Whether you're looking to determine your home's worth before placing it for sale, or you're trying to decide how much to offer for a property in which you're interested, you'll need to find comps in your neighborhood. Comps are different than appraisals, as the comps reveal what the market is like and what people are willing to pay for a particular home or piece of land. There are several different ways to obtain comps to help you in your real estate journey.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
To find comps in your neighborhood, you can talk to a realtor, check real estate websites, search the county records or use a mobile app.
Talk to a Realtor
Contact a realtor who's been doing business for years in the town you're searching for comps. The realtor will most likely be an expert about the area, and he will be able to pull the comps for you. This won't cost you a penny, and if you like the agent, you may wish to use him in the future.
You'll need to provide the realtor with the property address and details about the home. This includes the number of bedrooms, the number of bathrooms, the home's square footage, the number of acres on which the home sits and whether there are any extra features, like a swimming pool or solar panels.
Use a Real Estate Website
If you'd rather obtain the comps on your own, you can use one of the complimentary real estate websites on the internet. Zillow, Realtor.com and Trulia are excellent sources for this purpose. All of the sites allow you to quickly search for sold homes in your area, and Zillow goes a little further by offering a "Zestimate," which is an estimate that the company puts together based on public records and recently sold homes.
Search Public Records
All real estate and property transaction records are available to the public. Visit your county's website and look for a public records search box. If your county doesn't have one, you can check out the records physically at one of the county offices. You'll have to call to find out if your town has the records at the county courthouse, city hall or county recorder's office.
Keep in mind that these records will only list the sale prices of the homes, so if there is a seller contingency that actually allowed the buyer to get the house for less, you won't know about it.
Install an App
Download the Homesnap app from either Google Play or iTunes and use it to find comps in your neighborhood. This handy app only requires you to snap a picture of the home in which you're interested (or your own home if you want to sell). Of course, you can also enter the property address if you wish. The app will then pull up all of the information on that home, including comparable properties nearby that are either active or sold.
Alicia Bodine is a New Jersey-based writer specializing in finance. With more than 13 years of experience, her work has appeared in LendingTree, GoBankingRates, Sapling, Zacks and Pocket Sense.