is only $325,000, the lender won’t lend for a higher amount than the appraised value.
To figure out this number, appraisers compare your property to similar homes in the area and consider factors like location, square footage, appliances, upgrades, improvements, and the interior and exterior of the home.
The assessed value of your home is determined by your local municipal property assessor. In Mammoth Lakes, Mono County conducts these assessments. The lower your assessed value, the less property tax you’ll pay.
To determine the assessed value, the assessor looks at what comparable homes in your area have sold for and considers the size, age, overall condition and any improvements/upgrades of your home. However, most assessors don’t have full access to your home, so they have limited information.
Assessments are done annually to determine how much property tax you’ll owe. Some counties use a multiplier (usually 60-80%) to calculate the final assessed value. If the assessor determines the value of the home is $300,000, but the county uses a 70% multiplier, the assessed value of the home would be $210,000 for tax purposes.
If your assessed value isn’t where you think it should be, don’t worry. Many homeowners appeal their assessment for a lower valuation so they can save money on property taxes.
True Market Value
True market value is determined by your real estate agent. It refers to the value a buyer is willing to pay for your property. A good local real estate agent with hands-on experience buying and selling properties will understand the mindset of buyers in the Mammoth Lakes market and will know what they’ll pay for a house, townhouse or condo.
As a seller, it’s important to know your true market value to decide what to list your property for. It can also help you decide whether to do improvements before listing your home. Your agent can help you decide which updates and upgrades will have a big impact on your home’s value.
What’s the deal with online calculators?
You might be tempted to see what real estate sites like Zillow and Trulia say your home value is. But an online calculator is just an estimate. It’s not an appraisal or the true market value. These sites have their own algorithms, but they don’t take everything into account. Online estimates can sometimes be a good starting point to open up a conversation with your real estate agent about what your home is worth, but in resort areas like Mammoth Lakes, the online estimates can be very inaccurate.
Having a Mammoth Lakes real estate agent involved in the process is essential. We are showing properties in the area on a daily or weekly basis, and we know the preferences of local buyers and sellers.
How an Agent Finds Your Home’s True Market Value
I start with a comparative market analysis. In this process, I compare your home’s features to similar properties in the area. Here are a few things I factor in to assess home worth:
- Neighborhood sales – what similar, recently sold homes in your neighborhood sold for (and what they have in common with your home)
- The exterior – curb appeal, the style of the house/condo, yards and anything else that impacts how the home looks to someone walking or driving by
- The interior – everything inside the walls of the house, including square footage, how many bedrooms and bathrooms, and quality of appliances
- Age of the home
- Style of the home – if your home is a really desirable style for the Mammoth Lakes market, it’s likely to sell for a higher value
- Market trends – things like what’s going on with Mammoth Mountain, how the local economy is, etc.
- Location, location, location – in Mammoth Lakes, I’m looking for things like proximity to bus lines or chair lifts, surrounding home quality, etc.
Nothing beats the accuracy of an experienced real estate agent or a professional appraiser when it comes to determining your home’s true market value.
If you’re selling a Mammoth Lakes home, a local real estate agent can help you make sure you list it at the right price. For buyers, setting up a personalized home search on the MLS will help you see how homes are being priced.
Contact me if you’d like to get started.
If you liked this post, you might also like:
- National Snapshot: What’s Ahead for Real Estate
- How to Amp Up the Resale Value of Your Mammoth Lakes Home
- The Top 4 Home Selling Myths
Understanding a home’s true market value is about more than pictures, software assessments, and price-per-square-foot. Whether you’re a current homeowner thinking of selling or are house-hunting, it’s crucial you understand what factors affect home valuation. By partnering with a local market expert, sellers will avoid pricing their house out of the market (the kiss of death in real estate) and buyers will ensure they get a good deal on their next home.
So, how do you accurately calculate a home’s value? After all, the value of a home is assigned by its town or county and the one it’s given when it’s listed are often dramatically different from one another. Which one is accurate and what does it all mean? Read on to learn more.
Assessed Value vs Market Value: What’s the difference?
When it comes to home value, you’ll often hear two terms, assessed value and market value.
A home’s assessed value is often the lower number of the two and is the value given by your municipality or county. Investopedia defines assessed value as “the dollar value assigned to a property to measure applicable taxes.”1 Although property tax laws vary, assessors commonly arrive at this number by taking into account the following:
- What comparable/similar homes are selling for in your area.
- The value of recent improvements.
- Income from renting out a room or space on the property.
- How much it would cost to rebuild on the property.
A home’s market value, or Fair Market Value, is the price a buyer is willing to pay or a seller is willing to accept for a property. A skilled real estate professional will arrive at the value using a variety of metrics, including:
- External characteristics, such as lot size, home style, the condition of the home and curb appeal.
- Internal characteristics, such as the number of rooms and their size, the type and condition of the heating or HVAC system, the quality and condition of construction, the flow of the home, etc.
- The sales price of comparable homes that have sold in your area.
