To "Zillow" or Not to "Zillow" - that is the question. (I'ts nobler to use a Realtor(R))

By
Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Preferred Properties

What about Zillow.com?  Should it be used to determine the value of any property?

 "I can do it myself" can cost you much more than you may have thought.

Here's a fresh comparison of Properties' Listed Prices, Sold Prices and Zillow's "Zestimate" for three different communities (Prices are rounded).  You can see that Zillow is simply not even close.  Whether you are trying to determine value to purchase a property or determine the value of you home in order to sell, using Zillow as the valuation tool will leave you without precision, and without more dollars in you pocket.

Zillow is an interesting novelty item though!  Play with it but dont "use" it, unless playing with matches, gasoline and cash is OK with you.

Penderbrook Community (Detached) - Fairfax, VA 22033 (BELOW)

 

 

 

 

 

Zillow

Zillow

2007

 

 

 

 

 

List

Sold

Settle

Address

 

LIST

SOLD

ZILLOW

Difference

Difference

Month

3723 Center Way

 

$650,000

$626,000

$669,000

$19,000.00

($43,000.00)

Jan

11919 Parkside Dr.

 

$680,000

$680,000

$707,000

$27,000.00

($27,000.00)

Feb

3748 Center Way

 

$759,000

$759,000

$737,000

($22,000.00)

$22,000.00

Feb

11901 Parkside Dr.

 

$695,000

$689,000

$641,000

($54,000.00)

$48,000.00

Apr

3758 Center Way

 

$740,000

$740,000

$670,000

($70,000.00)

$70,000.00

May

3781 Center Way

 

$769,000

$760,000

$724,000

($45,000.00)

$36,000.00

May

 

Mantua Community (Detached) - Fairfax, VA 22031 (BELOW)

 

 

 

 

 

Zillow

Zillow

2007

 

 

 

 

 

List

Sold

Settle

Address

 

LIST

SOLD

ZILLOW

Difference

Difference

Month

9125 Saint Marks

$687,000

$650,000

$695,000

$8,000.00

($45,000.00)

Jan

9340 Tovito

$689,000

$665,000

$613,000

($76,000.00)

$52,000.00

Jan

9115 Glenbrook

$600,000

$600,000

$633,000

$33,000.00

($33,000.00)

Feb

3216 Wynford

$750,000

$720,000

$654,000

($96,000.00)

$66,000.00

Feb

8609 Hillside

$769,000

$663,000

$714,000

($55,000.00)

($51,000.00)

Feb

3615 Laurel Leaf

$989,000

$925,000

$812,000

($177,000.00)

$113,000.00

Mar

9213 Santayana

$625,000

$625,000

$565,000

($60,000.00)

$60,000.00

Mar

3510 Prince William

$799,000

$760,000

$708,000

($91,000.00)

$52,000.00

Mar

9311 Coronado

$745,000

$730,000

$663,000

($82,000.00)

$67,000.00

Mar

9303 Christopher

$735,000

$715,000

$653,000

($82,000.00)

$62,000.00

Mar

9303 Swinburne

$699,000

$690,000

$582,000

($117,000.00)

$108,000.00

Mar

9224 Briary

$715,000

$690,000

$721,000

$6,000.00

($31,000.00)

Apr

8815 Arlington Blvd

$799,000

$787,000

$738,000

($61,000.00)

$49,000.00

Apr

9027 Pixie

$675,000

$675,000

$615,000

($60,000.00)

$60,000.00

May

9127 Saint Marks

$849,000

$815,000

$677,000

($172,000.00)

$138,000.00

May

3225 Barbara

$675,000

$655,000

$631,000

($44,000.00)

$24,000.00

May

 

Virginia Center Community (Townhomes at Vienna Metro) - Vienna, VA 22181 (BELOW)

 

 

 

 

 

Zillow

Zillow

2007

 

 

 

 

 

List

Sold

Settle

Address

 

LIST

SOLD

ZILLOW

Difference

Difference

Month

9394 Van Arsdale

$650,000

$645,000

$642,000

($8,000.00)

$3,000.00

Apr

9544 Lagersfield

$690,000

$692,000

$663,000

($27,000.00)

$29,000.00

Apr

9596 Lagersfield

$655,000

$660,000

$590,000

($65,000.00)

$70,000.00

Apr

2717 Earls

$665,000

$645,000

$626,000

($39,000.00)

$19,000.00

May

Comments (11)

Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

How does anyone expect software to value properties when most agents can't?  Zillow isn't so much about valuation as it is selling advertising and home values are the hook.  They don't have to be accurate, they just have to have buyers and sellers believe that they are.

