How to track the value of a house in an adjusting market
July 22, 2010 12:24 PM   Subscribe

Are there good resources to determine what's happening to the value of my house as the market adjusts?

I'm curious as to how to track the value of my house, at least roughly, as the market adjusts and settles. I'm not looking for an exact value that would require an appraisal with comparable sales in the surrounding area. I'm looking for resources that give more general information regarding whether housing values for my particular area are going up or down, at what percentage, and how this compares to particular trends over the last couple of years. Does anything like this exist that would be accessible to the average person?
posted by SpacemanStix to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Zillow does what you want.
posted by alms at 12:26 PM on July 22, 2010

Seconding Zillow. It seems to have become a sort of de facto resource for this sort of thing. Do you know any realtors? I imagine they have this sort of information, but don't know how accessible it generally is. Another possible source might be the tax appraisers office, though (ho, ho) their values only ever seem to go up.
posted by jquinby at 12:29 PM on July 22, 2010

At the center of a professional appraisal is a comparison of the sales record of comparable homes in the same area. While many professionals scoff at Zillow ... and it's certainly not licensed and can't be used in the same ways as a professional appraisal .... Zillow is doing exactly what they do.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:48 PM on July 22, 2010

Zillow says the house I closed on in March is now worth about 25% more than just a few months ago. I'm pretty confident I couldn't get that amount if we put it on the market. So, it's not science. But, it is a good starting point.
posted by bluedaisy at 1:22 PM on July 22, 2010

Best answer: Also, the real estate section of your local newspaper can be a good source of information about market fluctuations.
posted by bluedaisy at 1:24 PM on July 22, 2010

Zillow is generally good, but depending on where you live it may not have enough data on recent sales to provide useful information. If there have been 3 sales in the last 18 months and all 3 were short sales, you are not going to get an accurate read from any automated service.
posted by COD at 1:28 PM on July 22, 2010

If there have been 3 sales in the last 18 months and all 3 were short sales, you are not going to get an accurate read from any automated service.
ha ha ha ha ha ha.

A short sale is still a sale. It is a comp. Whether the bank got all of its money back or not is irrelevant. If you are attempting to sell your home you are competing against those short sales.
posted by JPD at 1:51 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Zillow is routinely 10-20% off on the high side in my area. For example, a house up the street from mine is for sale for $195K, has been on the market for months, and the Zillow estimate on it is still $215K. There have been a number of regular sales in my area in the last year and a half, as well as short sales and foreclosures. I suspect that their algorithm improperly weights appraised value for tax purposes vs. historical sales vs. recent sales, and that with home prices still dropping it's nigh-useless. I've found Zillow to be nice for finding recent sales and looking at trends and raw data, but you should take their valuation with a dash of salt and do the math yourself.
posted by hackwolf at 2:28 PM on July 22, 2010

I bough my house for $170k, when Zillow estimated it at $205k. As soon as Zillow registered the sale, it estimated my house at $225k, and stayed there for over a year. This is in a fense urban area with tons of sales. I don't know how their algorith works, but I'd take it with $50,000 worth of salt.
posted by miyabo at 2:29 PM on July 22, 2010

Best answer: the first rule of real estate is that all property is unique, and that is where Zillow falls short. Zillow looks at regions of homes in aggregate and applies lots of fancy math to estimate your home's value, but it can't capture a lot of specifics and it's not as smart as a human appraiser, with their experience and knowledge of the market. The real answer to your question is to pay for an appraisal every six months or so. However -- if you think you can make do without, um, expertise -- you can use the exact same forms they do.

Uniform Residential Appraisal Report on wp

form 1004 URAR (the actual form)
posted by Chris4d at 3:39 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: my bad, I just read that you are less interested in the precise value of your house than you are in trends. Well, lots of organizations collect statistics on home values and sales - here's one. Also keep an eye on the real estate section of your local newspaper. There's no magic to it; you just have to do the research.
posted by Chris4d at 3:50 PM on July 22, 2010

Zillow is routinely 10-20% off on the high side in my area.

I've noticed the same thing: Zillow consistently over-values all properties in any area. It's not just outliers, it's all property, regardless of whether they were active "bubble" regions or not.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:22 PM on July 22, 2010

We just had our home reappraised during the refinance process and it came in 30k lower than the Zillow estimate.
posted by media_itoku at 7:32 PM on July 22, 2010

Best answer: is another alternative to Zillow, but clearly uses a different algorithm. We're putting our house on the market, so I've looked at both. Zillow generally has my home value too high. A couple weeks ago Cyberhomes had it too low, but I just checked and it's now right around the price we're about to list.

Both also provide nice little graphs indicating the rise and fall of home values in the area.
posted by thejanna at 6:07 AM on July 23, 2010

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