Insurance agents and companies have "home evaluation forms" which when filled out produce an answer to this question. Included are things like square footage, age, materials used, renovations if any, fixtures, appliances. I was on the phone with a very sweet ex-Digit whose second career involves selling insurance through AAA and he was churning through this stuff and came up with a number which he was convinced had to be wrong. Let's call the first digit N.
R. and I had at various points speculated about cost-to-build, partly because we were contemplating adding on to our current home, partly in a (not too succesful) effort to assess the reality of asking prices.
Oh, btw, did I mention that 76 Hill St in Concord, which we drove by on Father's Day last year, is now asking 749900? I have the printout from last year -- they wanted 849000 back then. Hooooo boy.
In any event, the first digit of the asking price on our house (which we offered), was N+1. Remember, the housing lot doesn't get destroyed -- insurers insure the structure. And one assumes that a nearly one acre buildable lot in Acton, MA is worth _something_.
I'm inclined to think the estimate the guy on the phone came up with was about right. And it makes me feel pretty good about what we're paying. I also thought it was sweet that he was trying to yank the eval around a couple different ways in an effort to get the numbers down to save us a buck or two on the premium (which, I might add, I thought was utterly reasonable).
Oh, and it turns out that auto insurance in Massachusetts is no longer completely insane. At least not if you live in Acton. It looks like we'll be paying _less_ than we do currently in NH.