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For most Canadians, the home is not simply a sentimental space to raise a family, but is retirement, lifestyle, and economic security. The value of your home is an important determinant of your financial future.

When you are purchasing or refinancing your home, determination of your home’s value is an essential step.

The four biggest factors in determining your home’s value:

1.     Location

2.     Size, age and condition of the property, including any renovations and updates

3.     The housing market

4.     The economy, interest rates

Most Calgarians look to their City of Calgary Property Assessment to determine value. Unfortunately, the City Assessment can be outdated by as much as 1.5 years. Assessments are done by computer software. They also use “sight-unseen” mass-appraisals to facilitate tax collection, and can be disputed with the City.

So, what is your home really worth?

Well, start by contacting a licensed Realtor who can produce a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) on your property at no cost. Great real estate agents take a lot of pride in properly estimating the value of your home, so use them! If you don’t have a Realtor and want a CMA, let me know, I have the good fortune to work with the best Realtors in Calgary.

A Realtor CMA is for homes sold in the past one to three months on your street and community, not the past year plus, like the City Assessment. To be accurate, your Realtor will need to view the interior of your home.

A Realtor is concerned with the sale value of your home, however, if a bank is involved, there needs to be a more thorough, in-person, objective opinion. An appraisal is required by a bank when they cannot determine the value of your home by their own internal data.

An appraisal is more thorough than a CMA and is designed to protect the bank, since the appraiser has no vested interest. The appraiser is objective and has no interest in the sale of the property.

Knowing your home’s value can empower you to make investment decisions. You can refinance -  taking out equity for investments or rental properties, paying down debt or to finance some renovations - or speak with an accountant regarding the possibilities of deducting your mortgage interest from income.