Don’t rely on your “Zestimate”!

It’s amazing how many people are looking on Zillow to find real estate information.  The site just seems to have come out of nowhere in the last couple of years to become one of the most popular sites in the country for consumers to search real estate related information.  Zillow claims to be the #1 site visited by homeowners to research on the value of their home.

The problem is that the information on home values is notoriously inaccurate.  Perhaps for a neighborhood of similar, newer construction homes, it has some value.  But for intown neighborhoods with the subtleties of location, neighboring homes, walkability and other factors, there is just no way a computer can give an accurate estimate of your home.

On the site itself, Zillow shows the error margin for their “Zestimates”.  Of course, they make it very hard for the consumer to find.  For example, in Fulton County, Georgia, the median margin of error is reported as 14.4% (March 23, 2011).  That means if a house sells for $200K, its Zestimate could actually have been as high as $228,800 and as low as $171,200.  WOW — that’s a $57,600 range on a $200K home.  Even more scary, since this is “median error”, that means only 50% of homes sold even fell in that $57,600 range — the other half of the Zestimates were even further off from the actual sale price.  Not accurate at all.

Another interesting statistic:  For homes in DeKalb County, Georgia, Zillow reports that their Zestimate is within 20% of the sales price only 55% of the time!

I find that when I go to meet with homeowners who are thinking of selling their homes, they are either too optimistic because their Zestimate is way too high, or they are in the depths of despair because their Zestimate is much lower than they can afford to sell.  I wonder how many people don’t even bother to call a REALTOR because they think they can’t sell their home?

My best advice:  If you are thinking of selling your home or are considering a refinance, be sure to call a REALTOR to make sure you have accurate market information.  Call a Neighborhood Specialist in your area to make sure that person knows the subtle nuances of the values in your neighborhood.

You might be surprised that the value of your home is higher than you thought.  Although probably not as high as you had hoped.   Hang in there — this tough real estate market won’t last forever!

posted: May 25, 2011 | No Responses

Posted by:  Wakamo & Associates

Melissa Wakamo and her dynamic team of agents and support staff provide buyer and seller clients with exceptional service and proven results. Since the start of her real estate career in 2004, Melissa has proven to be a true advocate for her clients and has consistently performed in the top 1% of agents

“When I started my real estate career, I wanted to work in my local community and get to know my neighbors. Now, I realize how important that local expertise is to our clients. At Red Robin REALTORS®, all of our agents are specialists in working with buyers and sellers in Atlanta’s intown neighborhoods.”

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