There’s an app for this, there’s an app for that. There’s an app for just about everything nowadays and yes, there’s even apps that calculate an estimate on a home’s value such as Zillow or Trulia.
But just how accurate are these home value estimation apps?
According to Zillow, a “Zestimate,” a portmanteau of “Zillow” and “estimate,” incorporates public and user-submitted data, taking into account home facts, location, and marketing conditions. However, Zillow does disclaim to users that a Zestimate is NOT an appraisal and it should only be used as a starting point.
And some TRC agents feel strongly about online home estimators.
“Zillow is all over the place,” said TRC Agent Cathy Russell. “When sellers look at Zillow and swear by it, I tell them ‘I didn’t realize Zillow has been in your home.’ I’m the LOCAL expert, not Zillow.” Russell said the online home estimator can be high and low and also confuse buyers. “The best thing is to contact your local expert to get the real deal,” said Russell.
A disclaimer on Zillow’s website reads, “We encourage buyers, sellers, and homeowners to supplement the Zestimate with other research such as visiting the home, getting a professional appraisal of the home, or requesting a comparative market analysis (CMA) from a real estate agent.”
“I don’t like Zillow too much, mostly because they don’t give an accurate status on the home,” said TRC Agent Rachel Uilk. “Once in a while I will cheat and look on Zillow for the estimate just to see how far off I am or if I am having significant issues coming up with a price. I think people double check us as realtors by using Zillow.”
Likewise, home estimator Trulia has a very similar stance, saying its estimates are, “An approximate calculation of a home’s market value. It is NOT an appraisal; it’s a starting point in determining a home’s value.”
When asked how far potential buyers should read into an online estimate, Russell said, “They should consider the estimate, but you shouldn’t argue with the experts.”
According to Zillow, the company publishes Zestimate home valuations for 97.5 million homes across the United States and uses millions of statistical and machine learning models that can examine hundreds of data points for each individual home. This data comes from county and tax accessor records and direct feeds from hundreds of multiple listing services and brokerages.
“The comparables don’t lie and that is what should be considered,” said Russell. “Most good agents have been in the comparables and can tell you exactly what they are like. Listen and evaluate with an open mind. Pricing is the most important part of marketing!”
So, next time you find yourself perusing around for a new home, keep in mind that the dollar amount you see online is no match for a professional real estate agent. Reach out to a TRC agent today!