Knowing the value of your house is important if you decide to refinance, borrow against your home’s value, or sell your property. Using a home estimate website to conduct some research may help you gain better insight into what it’s worth. However, different websites will show you a wide range of numbers, with the margin of error equaling several thousand dollars.
Some details you want to look at when researching home estimate websites include where the data comes from, how reliable the website is, and the frequency of updates. Read on to see what made our list
The 6 Best Home Estimate Websites of 2020
Best Overall: Zillow
Launched in 2006, Zillow is one of the most popular home estimate websites, with over 110 million homes in the U.S. listed on its database. It gets the nod for the best because it’s easy to use, has the largest database, and provides a wide variety of tools for homeowners, including those who plan on selling their homes soon.
Their website and app are intuitively built to easily search so that within seconds you can get what Zillow calls a Zestimate, which is their proprietary tool to estimate a home’s value based on certain data points. Once you enter your address, you’ll be able to see details such as how much similar homes sold for in the area, the Zestimate range, any changes in value over the last 30 days, and predictions of your home's value within the next year. All of this information is on the same results page.
Zillow updates its information daily and the estimates have a 1.9% margin of error for homes on the market and 7.5% for ones that aren’t. For example, a home that’s currently on the market for $245,000 falls within the range of $240,345 to $249,655 in value.
The margin of error of off-market homes will depend on the accuracy of public records and historical data. Zillow uses publicly available data such as information from multiple listing services, county and tax assessor records, and real estate brokerages.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: RE/MAX
The real estate franchise RE/MAX, which boats 120,000 realtors, now has its own home value estimator. We like it as the runner-up because the company's website compiles home estimates from three websites: Eappraisal.com, SmartZip, and Zillow. This saves you time from looking at multiple sites for home estimates. It’s also easy to use, although there currently is not a mobile app for this tool.
RE/MAX's tool also shows comparables in the area. In terms of accuracy, these estimates use an AVM (automated valuation model) to represent the home's true value. They're based on automated computations from public records, and RE/MAX states these numbers have a large margin of error—although no actual number is provided. For example, Eappraisal.com’s data may not be accurate if your home is in a non-disclosure state—sales data isn’t required to be on the public record.
Although RE/MAX updates its listings in real-time, data for estimates may differ depending on which website it pulls from—Eappraisal.com, for example, doesn’t explicitly state how often it updates its information.
Best Mobile App: Trulia
Founded in San Francisco, Trulia is part of the Zillow group of companies. Although other home estimate websites have apps, what we like best about Trulia’s is that theirs is much more user-friendly, has clear navigation, and sports a clutter-free interface. Once you enter your address, you’re able to see prices for homes for sale in your neighborhood, price trends, and comparables. The app offers real-time alerts if you want to keep an eye on comparables in your area to help you estimate your home’s value.
However, it doesn’t give users a definitive estimate like other websites do, so you’ll need to go elsewhere for that. What we do like is that homeowners who are planning to refinance can use Trulia’s tools such as the refinance calculator and lender search. In addition, users can get insights into the neighborhood on either the website or the app with neighborhood map overlays, statistics on schools, virtual neighborhood tours, and neighborhood reviews from locals.
Trulia’s data is updated daily. While it won't give you a value on your own property, the updated data helps arm you with the information when refinancing or buying a home.
Most Accurate: Redfin
Redfin is a real estate brokerage that offers home buyers and sellers access to full-service discount realtors and provides online tools such as a home value estimator. We selected Redfin as the most accurate home estimate website because of how it updates data throughout the day and its low margin of error for home prices.
Redfin provides some of the most up-to-date data: its website and app use the MLS, or multiple listing services, to determine property values that are updated every 5 minutes. Refin’s estimates are also one of the most accurate, with a current median error rate of 1.73% for homes on the market and 5.84% for off-market ones—more accurate than Zillow.
Both the website and app are easy to navigate. Just enter your address and the tool displays the current estimated sale price and estimate prices over the next five years. Additionally, it provides recent home sales in the area and median real estate values in neighboring areas.