"Perception is reality to the uninformed."

 

Jun 08, 2007 06:31 AM
Tim Maitski
Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage - Atlanta, GA
Truth, Excellence and a Good Deal
It's an interesting toy.  It gets attention but it's not something to base a big decision on.
Jun 08, 2007 06:46 AM
Pete Tsakiris
Countrywide Home Loans a Division of Countrywide Bank, FSB - Saint Charles, IL
absolutely not
Jun 08, 2007 06:47 AM
Christine Zheng
Keller Williams Downtown - Denver, CO
I would say no... Zillow said my house was a 4 bed 2 bath luxury home, while the realty is that I would love to have the extra invisible 2 bedrooms zilliow said I should have...
Jun 08, 2007 07:04 AM
Melissa Olson
HOPE Lending LLC - Bellevue, WA
HOPE Lending LLC

I am so glad to see someone posted some statistics of Zillow and how inaccurate it is.  I would also agree with the comment posted that it is to attract sellers.  My fear is FSBO are using this and becoming frustrated when they can't sell their home by the Zillow value so they walk away pretty unhappy.

There is a good reason why we use Realtor's.....they are the market expert.  Between them, the appraiser, and a good RE Attorney the seller can still move on happy.

Regards.

Jun 08, 2007 07:33 AM
Mother Lode
Real Living Sugar Pine Realty - Sonora, CA
Real Estate Master
I searched for the home I live in on Zillow. It was overpriced and on the wrong side of the street! So much for Zillow.
Jun 08, 2007 08:08 AM
Becky Troutt
No longer practicing real estate as of 2008. - Bradenton, FL

What a clever idea.  Never thought about comparing the prices like you have done.  I'm going to do the same thing! 

Thanks for the idea!!

Jun 08, 2007 09:01 AM
Anonymous
jf.sellsius
Lenn Harley's comment was the best (and shortest) encapsulation of zillow I have ever read. 
Jun 09, 2007 05:09 AM
#8
Melissa Olson
HOPE Lending LLC - Bellevue, WA
HOPE Lending LLC
Clay & Kathie - Just wanted to send a note that I've linked your blog to my post How to get the BEST APPRAISAL.  Thanks again for posting!
Jun 19, 2007 08:05 AM
Anonymous
M.M.

I don't want to defend zillow, but let's at least compare apples with apples.  Zillow should be compared with an appraiser or realtor giving their value of each house.  You might use the list price as the realtor's price, but this assumes some things that we can't tell by the statistics.  Also, the selling price may not accurately reflect the actual value.  In those cases where the sale price is the same or very close to the list price, it might be the case that the list price was really too low and the seller lost potential sale money.  In some cases the seller may prefer a quick sale under value than wait for a higher sale at value.  There's no way to know this by mere statistics.

Also, consider that zillow is new and will no doubt improve over time, as search engines, online maps, digital cameras, and other technologies have improved.  A more fair comparison would be to look at appraisers or realtors on their first few houses with no supervision.  Were you as accurate on your first few houses as you are today?

Obviously, zillow doesn't know many of the specifics of a house.  If anything, it should be used like the blue book is for a car.  If you know your house has something more than typical in your neighborhood, or if there are problems, the price should be adjusted accordingly.  Car sales vary a lot from blue book prices, but this is still a widely used standard.

No, I don't have any interest or relation to zillow, but I don't like the misleading use of statistics, which I see here.

 

 

 

Jul 06, 2007 11:14 AM
#10
Sonsie Conroy
I serve buyers and sellers everywhere in San Luis Obispo County - San Luis Obispo, CA
Energetic, Enthusiastic, Knowledgeable Realtor

When you lookat Zillow, it's important to be sure the details of the house are correct. Zillow uses public records for the most part, and of course they don't contain the most updated information. Owners can "claim" their homes and update the information themselves...I've done mine, and the Zestimate" is pretty close to reality for this RE market.

OTOH, a friend in Los Angeles (also a Realtor) lives in an apartment that is part of a two-apartment complex built over the garage of a two-bedroom home in the West L.A. area. Zillow doesn't show the apartments at all (although they are visible in the photo of the block). So, the Zestimate for her property is about 300,000-500,000 low. Add the additional information, and suddenly the price is pretty accurate.

Agents actually look at the homes they are evaluating, can see the condition, actual number of rooms, neighborhood, etc. No computer program can do that, so obviously humans will always do better than computers at valuing real estate. However, a site like Zillow can be a big help IF the listings you are looking at have been updated.

Jul 13, 2008 05:45 PM