What Carlsbad Home Buyers Should Consider When Using Zillow

Real Estate Agent with Solutions Real Estate CA DRE #01490977

Home Searches and Estimates of Value

What You Should Know About Zillow


You may or may not be using Zillow in your Carlsbad home search – but many buyers do. If you are a Zillow user, however, there are some important things to understand about this popular website.


By the way, if you are also planning to sell your Carlsbad home, there are things homeowners should know about when using Zillow.


Searching online on ZillowSEARCHING ON ZILLOW

First, Zillow commonly pulls listings from other websites, as other sites do, and as a result some listings you see may not be accurate or up to date.


That’s not to say you should not use Zillow for home searches.


But be aware some listings that appear on Zillow have already been sold or are not actually available (e.g., some pre-foreclosure and foreclosure listings – they are marked that way so watch for this). And in some cases pricing may not be accurate.


As you are searching for homes, you should also keep in mind that not all public listings are on Zillow.


So what does that mean for you?


You may miss out on properties that fit your needs and budget if you only use this site for your home searching. Just this morning I looked in my Carlsbad zip code of 92010 – the MLS has 24 detached single family homes for sale, while Zillow shows 14!


Talk with your Realtor about getting the up to date listing information you need and to check on listings that interest you when you find them on your own.


Online estimates of valueESTIMATES OF VALUE 

Secondly, you probably know that Zillow provides estimates of value for homes called Zestimates. The issue with Zestimates is that they are often incorrect – they may be low or they may be high for a given property, and sometimes that difference can be thousands and thousands of dollars.


This is true for other online estimators as well, and the differences among them can be significant in some cases.


Why is this important to know?


It is obviously not a smart strategy to make an offer on a property if a Zestimate is wrong. Unfortunately, if you are not working with a Realtor you won’t know if that’s true.


Using a Zestimate, or any other online valuation, is not the right way to come up with an appropriate offer price – your Realtor will help by reviewing looking at comparable recent sales and other information to advise you on what the market value really is and how to make the best offer, especially if you are competing with other agents.


Consider this. Making an offer based on a Zestimate that is lower than what the true market value is means you will likely not be successful. (Read more about other ways that buyers can sabotage their offers.)


On the other hand, you certainly would not want to submit an offer on a home based on Zestimate that is higher than market value if that’s the case. I know a recent seller whose Zestimate was substantially below what 3 Realtors told him the current market value was (they were all the same). Good thing he listened when listing rather than going with the Zestimate (interestingly one other popular online valuation was almost $100K over the market value).


As a concerned buyer you should understand that online home value estimates do not take into account some factors that influence a home’s true market value, such as location, views, amenities and condition, which is why they may not be accurate. Realtors, and appraisers, know this, and know how to make the appropriate adjustments in pricing. I don’t think Zestimates can do that!


And these evaluations might not be based on appropriate comparable sales, such as including a single story home sale when the subject property is a 2-story, or a recent refinance on the house.


Home Buyer HandbookWHAT TO DO

Bottom line? There is nothing wrong with using Zillow to search.


Just be aware of potential problems around accuracy and missing listings.


And as far as looking home value estimates up, while you might enjoy the immediate response of learning what homes you like MAY be worth according to Zillow, a prudent buyer will not make buying decisions based on Zestimates, or any other online estimations, at least if you want to successfully buy a home.


It's important to  talk to your Realtor for the most sound and accurate advice!!


When searching on Zillow, or other sites, if there are particular properties in Carlsbad or nearby that interest you, feel free to contact me at (760) 840-1360 so we can discuss your particular needs and budget, and verify those properties for you in the MLS. And of course we’ll discuss the market value after seeing a home you like if you are ready to make an offer.


You can search the complete inventory in Carlsbad by clicking on the photo to the right (the MLS is updated 24/7).


Or we can discuss your budget and criteria and I will set up a custom search for you for Carlsbad, or nearby.


If I can help further in any way, or answer any questions about the housing market conditions, the purchase or sale process, or specific neighborhoods, please reach out to me at (760) 840-1360.



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Pete Cullen ~ Broker Associate
Bailey Properties, Inc. - Santa Cruz, CA
Serving The Entire Monterey Bay Area

Thank's for the post Jeff, great info!  Happy Friday from Santa Cruz, CA !

Aug 17, 2018 09:42 AM #21
Jon Kolsky
Kolsky Realty & Management - Long Beach, CA
Licensed California Real Estate Broker

Jeff Dowler, CRS ~ I love this post, it is very informative... The one thing that I see differently is "there's nothing wrong using Z" I would argue that for the best information you should always go directly to the source. And in this case not only is Z "not" the direct source, Z is not even regulated...(my 2cents) 

Aug 17, 2018 09:58 AM #22
Kevin Mackessy
Blue Olive Properties, LLC - Highlands Ranch, CO
Dedicated. Qualified. Local.

