Knowing the monetary value of your home will allow you to make an informed decision on what to do with your equity. Whether you want to upgrade into a more expensive home or take out some equity with a refinance, you need to know how much your home is worth.
There are some other online sources that you may be able to check to get an idea of what your home is worth. Some city, county or state websites keep online records of property transfers. This information will give you a list of homes that have sold near you, and the price they sold for.
One thing a compentent appraiser has to consider in assessing the value of your property is the location and availability of comparable properties or "comps" that have sold in the last year. If the appraiser has to go more than a few miles, and in some cases from 5-10 miles, a lender may classify your home as "rural" based on the distance to get 3 good comps. If this classification happens, your interest rate will likely go up .25%-.50% or more.
The appraisal also must draw on good comps usually with less than 20% of the value being adjusted for features like more square footage or acreage.
Another area of concern with appraisals is how much acreage is with the property. Most lenders only allow value to be given to a house and 5 acres. Some allow 10 and a few allow up to 20. I
If you are looking to buy or refinace a house with over 20 acres, specialized "farm" financing may be necessary and it typically runs about 2% over conventional conforming mortgage rates.
Farm financing can be obtained through the USDA. Some lenders will allow you refinance conventially if you can prove that the acreage is not being used as a working farm or as they call a hobby farm.
The one single most factor in determining what a home is worth is the existence of good recently sold comparable properties. Without such comparables the establishment of what the home is worth becomes much less exact.
Keep in mind that the value of a home is never a definate figure. It is what each potential home buyer perceives it to be. A potential buyer may fall in love with the backyard or kitchen and be willing to pay more for the house than another buyer. For this reason even a certified realtor or appraiser can only come to an approximate value. The house ussually sells for more or less than the assessed value.
You can get an idea of what your home is worth by hiring a licensed appraiser to appraise your home. This option will cost you money, however is the most accurate form in determining the value of your home. There are also some free ways of getting an idea of what your home is worth; Having a Realtor do a market analysis, checking recent sales in your neighborhood, and using some online value estimate resources.