When researching a potential prospect, one important aspect of the wealth capacity estimate is the value of the prospect’s property and home(s). There are several ways to gather this information, but the two that I most commonly use are assessed value and market value.
For Assessed Value: Tax Assessors’ Websites
Tax assessors’ websites (you can find a listing of these websites at pulawski.net) provide you with a wealth of useful information on a property, including the market and assessed value of the property, the type of property (e.g., agricultural, commercial, industrial, residential), the structures on the property, and the location of the property.
For most prospects, I use the assessed value for the wealth capacity estimate. In some locations, however—such as Chicago and California—the assessed value is too far removed from the actual market value to be of any assistance to a researcher. In these cases, I tend to use the market value.
For Market Value: Zillow
The best resource to get an estimated market value on a property is Zillow.com. In addition to the market value, Zillow offers a variety of information similar to that found in the assessor’s database—including pictures of the property, information about the structures on the property, and the sales history for the property.
Zillow also gives an overview of the area in which the property is located, such as the values of homes in the area, the amount for which similar homes in the area have sold, and nearby schools.
For Neighborhood Estimates: U.S. Census Bureau
If you are unable to locate an assessed or market value of a particular property, you can use neighborhood estimates (based on the value of other homes in the area) to help you arrive at a reasonable value of the home. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau can be a helpful resource for determining neighborhood median home values.
For example, if Census data indicates that a prospect’s address is located in a tract with a median home value greater than $1 million, you can deduce that the prospect lives in a wealthy neighborhood.
Above: U.S. Census and Zillow data displayed in a constituent profile in EverTrue.
When looked at together, the assessed, market, and neighborhood values can give you a strong picture of a prospect’s real estate holdings—which can, in turn, help you arrive at a reliable capacity estimate for the prospect. I’ve found the above resources to be valuable, but let me know in the comments if you have any other tools to add!
Click here to learn how EverTrue’s solution for prospect research puts real estate data from Zillow and the U.S. Census at your fingertips.
Emily Davis began as a research associate at the Indiana University Foundation and was promoted to development analyst in 2011. In addition to assisting her science- and health-related clients with research, she has completed research for the IU and IU Foundation presidents as well as on international prospects. She received her undergraduate degrees from Ball State University and her master’s degree from Indiana University Bloomington. In her free time, she enjoys completing freelance editing and formatting work when not watching Thomas the Train with her toddler.