In a recent NY Times article, What’s My House Worth? the author confesses to being an information junkie and discusses how the online sites devoted to home values feed her obsession. But she runs into  a great deal of contradiction and doesn’t know if her home has gained 32K in equity or lost close to 90K. She talks to an associate professor of marketing a Stanford who tells her that this kind of information can actually have a negative effect on her life:

“The Internet makes it easy to get too much information, from too many conflicting sources, and all it’s going to do is to give you ecstasy on some days and pain on others.”

And she speaks to an appraiser to see how online results compare to an actual appraisal:

Those online sites rely on local sale prices, and in neighborhoods where all the housing is uniform, can be accurate,” Mr. Raful said. “But in a community like Mill Valley, where you can have a house worth four times as much as the one next door without affecting either house’s value, online sites aren’t as likely to pick the right comps.”

Living in Mill Valley must be a lot like living in St. Louis. It is block by block here and as rehabbers move into to new neighborhoods, it’s house by house. A house on Pennsylvania sold for 256.5K in 2006 and it was just a few doors down from another on Pennsylvania which sold for 40K just a few months later. Granted there is quite a size difference here, but the major factor is that one was completely renovated and the other needed a complete overhaul.

If you are really interested in finding out what your home is worth you need to consult a professional. A living, breathing person who can actually visit your home, see its condition and evaluate it against the appropriate comps.