How reliable is Zillow?

Zillow Zestimate Zonked

Frequently our clients, sooner or later, will allude to some listing or estimate they got from Zillow.  We as Realtors® dismiss the website just as net entertainment. When it comes to real estate, the compilation of this data will not necessarily provide you with a reliable, meaningful or accurate value for any given property.  From Zillow:

“The Zestimate (pronounced ZEST-ti-met, rhymes with estimate) home valuation is Zillow’s estimated market value, computed using a proprietary formula. It is not an appraisal. It is a starting point in determining a home’s value. The Zestimate is pulled from data; your real estate agent or appraiser physically inspects the home and takes special features, location, and market conditions into account. We encourage buyers, sellers, and homeowners to supplement Zillow’s information by doing other research such as:

  • Getting a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) from a real estate agent* Getting an appraisal from a professional appraiser.
  • Visiting the house (whenever possible)
  • Our data sources may be incomplete or incorrect; also, we have not physically inspected a specific home. Remember, the Zestimate is a starting point and does not consider all the market intricacies that can determine the actual price a house will sell for.”

So, if you are interested in getting some general and preliminary information about a particular area or neighborhood, then Zillow is a cool site to surf. (Zillow does not offer live information so there is a statistical lag time, sometimes months old.) However, if you are making an offer, you must get the help of a real estate agent familiar with the area to help you make use of the information.

We have found Zillow to have wide fluctuations in their estimates that do not reflect the facts on the ground. Only 33.3% of the 1.5 M properties listed in Zillow with Zestimates, in the Phoenix area, come within 5% of the actual sales price.

Agents, for instance, can’t determine the condition of a property by the listing description or even by the pictures that accompanied it. These sometimes, we find, are slightly manipulated for marketing purposes without having to be misrepresentations, but a subjective view of a given property. Therefore a formula can’t account for all of the nuances and variables, just as it cannot visit the property to confirm any of its presuppositions. So, we give Zillow 3 stars out of 5.

If you need a real Market Analysis on any property in Metropolitan Phoenix, we would be more than glad to email you one… free of charge.  Since we do not take listings, you can rest assured that no one is going to follow up to solicit one.