To make certain that you are making a good investment, it is crucial to have an accurate property value, whether you are the one buying or selling. This is particularly true if mortgage notes will be involved.

The following examines the four ways your property and mortgage note are valued, based on accuracy and the various features each provides. It’s important to understand that the cost and completion times discussed below are based on single family properties. Valuing commercial and multi-family properties often costs more and takes longer.

Completion: 3 to 10 days
Cost: $300 to $500
Accuracy: Very accurate
Almost always required by conventional lenders before agreeing to a loan on a property, an appraisal is your best option for obtaining the most accurate property value. When an appraisal is completed, you receive a detailed report on the property itself, as well as real estate in the surrounding area. If you are not using a conventional lender or have limited time and money for an appraisal, the options below may be best.

Broker’s Price Opinion (BPO)
Completion: 1 to 5 days
Cost: $100 to $250
Accuracy: Accurate
Known for providing an accurate property value and being completed quickly at a great price, BPO is most often used when purchasing a mortgage note. A more simplistic version of an appraisal that also offers information on the property and the surrounding area, BPOs lack some of the details appraisals have. As a result, a conventional bank may not accept a BPO when considering a loan.

Comparative Market Analysis (CMA)
Completion: 1 day
Cost: No charge
Accuracy: Somewhat accurate
Most licensed real estate agents complete a CMA at no cost when you are working with them. A CMA includes a list of comparable properties in the market, as well as their recent selling or current listing price. It provides information on property value trends and can give you a somewhat accurate look at a property’s value. In the event you decide to enter into a contract or investment, it is a good idea (and much safer) to have a BPO or appraisal completed for a more accurate value of the property.

Internet Search
Completion: Around 1 hour
Cost: No cost
Accuracy: Not Very Accurate
Anyone with an internet connection with can quickly go on Trulia or Zillow and examine estimated property values in a matter of seconds. These sites list recent sales data, including selling price, as well as an estimate of the current value of the property. While this is a quick and free way to get an idea of a property’s value, the estimates tend to wildly inaccurate. As a result, they should not looked at as a reliable property valuation.

Now that you are aware of your options for valuing your property or potential property, don’t forget about your mortgage note’s value. There are two options. One, contact a note buyer for a quote or two, access a free note calculator to receive an instant valuation.