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Online Valuations

1 – Online Valuations for Waco Texas Real Estate

Zestimates, E-ppraisals, and Instant Online Valuations

Recently, a Zillow representative from California visiting our Waco office said that if it were possible, Zillow would most likely rate the accuracy of its Texas property valuations (zestimates) lower than “one star” – not something potential home-sellers want to hear as many have come to trust in Zillow as the all-knowing real estate guide. I mean, the user interface is exceptional but… there are some barriers even Zillow can’t break.

If you’re thinking of selling your home here in Waco, Texas, you need an accurate valuation of it. In order to sell your home in a timely manner without short-changing yourself, it’s important to know what your property is worth in today’s real estate market. The danger of over-pricing is a negative market response that causes red flags. Under Pricing gives you the eerie feeling you’re leaving money on the table.

So, let’s examine the tools available to help you determine just how much your house is worth.

Online Valuations

The internet offers a multitude of free and instant online valuation tools that in some markets can provide a good starting point for market prices. However, these sites often rely on third parties like Tax Appraisal Districts for the information used to make a valuation.

Due to the Texas non-disclosure law, only licensed Realtors and Appraisers have access to the MLS that shows exactly what homes have sold for. Texas policy makers decided, long ago, to adopt this law because it attracts large companies to the state which provides employment opportunities and fosters the healthy economy we have all grown to depend on. Tax Appraisal Districts are required to do their own “homework” and value properties independent of the MLS. One of their angles is to send letters out to new home buyers asking them to “self-report” what they paid for the home. Some unaware buyers will do this as the paperwork looks legitimate. NextHome Our Town advises all new home buyers to, politely, discard the request.

Also note the difference between Fair Market Value, Appraised Value and Assessed Value. The tax districts reports show an appraised value or what the tax district believes your home to be worth. However, they are not allowed to levy taxes against any new appraised value if it is more than 10% higher than the previous year’s value. The Assessed Value is the amount that represents the maximum 10% increase that taxes are calculated from. Your assessed value will increase by 10% every year until it reaches the appraised value. Neither of these values used by the tax district represent the Fair Market Value.


Lending institutions, especially local lenders, keep up a large database of the sales prices of the properties they have loaned money out for. They will often use an AVM, or Automated Valuation Model, which is an alogrithm that pulls bits of data from the bank’s stores, tax appraisals, and other public records to calculate what a home’s value is. You may be able to pay a fee for this report.

Federal Housing Finance Agency

The FHFA House Price Index (FHFA HPI®) is the nation’s only collection of public, freely available house price indexes that measure changes in single-family home values based on data from all 50 states and over 400 American cities that extend back to the mid-1970s.  The FHFA HPI incorporates tens of millions of home sales and offers insights about house price fluctuations at the national, census division, state, metro area, county, ZIP code, and census tract levels.  FHFA uses a fully transparent methodology based upon a weighted, repeat-sales statistical technique to analyze house price transaction data.You can utilize this index to estimate the value of your home by calculating how much it has appreciated since you purchased it. Assuming that the property has been maintained, this may be your best best in figuring your home’s fair market value without paying a consultant.

Paid Sources

Most everyone knows that a Real Estate Agent can give you a price estimate for your home. Frankly, this is the most accurate estimate you can get assuming you are speaking with an experienced agent who operates in your local market and whose sales bulk matches your property type. Real Estate Agents can tell you whether you are likely to get over the appraised value or under based on current market conditions and the desirability of your property. They can translate the emotional appeal of your home into dollars.

For an unbiased opinion of your home’s value, and the most technical review of your property, you will need to hire an appraiser. A licensed appraiser will break down your property’s amenities and place values on each piece. Appraisers are most valuable when there are multiple structures, an unusual lot size, or unique properties where no other or limited comparable properties exist.

Where are you in the decision to sell

If you are in the beginning stages of selling your home you may not be ready to engage with a professional real estate agent or pay for an appraiser. Using the FHFA Index while referencing zillow and the tax appraisal’s values may give you the ballpark value you need to run some preliminary numbers.

As you get more comfortable with the idea of selling, NextHome Our Town would welcome the opportunity to answer questions about the market and what today’s buyers demand, and pay top dollar for.

Want answers from experts?

Get a home estimate from NextHome Our Town

In the meantime, please grab NextHome Our Town’s exclusive Seller Workbook! Full of checklists, questionnaires and other downloadable resources.

Get the Seller Workbook HERE!