Traditionally, people turn to two methods for determining home value — appraisals and something called a comparative market analysis.
Appraisals vary in cost depending on the price of the home, though they average about $300 for a $250,000 house. Appraisers review numerous factors including recent sales of similar properties, location, square footage and construction quality.
An appraisal is an estimate of a property's monetary value on the open market; an estimate of a property's type and condition, its utility for a given purpose or its highest and best use.
Comparative market analysis is an informal estimate of market value performed by a real estate agent or broker. It is based on like sales and generally offers a range of values including probable market value. Many agents offer a free analysis or property profile in hopes of acquiring a new client.
Brokers opinions, free or not, should be in writing, using professionally accepted appraisal techniques.
Individuals can also do their own cost comparison, though doing so may take several hours of research at the county recorders office.
Most county recorder's offices have indexes to match street addresses and parcel numbers.