You hear about home prices all the time. Just watch your local news and you'll hear how much the "average" home prices in your community are up or down compared to last month or last year. But averages don't tell you much about your individual home.
To find out how much your house is worth, you could ask a real estate agent to give you an estimate. They'll look at comparable homes in your neighborhood to see how much they sold for, with adjustments made for the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in your house. But if you just want a quick look, hit the best real estate sites.
Zillow is so much fun to explore, you can get lost in it for hours. Check out home prices in Beverly Hills, virtually fly to Manhattan or look up any points in between. There are maps and photos to help you daydream. There's also the Zillow app, which gives you great information on houses near you when you're just driving around.
The heart of Zillow, home prices, is simple and available right on its homepage. Type in your address and choose Buy, Rent or Sell. Almost instantly you can see how much your house is worth. Zillow even shows you your home's sales history, with the years it sold and how much it was sold for. You can scroll down to see how much you're paying in property taxes and how much they used to be.
Zillow also has helpful tools to help you make smart financial decisions. You can see how much all the houses in your neighborhood are worth, which can be helpful if you're wondering whether it makes sense to add bedrooms or bathrooms to your home. Just click on homes in your neighborhood to see how much your house would be worth with those additions.
Bonus tip: Speaking of homes in your neighborhood, did you know that your home is visible in Google Street View? If you don't want anyone getting a good look at it, you can ask Google to blur it out. Click here to find out how, along with other information to keep creeps from stalking you online.
Perhaps it would make more sense to rent out your home rather than sell it. Zillow shows you how much rent you can get each month. If you're thinking about refinancing your mortgage, Zillow has tools for that, too.
Note: Zillow's Make Me Move feature (click on the Sell tab) can help you decide if listing your home is worth it. Type in the minimum amount of money you'd take for your house. Without putting it up for sale, you can let homebuyers see how much they'd have to offer for you to consider selling it to them.
The National Association of Realtors, an association for real estate agents, has an extremely useful site for finding out how much your home is worth, and a lot more. For homeowners, it has the site Realtor.com and an app. (Realtor.org is the site for agents.)
On Realtor.com, just type in your home address. Choose among For Sale, For Rent, Recently Sold or Property Records. It'll pull up a handy overview of your home, starting with its estimated value. You will see photographs of homes in your neighborhood, along with the price that homebuyers recently paid for them. It will tell you how much nearby homes are renting for, so you can decide whether renting makes more financial sense than selling.
You can also find your home's sales history, with dates it was sold and prices it sold for, along with taxes paid. Plus, you can see what homebuyers see when they look at your home on the site. That includes a list of public and private schools in your neighborhood and in neighboring school districts. That information can come in handy for you when you're making decisions about refinancing your mortgage or selling or renting your home so you can move to a more desirable neighborhood.
Homes.com is a lot like Realtor.com and Zillow in its functionality. Type in your address from the Homes homepage, and choose For Sale, For Rent or Home Values.
Choose Home Values to get an aerial photograph of your neighborhood, with the estimated value of each home, including yours. Homes shows you top-line statistics about your neighborhood, like the unemployment rate and the median age of residents.
If you click on the photograph of your house, and choose Home Values, Homes will give you two options for more details. The first button, "See more info," gives you a bigger photo of your house and the estimated sales price. If you're considering selling, Homes provides the names and contact information of agents who can help you.
The other option is a quill pen icon that says "Claim your home" underneath. Enter your last name and the year you bought your house, then click Verify. Homes lets you provide specific details about your home that may be missing from its estimate, like the number of bedrooms or your garage's square footage.
If you provide your email address, Homes will create an account for you. Once you’re signed up, Homes will send you monthly updates on your home's value, plus the price of homes you might be interested in buying.
There are other sites, like Eppraisal, that provide information similar to Zillow, Realtor.com and Homes, and it's always good to get multiple estimates. There are also real estate company websites like Coldwell Banker's ZipRealty and its app that show you how much your home is worth. From the ZipRealty homepage, simply select Price Your Home.
Note: Be careful about a couple of things if you search on other sites. Some, like Trulia and QuickHomePrice, will give you an estimate of your home's value, but only if you provide your contact information. Don't give it to them unless you are serious about selling your home and want agents to call you. Also, if a site asks you to pay for information that they'll mail to you, don't do it, unless you are absolutely confident it's a legitimate business providing a service you can't find for free elsewhere.
On the Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show, Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com. Kim also posts breaking tech news 24/7 at News.Komando.com.