Five Ways to Find Out What Your Home is Worth

Even if you are not planning to put your home on the market any time soon, finding out the real property value of your home can help you plan a yearly budget for everything from appealing property taxes to knowing how much equity credit line is available for you.

Although it's easy enough to research your address on the internet, sometimes those sites can be less accurate than other methods. If you want to know the actual value of your home, see below for five great ways to check.

Check out the real estate sites first. Sites like Zillow.com or Trulia.com often offer do-it-yourself valuation tools, where you can plug in information that you know about your property. Most of the time, a quick search on the site of your address will bring up the stats on your home, and offer what they believe it is worth. Beware the accuracy of these values, however, as they typically rely on whatever public records are available, even if they are old and outdated.

See how your home has appreciated over time. The Federal Housing Financing Agency's calculator pulls records from home sales over time, as far back as the 1970s. They then use this information to show how a home has sold over time, or comparable homes in the neighborhood. While this may indicate an excellent timeline of your neighborhood, they don't account for inflation or seasonal adjustments.

Ask a real estate agent to put together a competitive market analysis. Basically what this means is that a real estate agent can get you a report based on their information on home sales in the area. They'll have access to sales reports in your neighborhood, and be able to give a reasonable estimate of the fair market value for your home. Some of these services may be free, and if you are happy with their help, consider using them as your listing agent if you decide to sell.

Compare “apples to apples” on your own. Home sales are public record, and finding a home for sale that has the same model, square footage or in your neighborhood that has recently sold or put on the market is a great way to ballpark your home's value. Ask yourself, "If my house was not for sale, what would draw potential buyers closeby?"

Hire an appraiser. A professional appraiser is going to be the most accurate way to find out a home's approximate fair market value, as they will investigate every detail of your home and the grounds to make an official report. A bank may be able to offer an appraiser recommendation, but a hard money lender is another choice when looking to get a professional opinion. Hard money lenders base their loan amounts of the value of a property, not the borrower. They work closely with appraisers, so they will be able to help you find out what kind of direct loan you may be able to get based off of your current home value.