- Supply and demand; that is, how many buyers and sellers are in the area.
- Location; that is, the quality and desirability of your neighborhood and other community amenities.
Why are these values often so different? An assessor usually estimates your property’s market value during a reassessment or if you make a physical change or improvement to it.2 As a result, a property may not be reassessed for many years. While your home’s market value may fluctuate with the market, your home’s assessed value is more likely to remain steady.3
What Determines a Home’s Value?
You’ve likely heard the motto of real estate: “Location, location, location.” This means a home’s value relies on its location. While the home and structures on the property will likely depreciate over time, the land beneath it tends to appreciate. Why? Land is in limited supply and a growing population puts increased demand on the housing supply. As a result, values increase.4
Other factors that affect your home’s value include the function and appearance of the property, how well the home and other structures are maintained and whether the home is a lifestyle property, such as a ranch style with mountain views or beach bungalow.
Ultimately, the best indication of a home’s value is the overall supply and demand of the market. This is why we recommend you partner with a real estate professional who takes all of these factors—the assessed value, local market conditions, home features and has physically walked through and experienced your home— into consideration to determine the most accurate market value.
How to determine if a property is comparable to yours.
Both assessed value and market value are partially determined by the sales price of similar, or comparable, homes in the area. To determine if a home is comparable to yours, look for the following characteristics:
- Lot size
- Square footage
- Homestyle or similar architecture
While you may not find a home with the same exact characteristics as yours, you’ll likely find a few that are close. To account for any disparity, adjust the sales prices of the comparable properties. Look at the differences between your property and the one in question and determine if the differences increased or decreased the sales price and by how much. For example, if your home has two bathrooms and a similar home only has three, estimate how much that extra bathroom increased the sale price of the similar home. The adjusted sale price is the estimation of what the property would sell for if the properties were exactly the same.2
Where can you find comparable sales?
Fortunately, you can find comparable home sales in a variety of places.2
- Your local assessor’s office is able to provide a list of recent sales you can browse and compare or a sales history of a particular house, home style or neighborhood.
- Your municipality. Many cities keep local sales information in their offices or post it online.
- Online databases, such as a real estate database
- Your local newspapers may offer some real estate information in the form of quarterly sales reports in the business or real estate sections of the newspaper.
- Our office. We regularly do Comparable Market Analysis of homes in our local area. Use our Home Valuation inquiry form for your home.
How to calculate your home’s value.
By answering a few questions about your home, property and the local market, you can begin to estimate your property’s value. We’ve also included a worksheet for you below…
Home Value Questions:
- When was your home last assessed?
- What was its CMA assessment value?
- What is your area’s average sales price?
- What is your area’s average price/square foot?
- Is the architecture and exterior structure of the home consistent, superior or inferior to other homes in the area?
- Does the era or genre (Modern, Victorian, Ranch, Cottage, etc.) add a premium based on current design trends?
- How do the floor plan and room size proportions of the home compare to other homes on the market?
- How does the kitchen compare to others on the market?
- Updated or outdated
- Floor plan
- Appliance packages
- How does the Master Suite compare to others on the market?
- First/second floor
- Updated or outdated
- Access to Master Bath
- How does the Master Bath compare to others on the market?
- Updated or outdated
- Shower and bath
- Are there views, outdoor living areas or recreational areas?
- How do the landscaping and hardscaping compare to the market? (e.g., built elements such as walkways, patios, decks, etc.)
Overall Condition of Home
- What is the level of repair needed to compete with other homes?
- Does the home need to be staged? How does it show?
- What curb appeal projects are necessary to be consistent with others on the market?
Home Assessment Worksheet
If you want to accurately assess a home’s value, it’s crucial to know about the market activity of our local area. Sonja can help! Give her a call to get the scoop on the local market at 661-979-9000 or email her at [email protected].
Sources: 1. Investopedia http://www.investopedia.com/terms/a/assessedvalue.asp
- New York State Department of Taxation and Finance https://www.tax.ny.gov/pubs_and_bulls/orpts/mv_estimates.htm
- Realtor.com http://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/assessed-value-vs-market-value-difference/
- Investopedia, http://www.investopedia.com/articles/mortgages-real-estate/08/housing-appreciation.asp?lgl=myfinance-layout
Great curb appeal not only makes your home the star of the neighborhood, it can also improve its value and help you sell it for more. Whether you’re thinking of listing your home or just want to make your home the envy of your neighbors, here are several ways to increase your home’s curb appeal.
Make your home’s exterior look like new.
For many potential buyers, the condition of the exterior of a home can offer clues to the condition of the interior. The first place to start when boosting curb appeal is the exterior of your house.