Our Denver MLS is pretty in tune with Zillow.  We haven't had too many issues with out of date listings for our buyers.  

Aug 17, 2018 02:10 PM #23
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Joe Pryor 

And some resources are better than others, right? Consumers don't always know that.

Have a great weekend!


Aug 17, 2018 04:37 PM #25
Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Good evening Jeff Dowler, CRS ,

Excellent post and so glad to see it featured. In Texas we are a non-disclosure state so Zillow is really off in their Zestimates!! I'm always having to explain this!!

Aug 17, 2018 05:10 PM #26
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Kathy Streib  - no arguments here about using a knowledgeable professional for getting the best information on the housing market!


Aug 17, 2018 05:17 PM #27
John Henry
John Henry Masterworks Design International, Inc. - Orlando, FL
Residential Architect, Luxury Custom Home Design

Hey Jeff, good rundown on the negs and pos's of Zillow.  I don't have access to MLS but I wonder if Zillow has some way of determining condition of a house as it seems some waterfront property here in Maitland doesn't seem to be priced correctly.  Anyhoo.

I bounced onto your listings and WOW.  Carlsbad is awesome!  What great beaches and real estate!  No wonder you must love it there!

Aug 18, 2018 04:30 AM #28
Christina Steinhaus
Coldwell Banker Residential Property - West Palm Beach, FL
Real Estate Agent serving the Palm Beaches

Great article!

Aug 18, 2018 04:47 AM #29
Scott Godzyk
Godzyk Real Estate Services - Manchester, NH
One of Manchester NH's Leading Agents

Jeff Dowler, CRS There is no doubt Z brings more cinsumers with questions to me than any other source. From estimates to homes on line but not for sale anymore. 

Aug 18, 2018 06:39 AM #30
Mike Cooper, GRI
Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro

Jeff, I worked with a buyer for over a year looking for the right home. She would send me 2-10 listings she wanted to see. There were days where they were all sold and as far back as 2009. She thought there was something wrong with me and my ability to search homes. No, it was Zs poor housekeeping. 

Aug 18, 2018 09:25 AM #32
Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!
Prado Real Estate South - St. George, UT
So Utah Residential, Referral & Relocation REALTOR

Fantastic article Jeff! I hope someday they are held accountable for their inaccuracies on many levels. They say they are there to start a conversation with consumers, while instead, misleading the consumer!

Aug 18, 2018 03:45 PM #33
Eva B. Liland with Century 21 Doug Anderson
Century 21 Doug Anderson - Lancaster, CA
Glad to be of Service

Currently I have a listing and we lowered the price on it but Zillow kept the old price on it unfortunately.

Aug 19, 2018 10:31 AM #34
Anne Corbin
Long and Foster - Lake Anna - Spotsylvania, VA
Serving Lake Anna & Central Virginia

Zillow still shows my property as lot only. I've had a house on it for 4 years.

Aug 20, 2018 06:03 AM #35
Marney Kirk
Cummings & Co. Realtors - Towson, MD
Towson, Maryland Real Estate

Jeff, this is a great post! Buyers really do need to realize that Zillow may be a great place to start, but that a local professional is much more in tune with market value and what is actually available!

Aug 21, 2018 07:14 AM #36
Virginia Kazlouskas (Gregory)
Harmony Real Estate, Inc. - Hudson, NH
Your Southern NH Realtor!

When Z is inaccurate and they make mistakes a lot, you also spend your own time fixing it... sometimes to no avail. User friendly but it's surely not up date.

Aug 21, 2018 10:31 AM #37
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Excellent blog!  You give all the reasons why buyers need to do more due diligence rathern than just accept what they see/find on Zillow.  Buyers in your area would be wise to seek your advice with your many years in the business!  

Aug 23, 2018 06:11 PM #38
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Debe Maxwell, CRS 

I suspect online valuations are NOT going to go away, and unless something changes they are not going to get much more accurate. But the good news for us is we know how they work, where they are wrong, and can continue to educate our buyers and sellers.


Aug 23, 2018 09:14 PM #39
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Thanks Gita Bantwal  Hopefully they will!

Steven Nickens  Totally agree with you about the value of a local agent. Any agent worth their salt can tell you more about market value than Z.


Aug 23, 2018 09:16 PM #40
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Gad Francine Viola  can you imagine relying on Z to come up with pricing? Yes, I think it makes sense to look at Zestimates so we are prepared with speaking with sellers, but beyond that it makes no sense!


Aug 23, 2018 09:19 PM #41
Debe Maxwell, CRS
www.iCharlotteHomes.com | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods

I agree - seeing an end to them would be a dream-come-true but, as you said, we otherwise continue to educate, educate, educate!

Happy Thursday, Jeff!

Aug 23, 2018 09:31 PM #42
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Jeff Dowler, CRS

The Southern California Relocation Dude
What's my Carlsbad CA Area Home Worth??
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