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Real Estate Value: Knowing yours is Key to Mortgage Success

The value of the real estate you own, whether it is your personal residence or an investment property, is critical to your mortgage and financial success. If the balance on your mortgage is close to or higher than the value of your property, your real estate is not the financial machine it should be. Therefore, if you want to be successful in real estate ownership of any kind, you absolutely must know how to determine the value of your property.

Now, there may appear to be a simple solution to this problem, you say. Get an appraisal. Sure, this would work, but appraisals are not cheap. For residential property, they begin around $175 and range to $400. For investment real estate, they can be much higher. Imagine owning 25 houses and needing to know the value for each. You certainly wouldn't want to pay for 25 appraisals. So, here is a simple formula for learning the value of your property.

1. Learn the average rate of appreciation in the neighborhood where the real estate is located. Almost any property will increase in value two to three percent each year, even in depressed areas. So, if your rate of appreciation is three percent and you paid $100,000 last year for your house, it is now worth at least $103,000, based solely on appreciation. You can learn this rate by calling a local realtor. Remember, in affluent neighborhoods, appreciation rates may range from four to eight percent.

2. Estimate the value of any improvements, using a ratio formula. That is, if you improve the structure of the property (new roof, deck, automatic garage doors, windows, etc.), all for about 30 to 40 percent of what you paid for the improvement. Now, this is a variable, depending on location, so don't take this as an absolute. So, last year I put all new windows in my house. It cost $10,000. I assume I can add $3,000 to $4,000 in value to my house. Cut that ratio to 15 percent for cosmetic improvements like paint, carpeting and landscaping.

3. Know comparable sales within one mile and within the last year. For example, if a house one block away that is almost identical to yours in dimension and style sold last month for $150,000, this is a great starting ground for your value. Now, remember your home may have things the other house didn't have, increasing your value even more.

4. Other home's asking price plays a small role. Realtors know their business. If you see a comparable home in the neighborhood, being sold by a realtor, check the listing price. Although not nearly as important as the other parts of the formula, this certainly plays a role in determining the value of your property.

So, use this formula, learn the value of your real estate, and you will wield an amazing amount of financial power.

Mark Barnes is an investment real estate and real estate finance expert. Get his free mortgage finance course at Mark is also the author of the new novel, The League, a shocking, sports-related conspiracy. Learn more about his suspense thriller at

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