Myths about "free" online home values
While surfing the Internet or watching television, you may have seen that there are websites that can give you the "value" of your home for free. Don't fall for it!
Many websites that promise a "value" for your home are referral services for real estate agents looking for people thinking about selling their homes. (That's the biggest reason people want to know how much their house might be worth, after all.) We're all for entrepreneurship, but what you get out of the deal isn't a "free home value." Instead, it's a consultation with a real estate agent who will tell you what the home could sell for if you hire the agent. It's likely to be inflated, since the agent wants your business and promising a higher value might help convince you to hire them.
Some sites use your address and other information to connect to a database of recent sales in your neighborhood. They then use that information to guess what your home might be worth. Sometimes they tap into your county assessor's information. Most of the time, you'll notice they ask what you paid for the house and when you bought it. Usually this means they're going to take that figure, multiply it by how much the "average" home in your metropolitan area has appreciated since you bought it, and give you that figure. In any case, it's unreliable.
A professional appraiser will:
Look at recent sales as well as similar properties still on the market and asking prices
Consult with real estate professionals and other appraisers to see what the market in your neighborhood — not just your metropolitan area — is doing
Make careful, professional adjustments based on dozens of possible factors.
No computer can do that, let alone for free. To know the true market value of your home, you need a professional appraiser.