The days of relying solely on your real estate agent to tell you how much your house is worth may be over, but that doesn’t mean your own research online will give you all the answers you need to make sound decisions about your home and financial future.

Unlocking the equity in your home to upgrade to a bigger house or better lifestyle – or to invest and build wealth – can be tempting, but it pays to determine the value of your home before making any dramatic decisions.

Most homeowners tend to overestimate the value of their home rather than underestimate it, LJ Hooker Avnu research shows. A homeowner may have worked hard to improve a property during the time they lived there and genuinely love the home, but personal attachment can make it difficult to be objective about its true value.

Online calculators, suburb reports and sales records are valuable tools for the homeowner doing their own preliminary research, but it’s worth turning to the experts for an accurate picture of your property’s value in the current market.

“Understanding what your home could be worth isn’t as simple as looking at the recent sales in your suburb or punching some numbers into an online calculator; a lot of factors come into play” 

Calculating how much weight each factor carries at any given time is where the advice of an experienced agent can really count. “Supply and demand is a big one, and that’s changing all the time as the market fluctuates” 

The condition of a home is also important, along with the layout and number of rooms, architectural style, appeal of the outdoor areas, the property’s aspect and its position on the street. A property’s renovation or development potential will have an impact, and if it’s close to public transport, good schools and amenities such as cafes, shopping centres and parks, so much the better.

“It’s always advisable to have an experienced agent who knows your suburb inside out to accurately price your home, and to assess what bearing each factor has on the value of your property in the current market. Accurate pricing is the way we ensure a quick and successful sale.”

An agent you can trust

Keep in mind that automated online tools rely on the data available – and may not include all the data required to make an accurate value assessment. Doing your own research on comparable properties to yours – size, location, and quality – will give you an idea of what price to expect from your own, but be sure to dig a little deeper than homes that are currently for sale. Finding out what a house actually sold for versus what it was advertised for will yield far more accurate results.

LJ Hooker Avnu agent Nick Gittoes says arranging an appraisal by a licensed real estate agent is a good place to start when it comes to working out how much your home is worth, but beware the agent who tries to inflate the price.

“A common tactic is to build up a vendor’s hopes, only to talk them down on price later when the offers fail to come in” Gittoes says. “An ethical agent who understands  your local market and the different elements that contribute to a property’s value will give you an accurate price range you can be confident in.”

Gittoes suggests homeowners do their research when looking for an agent, and to compare what a few recent sales were advertised for versus what they sold for.

Having an accurate idea of the sale price you can expect for your home can also make it easier to make decisions on what you’re realistically able to invest in next.

It can be tricky trying to time selling your own home and buying another, and bridging loans often come into play. In this case, an independent valuation by a qualified property valuer will usually be required by your lender.

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