Why Our Website OWNS Zillow

Real Estate Agent with GoodFit Homes (with Keller Williams)

It seems like few folks in the market for a house these days haven't searched Zillow (or Trulia, or any other number of real estate sites.) You can even use Zillow to find out the current value of your home. why our website OWNS Zillow

But we're learning that Zillow isn't always all it's cracked up to be. On the sell side, Zillow's famous "Zestimates" are based on general information such as comps (sold prices of nearby homes), number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and not much more. If the house down the street from yours was a filthy dungheap that sold for a song six months ago, but your home is immaculate, Zillow doesn't know. Your Zestimate is going to take a big hit.

On the buy side, it's worse. Zillow does not have what can be called an "accurate inventory" by any stretch of the words. Listings are not kept up-to-date. Homes that go under contract, or are sold or even withdrawn from the market are left on the site. (These real estate sites like to claim to have more listings than their competition.)

For this article, I did a bit of my own research. I used Zillow's search tool to look for 3-bed, 2-bath, single-family homes for sale in our zip code from $150,000 to $200,000. The search returned 51 properties that matched my search. For simplicity, I ignored each house that was labeled as Pending or Foreclosure/Bank-Owned. That left 29 houses.

Of those 29, 7 were categorized as "Make Me Move." This is a feature that lets homeowners enter their address and the price that they would be willing to sell their home for. To me, this is a joke. First of all, most of these entries were over 3 years old. More importantly, none of these houses are even on the market, so the whole thing seems pointless.

Ok. So if we take away the absurd Make Me Move category, we're left with 22 houses. I went through, house by house, checking these against the MLS (the Multiple Listing Service used by all realtors.) Three of them had incomplete or incorrect addresses and were impossible to look up. Eleven of them were already pending, under contract, sold or withdrawn. Eleven! The remaining nine were actually active, available listings that someone else hasn't already gotten to first.

So, folks, based on my unscientific experiment, when you search for homes on Zillow, you can expect about 31% of your results to be accurate, reliable information. If you are careful to ignore the "Make Me Move" homes, then your accuracy rate jumps all the way up to 50%.

What's a tech-savvy, self-motivated, Denver Metro Area homebuyer to do? I'm glad you asked! Registering for free on our website will give you access to a search tool that uses the MLS: the same one we realtors use. It's the most up-to-date, accurate information on housing inventory there is. Don't waste time requesting showings for houses that aren't even for sale.

And if you're wondering what your home is worth, you can request a free estimate from Marty. We guarantee it will be more accurate than Zillow.


Donald Urschalitz
Lubeck Realty Group - Jupiter, FL
P.A. Realtor ABR RSPS North Palm Beach County

Try RPR from NAR, it kills Zillow.

May 15, 2012 10:33 AM
Laurie Mindnich
Centennial, CO

In our area, the zestimates fail to take into account waterfront in the neighborhood- so, a sale recorded that sits on the bay, with a beach area, is calculated when "zestimating" the price of the house a few streets down- no waterfront- just a yard...elevating that price to completely UNREALISTIC levels.  A mess.

May 15, 2012 10:33 AM
Margo Currie
Exit 1 Stop Realty - Saint Augustine Beach, FL

Great post. Thank you so much. We've had many customers find inaccurate information on Zillow.

May 15, 2012 10:34 AM
Erv Fleishman
Realty Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Luxury Prop Specialist Realty Associates

Why the fascination with Zillow?

The guy next door drives a Volkswagon and is happy. You drive a Rolls Royce.

Do you write about the VW or just go about your way?

May 15, 2012 10:36 AM
Eric Peltier
Eric Peltier - Premier Mortgage Group - Boulder Colorado - Boulder, CO
Mortgage Lender in Boulder CO

Part of the problem with Zillow is that it's pulling from public records for sf and room count, and we all know how accurate public records are!

May 15, 2012 10:47 AM
Marty & Jaclyn Reiswig
GoodFit Homes (with Keller Williams) - Centennial, CO
Specialty: First-timers

Donald, you're right: RPR is awesome. We use that frequently.

Erv, we're just doing what we always do: providing information and useful tools to our clients and potential clients. Hopefully we'll save some folks some time. We had some clients a while back who sent us a slew of homes from Zillow they hoped to see, and we had to keep disappointing them by saying, "Sorry, that's not actually on the market anymore."

Thanks for the feedback, everyone!

May 15, 2012 12:28 PM