Profile picture for hstitan

Don't all comparables have to be within city limits of the subject property?

My comparables are mostly from a neighboring city that has lower property values.

In my specific case my property is in the city of Piedmont, CA and most of my comparables are in the city of Oakland, CA.

Zillow should correct this error for everyone.
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November 23 2010 - Piedmont
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Profile picture for Pasadenan
Zillow doesn't use comparable for the estimates; it uses a "least squares curve fit".  It also doesn't use neighborhood boundaries for the sales data used in the curve fit, but uses distance; more distance for rural, less distance for dense urban.

The comparables Zillow provides are for reference only and not used at all in the calculations.  What it chooses for comparables are based on similar size and #beds/baths, in the same "vicinity"; not necessarily the same city. with a "sold" price in the same range as the estimate.

If there is no recent sales in your city in the correct price range, the best Zillow can find is what is closest.  The comparables are not meant to be used for a CMA, but just for reference.

The "comparables" provided do not even take into consideration amount of land, so it may provide a "condo" as "comparable" to a single family residence, which it obviously is not.

It is not an "error", it is intentional.  But if you don't find this "information" helpful, it never hurts to tell Zillow what information you would find "more helpful", as it can always be added to the extremely long "wish list" of things for the 5 computer programmers to do.

Still, if there is nothing that sold in your city that is similar in the past six months, what info would you want Zillow to provide?
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November 23 2010
I understand in the new appraisal system, the time adjacency is paramount--we ran into this issue in Piedmont particularly 18 months ago in the winter, when there was very little closing activity.  Appraisers were FORCED to go to Montclair sales by their protocols.  I haven't seen this issue more recently as there have been many more Piedmont sales at hand.

A separate issue, which may underly the question, though, is "out of area" appraisers--some of the more "affordable" appraisers taking on jobs through the management companies don't realize that Piedmont is not Oakland--that is a different issue, and both the agent and the homeowner (in the case of a re-fi) have the right to ask the appraiser questions about their familiarity with the local market, and ask for an alternate if the appraiser don't "know" the market.  The time to ask questions is before the appraisal appointment though, because if it turns out the appraiser is from Manteca and does an unprofessional job (given Piedmont/Oakland price differentials) you'll have to pay for a second appraisal (and have an argument about why the first should be ignored.
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May 19 2011
Another reason to stress that Zillow is A resource, but not THE resource for market valuation.

This is a common complaint among Piedmont and Oakland buyers because the comps that show up on Zillow (and other sites) are mostly based on distance from the subject property.

The comps don't factor in the nuances of boundaries, particularly school districts --- which is one of the most important distinctions that make Piedmont most appealing to buyers.

For example, I just closed escrow on a property on Blair that is in the Piedmont school district. just three houses away is another property that is in the Oakland district. The school district made a world of difference in market value for the buyers with young children.

So although Zillow zestimate shows a lower value for the property I sold, the residents and the agents know better.
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February 28 2011
I can definitely see why that would bother you. However, as an agent, when I select comparables for an active listing, I occasionally may stray from political boundaries. The goal in that case is to identify other homes that a prospective buyer might also consider, and many potential buyers are not married to one neighborhood or even one city. It's more important that a home be similar in size, upkeep, and be in a similar neighborhood -- not necessarily the same one.
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November 24 2010
If you are just curious then spend some time compiling your own data on sales in your neighborhood by calling your neighbors or even contacting a Realtor that seems to have had some coverage in your area.  If they know you are just curious they may share some information over the phone without the sales pitch.  

If you are needing it because you are looking to list your house in the near future then I would contact a Realtor that has experience in your area and knows your neighborhood specifically (not just a Realtor).  I represent a rural part of California and when I do comparables, I start from scratch every time (no two properties are even close to being the same).  It's different when I head to a more suburban neighborhood.  I look at the sales data but I also determine what I know about the neighborhood.  Does this neighborhood have a high turn over?  Does it have a lot of rentals?  Are neighbors remodeling in tough times?  Are the yards not just tidy but well manicured?  Is it slowly gentrifying or is there a nice mix of young professionals and families that will be investing in the area?  I'd also ask your Realtor the price per square foot, I find that it gives you a quick and dirty snapshot of what the market will bear.
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November 24 2010
My experience is that Zillows factors in city limits...Example - Here shows you Beverly Hills NORTH of Whitworth, city of LA SOUTH. A 1650 sq ft home in Beverly Hills give a Zestimate of $1.2M, and for a similar sized/aged home south (it the city of LA) its around $900K just 1/2 block south. But as always, YMMV.

Typically in appraisals, all comps are located within the same city, unless the appraiser has limited sales data and/or he/she feels there is no market difference between the two cities in question.
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November 23 2010
Its not an appraisal, its an Zestimate.....

http://www.zillow.com/wikipages/What-is-a-Zestimate/
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November 23 2010
 
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