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 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.
ESTIMATES 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.
WHAT 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.
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.