Most Trusted by Realtors: Realtor.com
This website is the most trusted by realtors because it’s associated with the largest realtor associations and uses data that real estate agents themselves use. As the official website of the National Association of Realtors, Realtor.com offers a home estimate tool through its “My Home” section on its website. It uses data from multiple sources, including 99% of all MLS-listed properties and refreshes information every 15 minutes.
Once you enter your address in the search bar, you’ll see three different price estimates, provided by companies trusted by realtors. For example, Collateral Analytics is a popular tool that supports real estate professionals and financial institutions. The data also offers estimates for the upcoming month and the next six months, plus the average price of comparable homes and neighborhood trends. The "Remodeling 101" section offers some insights into how your home value may change if you were to update or remodel specific areas of your property, such as a bathroom or kitchen.
The Realtor.com app has fewer features than the website, but it does include a home value estimator tool.
Best to Use for FSBO: ForSaleByOwner.com
ForSaleByOwner.com is one of the more popular websites to help homeowners interested in foregoing a realtor and listing their home themselves. The Pricing Scout tool is free and estimates your property’s values based on a market analysis algorithm that uses nearby comparables (homes in your neighborhood that recently sold). In other words, the tool will look at nearby properties based on the number of bathrooms, bedrooms, and square footage of the home.
Once you enter your address, Pricing Scout shows an estimated market value, plus a low- and high-end range of the estimate. Right below the value, you'll see how your home compares to others that recently sold in your neighborhood. There’s also a map so you can see where each property resides.
If you’re looking for a simple home estimator tool, this is a good choice—don’t expect an app or other free features. For a more accurate estimate, the website offers pricing reports for a one-time fee, which is cheaper than if you were to get an appraisal or hire a real estate agent.
What Are Home Estimate Websites?
Home estimate websites are tools that use publicly available data in order to estimate the current value of your property. Different websites like Zillow or Redfin, for example, use proprietary models and formulas to calculate these numbers. These formulas tend to factor in different data points, which is why you’ll see varying home values from one website to the next.
It’s a great and free way to look up your home’s value relatively quickly.
How Can a Home Estimate Website Help You?
Home estimate websites can be a useful tool for both homeowners and homebuyers. For those who are planning on moving, getting an estimate can help you determine how much you can sell it for, or figure out how to increase its value—examples include improving curb appeal or updating your bathrooms.
For anyone looking to refinance or take out a home equity loan, understanding the property value may help in determining how much they qualify for. In other words, your home’s current value will affect your home equity, one of the main factors when determining your loan amount.
How Do Home Estimate Websites Determine Property Value?
Home estimate websites typically gather their information from places like the MLS and public records. For example, Zillow’s Zestimate is based on publicly available information and uses a proprietary calculation to come up with a home’s market value. Other companies use similar AI technology, but formulas may differ from website to website, which is why you may see a range of price estimates.
Can You Trust Home Estimate Websites?
The short answer is maybe. You may have noticed that if you’ve used the home estimate websites mentioned above, you receive a wide range of numbers. Accuracy has improved in recent years, but there’s still room for error.
Even though these online tools use data that’s publicly available, some data is more valuable than others. For example, non-disclosure states (states that don't require disclosure of sales) won’t have sales data on their public records, which can make it more difficult to come up with an accurate estimate.
Every company uses its own proprietary formula and weighs data differently, which can affect the accuracy of your home’s estimate. It shouldn’t replace estimates made by professional appraisers.
When You Need a Paid Home Estimate
Homeowners who want to put their home on the market may want to conduct a pre-listing appraisal in order to get a better sense of its current market value. This will help you determine a listing price that could increase the likelihood of a faster sale.
Another occasion when you’ll need a paid home estimate is when you’re looking at refinancing. Lenders require an appraisal to ensure the new loan amount can be justified by your current home’s value. If your home value has gone up, you may have a better chance of getting approved.
The same goes for home equity loans. Since the amount you can ultimately borrow is based on the amount of equity you have, lenders will look at the current value of your house and compare it to how much you have left on your mortgage.
How We Chose the Best Home Estimate Websites
We looked at more than 10 home estimate websites and apps to provide you with an unbiased and comprehensive review. Factors we used in our evaluation included ease of use, frequency of updates, accuracy, how websites determined their estimates, and whether they provided additional information such as comparables and neighborhood details.
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