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When it comes to selling your house, you have one burning question:

how much is my home worth?


In recent years many online resources have emerged who claim to provide you an answer regarding your home value before you ever consult a human. But while you have access to more information than you would have dreamed of a decade ago, that doesn't mean you can expect a computer to deliver the final word of your home's value.

You might find different websites giving you completely different value. That means if you are looking at estimates for your home's value, you have to consider what kind of data went into that estimate. If your home is unique compared to other in the neighborhood, the choice of comparable homes would be a challenge to find. If there have been lots of recent home sales in your area, there is going to be much more data to work with than if there are fewer sales, and therefore you'll get a more accurate estimate.

All the online tools take advantage of publicly available data, which they run through computer models to obtain estimates of value. Exactly which data is used? Among the data sources are public property records and the multiple listing services (MLS) used by real estate agents. Exactly what data is available affects the accuracy of the estimate, and that amount of data varies.

To give you some idea:
- the data provided by the county often delays weeks, sometimes even months so the computer based estimate and value of your home might not be the most current.
- same data also includes foreclosures and short sales. By nature those sales will reduce the computer based estimate and value of your home.
- same data does not take renovations nor updates into account. So if there are mainly comps that are original but your home is renovated, the computer based estimate and value of your home will not reflect those updates.

Zillow allows consumers with a free account to correct or add data about their homes and also to control which comps are used. Redfin shows the comps and public records data that was used and allows you to edit the basic facts.

Let's compare some online tools:


A 3-bedroom / 2-bath single family home in up-and-coming Oakland Park where homes vary considerably in size and condition.

Zillow: $499,825
Chase: $404,060 to $503,940
Redfin: $386,143 $599,250
Bank of America: $484,013 to $568,233 $506,818 $499,825

The different computer based estimates for the same property range from $386,143 to $599,250. That's over $200,000 difference!

A 2-bedroom / 2-bath condo on prestigious Galt Ocean Mile where buildings and units vary considerably in age, size and condition.

Zillow: $526,625
Chase: $407,700 to $498,300
Redfin: $522,560 $505,000
Bank of America: $434,237 to $520,086 $444,000 $526,625

That's almost $120,000 range between the lowest and the highest computer based value for the same property.

Computer based estimates regarding the value of your home can give you some helpful hints. But those online estimates should be the beginning of a conversation with a human, not the end.

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