Texas Homeowners: Relying on a Zillow Zestimate Could Lead You Astray

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Providence Group Realty TREC# 0608931

 Relying on a Zillow Zestimate Could Lead Texas Homeowners Astray

Zillow last updated their Zestimate Accuracy Table in June 2014. 

As Texas Realtors, we advise our clients and customers not to rely on third-party website estimates of value. Zillow openly displays their data coverage and Zestimate accuracy chart, and explains that accuracy for Texas properties is not reliable due to the lack of available data.

Texas, as a non-disclosure state, does not publish sales prices for sold homes. Sold pirces are one of the key variables in the Zestimate algorithm. In fact, Zillow publishes accuracy rates by Texas Counties. The overwhelming majority of Texas counties fall in the 0-1 star rating.

zestimate accuracy


How Relying on a Website Estimate Could Harm a Texas Homeowner

Greg Nino posted an article in 2013 describing how he was wrongly declined for homeowner's insurance by a carrier who inappropriately relied on Zillow's Zestimate for replacement value. The Zestimate for his address reflected a value that far exceeded the fair market value, thus making it appear to be an undesirable risk for the carrier.

Prospective Texas home sellers and home buyers who reference website estimates (Zillow, Trulia, etc...) can also fall into the same trap of believing an inaccurate value is reflective of a property's worth. On either side of the equation (buying or selling), believing in a distorted number could cause costly decision errors relating to overpricing or underpricing.

A Better Option for Texas Consumers

A more reliable estimate for real property can be obtained by working with a licensed Realtor to obtain a Comparable Market Analysis (CMA). A CMA typically looks at for-sale, pending, and recently sold properties in a given area (most commonly limited to the subdivision or within a specific radius of the subject property), to compare normalizing values (like the price per square foot for homes of similar size and condition -- or the price per acre for lots and land). A sharp Realtor will be able to help advise on other comparable factors which could help capture key advantage points in price negotitions, such as upgrades, improvements, and environmental factors that could affect the value of a given property. CMAs are typically complimentary, and provided in conjunction with a listing appointment, or as part of service delivery for a Buyer engaged in a representation agreement with a licensed Realtor.

Two additional options could also include retaining the services of a Realtor / Broker for the benefit of a Broker's Price Opinion, or hiring an appraiser to perform an appraisal of a property. Keep in mind, however, that as a Seller, an appraisal secured directly will have no value or use to a Buyer's lender, and an independent appraisal would still need to be ordered.


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John Wiley
Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL, ECO Broker, GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

Amanda, you are correct that the consumer needs better information than they get on the big sites. There is not substitute for a good profession Real Estate agent who is current on the local market. The message needs to be heard loud and clear.


Aug 08, 2014 03:29 AM #1
Bruce Walter
Keller Williams Realty Lafayette/West Lafayette, Indiana - West Lafayette, IN

Amanda, this is a great heads up for your Texas buyers and sellers, and for all those consumers on shore and sea who follow you, to choose a real estate professional like yourself.  Ironically the last time Godzillow's Gastimate(hot air for sure) torpedoed a sale for us was a buyer from Texas!!!  I wish you had written this earlier so we could have sent it to the selling agent!!!

Aug 08, 2014 06:42 AM #2
Wayne Johnson
Coldwell Banker D'Ann Harper REALTORS® - San Antonio, TX
San Antonio REALTOR, San Antonio Homes For Sale

Amanda-We get inquiries from Trulia and Zillow after a closing requesting sales data. I don't provide the sales information because we are a non-disclosure state.

Aug 10, 2014 01:51 AM #3
Kevin J. May
Florida Supreme Realty - Hobe Sound, FL
Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida

Amanda, it amazes me that Zillow can rate their accuracy with Gold Stars and appear to be comfortable with nearly 12.5% margins,  either + or -, as the best effort.  

Aug 10, 2014 11:10 PM #4
Amanda Thomas
Providence Group Realty - Plano, TX
​Broker, SRES®, BPOR, MCNE, ​Certified DRS Agent™

Wayne Johnson , that is the right thing to do! In fact, TAR published a warning to this effect late last year. Thanks for helping to get the word out.

Kevin J. May, it's good to be king? :-)

Bruce Walter -- 'Godzillow's Guestimate' - nice one!

John Wiley -- like so many things in real estate, until the consumer becomes more educated and more demanding, our industry will not see the change it needs.


Aug 11, 2014 10:39 PM #5
Richard Woodward NMLS#217454
Service First Mortgage, NMLS #166487 - Dallas, TX
Service Beyond Expectations! Your Texas Lender

Great information Amanda Thomas and I completely agree with you.


Aug 14, 2014 05:01 AM #6
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

Information from the sites like Z. is based on a limited set of facts about a house, such as square footage an number of rooms. However, those AVMs may miss important factors, like  a desirable school district, view, noisy street exposure, privacy, etc. You have to compare the subject property to identical or similar and make all proper adjustments since rarely properties are the same( condition, location, layout, sqft, etc.)

Nov 04, 2017 10:59 PM #7
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Amanda Thomas

​Broker, SRES®, BPOR, MCNE, ​Certified DRS Agent™
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