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Home Price Appreciation – Q & A

Q: What is the difference between market value and appraised value?
A: Appraised value is a certified appraiser’s opinion of the worth of a home at a given point in time. Lenders require appraisals as part of the loan application process; fees range from $200 and up.

Market value is what price the house will bring at a given point in time. A comparative market analysis is an informal estimate of market value, based on sales of comparable properties, performed by a real estate agent or broker.


Q: How do you increase the value of your property?
A: The biggest factor outside of a homeowner’s control is market conditions. But other issues — including the condition of the property, specific home improvements and neighborhood stability and safety — can influence property values.

The greatest rise in home prices occurs when the economy is strong and the number of home sales is increasing.

Though markets vary, that has occurred twice in recent history — in the early 1970s and the late 1980s. However, single-family homes appreciated much more than condominiums. While overall market conditions are out of the homeowner’s control, other factors are not.

For example, specific home improvements can increase the value above the cost of the improvements. According to Remodeling magazine, which publishes an annual “Cost vs. Value” remodeling report, a remodeled bathroom returns 81percent to the owner, a bathroom addition, 89 percent and a master bedroom suite, 82 percent.

Remember, quality pays. Well-planned and well-executed remodeling jobs are a good investment while bad work seldom enhances value or livability.

If you live in a high-crime area, an organized community watch program not only will lower the crime rate but also have been known to enhance property values.


Q: What are the standard ways of finding out what a house is valued at?
A: A comparative market analysis and an appraisal are the standard ways consumers, lenders and realty agents deterimined what a home is worth.

Your real estate agent will be happy to provide a comparative market analysis, an informal estimate of value based on comparable sales in the neighborhood. You also can research “the comps” yourself by checking on recent sales in public records. Be sure that you are researching properties that are similar in size, construction and location.

This information is not only available at your local recorder’s or assessor’s office but also through private companies and on the Internet.

An appraisal, which generally costs $200 to $300 to perform, is a certified appraiser’s opinion of the value of a home at any given time. Appraisers review numerous factors including recent comparable sales, location, square footage and construction quality.


Q: How can I improve the value of my property?
A: The biggest factor outside of a homeowner’s control is market conditions. But other issues — including the condition of the property, specific home improvements and neighborhood stability and safety — can influence property values.

The greatest rise in home prices occurs when the economy is strong and the number of home sales is increasing. Though markets vary, that has occurred twice in recent history — in the early 1970s and the late 1980s.

Specific home improvements can increase the value above the cost of the improvements. According to Remodeling magazine, which publishes an annual “Cost vs. Value” remodeling report, a remodeled bathroom returns 81percent to the owner, a bathroom addition, 89 percent and a master bedroom suite, 82 percent. Remember, quality pays. Well-planned and well-executed remodeling jobs are a good investment while bad work seldom enhances value or livability.

The safety and security of a neighborhood can affect property values, too. If you live in a high-crime area, an organized community watch program not only will lower the crime rate but give home values a boost, too.


Q: What kind of return is there on remodeling jobs?
A: Remodeling magazine produces an annual “Cost vs. Value Report” that answers just that question. The most important point to remember is that remodeling a home not only improves its livability for you but its curb appeal with a potential buyer down the road.

Most recently, the highest remodeling paybacks have come from updating kitchens and baths, home-office additions and extra amenities in older homes. While home offices are a relatively new remodeling trend, for example, you could expect to recoup 58 percent of the cost of adding a home office, according to the survey.


Q: Where do I get information on housing market stats?
A: A real estate agent is a good source for finding out the status of the local housing market. So is your statewide association of REALTORSĀ®, most of which are continuously compiling such statistics from local real estate boards.

For overall housing statistics, U.S. Housing Markets regularly publishes quarterly reports on home building and home buying. Your local builders association probably gets this report. If not, the housing research firm is located in Canton, Mich.; call (800) 755-6269 for information; the firm also maintains an Internet site. Finally, check with the U.S. Bureau of the Census in Washington, D.C.; (301) 495-4700. The census bureau also maintains a site on the Internet. The Chicago Title company also has published a pamphlet, “Who’s Buying Homes in America.” Write Chicago Title and Trust Family of Title Insurers, 171 North Clark St., Chicago, IL 60601-3294.

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