Unfortunately, most sellers don’t have the time or energy to compare their home to similar properties in the area. Your real estate agent can give you a good estimate of your home’s value.
However, unless he or she is also a licensed appraiser, your agent can only provide a broker’s estimate of value, established through a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA).
CMAs can be very accurate in estimating your home’s value, but your agent may suggest you consider hiring a licensed appraiser to really nail down the value, and likely can advise you on good appraisers he or she has used before. Expect to pay a licensed appraiser $300 to $400.
Appraisers are unbiased. They usually use the cost approach – estimating how much it would cost to build a new house exactly like yours.
This has a side bonus: You’ll get a sense of how your older home compares to new builds.
He or she will look at everything from your neighborhood to the cracks in the home’s foundation. It is in probing behind the cosmetics of your home that an appraiser earns his or her stripes.
That’s when you’ll find whether or not your upgrades are still assets, or if now is the time to fix that leaky roof.
If it’s good news, you may want to share your appraisal with buyers who are close to making an offer, especially if the buyer appears to be talking down the property with a view to submitting a lowball offer.