The home price puzzle: which reports should you care about?

You may hear on the evening news or in your local paper that "home values were down 5% last month" or "foreclosures doubled," but what does all that really mean to you? For the most part, not a whole lot.

Our friends at Bankrate.com just put out this article that does a good job looking at three of the major home valuation reports or "indexes" that are often cited in the media.

Now, you may be thinking, this is too much work for me to look at all these reports and try to figure out what my home is worth. For that very reason, web sites like Zillow.com and Cyberhomes have popped up in the past few years, to offer you a real-time look at what your home may or may not be worth. Real Estate ABC also has a home valuation tool. AOL's real estate channel has a home values page, powered by Cyberhomes, for free. But the value for your home can vary widely from site to site, so if you really want to get dirty, here's an overview of the three major indices.