The way yahoo figures the value of your home is by pulling sold home prices and other information from public tax records on homes that have sold recently in your vicinity. If you were go to the courthouse yourself with addresses in hand, you could look up these records yourself on as many homes as you like. But that would involve driving through your neighborhood writing down the house numbers of all your neighbors, then physically driving to the courthouse in your town, finding the property tax department, then using their computers or getting a clerk to look all the info up for you. That is a lenghty process. I used to have to do it a lot when I was a realtor. The Yahoo search isn’t as thorough as you could be with a trip to the courthouse, but you do save yourself a lot of trouble this way. Once you see the value of your home, look down at the bottom of the yahoo home values page to see what other homes have sold for in your area.
Look at the list very closely. You are more interested in “home prices sold in my neighborhood” and Yahoo sometimes pulls information that is not related to your search. For example, in the search I used for this page, only one other home had sold in the area of the address I used. All the rest were from Berkeley California–over 6000 miles away. So be careful to make sure the comparable sales are of houses that are in your area. Also make sure that the homes are similar to yours in style, number of bedrooms and baths, square footage–and whether or not they offer the same features like a basement, garage, etc. That is the best way to get an accurate comparison. Realtors do come in handy being able to adjust home values to allow for such differences as those just mentioned.
Now you have hard facts in front of you. This information is solid because it doesn’t tell you what what people are asking for their homes–people rarely get asking price for their homes these days. The info you have tells you actual home sale prices—what buyers actually paid for the homes. This is the kind of factual info that appraisers use when preparing their reports for lenders.
My husband and I have been in our home for almost 13 years. We bought low, so even though the market has gone up and back down since then, we still have a good bit of equity in our home and a reasonable payment. We thought about it, but we will not be selling until home prices recover. Our decision was largely based upon the facts We have armed ourselves with regarding comparable home sales in our area. We may opt to rent this home out, move up to a nicer one, then sell this one when the market picks up. Now is a great time to buy and a terrible time to sell. The people who will benefit most in this market are first time homebuyers and renters who are ready to buy because they do not have to unload one home in order to buy another.