Recently, we asked visitors to our website what specific questions they had and Diana asked this question:
When listing a home for sale, how accurate are sites like Zillow in their estimates of what you could list it for?
Zillow’s own disclaimer says that they can be up to 20% off. I find that zestimates are inaccurate but at the same time often can give you a ballpark. Kind of like those new builder signs that you see pop up all over town saying, “from the $200’s” but when you get there the price is $325K. So it’s not realistic but if you were just sort of curious I think it’s a great tool for getting the most vague reference point… which might be all you want.
The tool I like best if you’re looking for a DIY tool is Chase Home Evaluator, there’s no account needed. Although it does basically the same thing, the data seems to have more integrity. Chase isn’t trying to game Google or generate advertising dollar from agents it wants its customers to go to this tool and then decide to refinance with them.
With any tool you have to use your best judgement and try to make adjustments (realistic adjustments) to the value. In addition, most tools do well when you have a neighborhood that has similiarites like a subdivison like Hamilton Mill or where the buildings are the same like a townhome or Atlanta Condo. It doesn’t do as well where the architecture is diverse like it is in Brookhaven for example.
Certainly Zillow has come a bit further (although not much) but it’s really hard to trust a company’s evaluation if there’s no integrity.
Most agents would jump at an opportunity to do a market analysis for you (we would too!). I’d keep my cards close when discussing value because although the data can’t change sometimes agent’s motives can. They may want the listing so they over-promise – this is very common in the Gwinnett county area.
What we do is show you the comparable homes, tell you how the appraiser will see your home and give you advice on pricing but ultimately you are still in control. This is extremely hard to do when Zillow is even known to have duplicate listings that have different values!
Obviously I’m bias but the best thing to do is to talk to a Realtor and get an evaluation, it usually won’t cost you anything.
So to recap, How Accurate are sites like Zillow in their Estimates of What you Could List it for?
Not very. However you could use Zillow pretty much wherever there is high turnover and enough data to outweigh their scheming tactics like but I wouldn’t use it to figure out the value of your unique home in the city or rural area.
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