- Paint. Paint is the best way to make your home appear newer. While you can paint your home yourself, if it’s large or more than one story, consider hiring a professional. Painting is a fairly inexpensive improvement with between 60 to 100 percent return on investment.1
- Maintain your siding. Over time, weather and the elements can make your home’s siding appear dull and dirty. Use a pressure washer to clean stains, spider webs and accumulated dirt and grime, or use a soft cloth and a household cleaner to get into those small nooks and spaces. Although the average life expectancy of siding ranges from 60 to 100 years, depending on the material, extreme weather may reduce this number. If you need to replace the siding, you’ll enjoy a 77 percent return on investment.1
- Paint or replace garage doors. If your garage doors are in good condition, give them a new coat of paint. If they’re beginning to show their age, consider replacing them. Not only are new garage doors more energy efficient and better insulated than older models, they also have a 91.5 percent return on investment.1
- Maintain your fence. Replace rotted or worn posts and panels and freshen it up with a coat of paint. If you have a hedge that serves as your property’s border, keep it trimmed and in good shape.
Pay attention to the small details.
The small details tie your home’s exterior together and help it stand out from others in the neighborhood.
- Paint front door, trim and shutters. This inexpensive improvement adds brightness to a home, whether you choose a bold color, a neutral tone or classic white.
- Install new door fixtures and be sure they match in style and finish and complement the style of your home.
- Update your house numbers. Make sure potential buyers and guests can find your home. If the numbers have faded or need an update, replace them. If choosing a metallic finish, make sure it matches the finish of your exterior light fixtures.
Tend to your driveway and lawn.
Well-landscaped homes may sell for between 5.5% and 12.7% more than other similar homes and studies show it may also add up to 28 percent to your home’s overall value.5
- Place a border along your driveway or walkway made of brick, stone, pavers or another hardscape element to add visual interest to a plain driveway.
- Maintain your green space. If you have grass, a well-maintained, green lawn makes your home look inviting and picturesque. However, in many parts of the country, water conservation is becoming more important. Xeriscaped landscapes incorporate drought-tolerant vegetation that thrives in warm, dry climates, such as lavender, sage, wisteria and agave, with water-saving drip irrigation and mulch. Xeriscaping has a cost savings of 36 cents per square foot annually through reduced irrigation and maintenance costs.3 Additionally, these landscapes are virtually maintenance free, which makes it an attractive option for busy buyers.
- Include trees and shrubs to create texture and add interest to your landscape. Planting a few types of trees and shrubs of varying heights, widths and flowering times boosts your home’s curb appeal year-round.
Make it feel inviting.
It’s no secret that emotions play a role in a person’s decision to purchase a home. Stage the outside of your home to evoke warm feelings.
- Stage your porch. If you have a front porch, make it feel more inviting by including seating, such as a chair or loveseat, an outdoor rug and a small table. If space is an issue, incorporate small decorative touches, such as a festive wreath or potted plant.
- Hang flower boxes on your front porch railings and/or below your windows. If you don’t want to affix flower boxes to your home, purchase nice planters and containers and place them around your porch or on your front steps.
- Choose flowers and plants that bloom at different times of the year for year-round appeal. For example, bulbs not only bloom all spring, they also multiply and come up every year. Perennials often flower for most of the year and will prevent you from having to replant them every year.
- If you don’t have a green thumb, choose low maintenance plants and flowers. Flowers such as lavender, rosemary, and zinnias are a few low-maintenance and drought-tolerant options.
Boost Your Online “Curb Appeal.”
For those interested in selling, it’s important to know the effect online curb appeal has on a home. The better impression your home gives online, the more likely buyers will want to see it in person. Here’s how to get your home ready for its listing debut.
- Stage your home. Staging shows your home in its best light and helps potential buyers picture themselves living there.
- Hire a professional to take photos. A photographer has the skills and equipment to shoot your home in the best light and make it look its best.
- Include a short video tour of the home. Videos are becoming a popular way to give buyers a glimpse of the home before they step foot in it.
Before you start a home project, keep these four things in mind:
- Why are you renovating? In other words, is your intention to update your home and get it show-ready or do you want to sell it for more money? Don’t fall into the trap of undertaking major renovations that may not pay off when you sell. If your home is in good shape, a few inexpensive updates may be enough to make your home attractive to buyers.
- The style of the neighborhood. Whenever you renovate your home, make sure the project fits with the style of the neighborhood and rules of the homeowner association. For example, an HOA may limit the choice and number of trees you can plant on your property. Similarly, a tall hedge border may not fit in in a neighborhood of low, picket fences.
- Permits. If you’re planning an extensive exterior renovation, you may need a permit from your municipality or other authority.
- Budget. A budget keeps your project’s costs and scope in check. Make a list of the improvements you’d like to make, set a realistic budget and stick to it. If you’d like advice on improvements you can make to boost your home’s curb appeal, give us a call.
Are you thinking of boosting your home’s curb appeal or renovating your home before you list? Do you want help making your home more appealing to potential buyers online and in-person? Give Sonja a call at (661) 979-9000 and she’ll help you present your home in its best light.
Sources: 1. Remodeling, 2016 Cost vs Value Report
- Realtor Mag, September 22, 2016
- Houzz, Houzz & Home-U.S., June 2016