Why is Zillow so "out of touch" with home values……….Seriously!!!!! You are almost $300000 off,

This is using an actual appraisal on a home and Zillow keeps decreasing the amount when all the values in this area are going up up up!!!!!!! Very Wrong!!!! I wouldn't trust your company with any of my real estate issues!!!!!!! Get out of the business!!
  • January 12 2012 - Montgomery
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Answers (72)

Thank you so much to everyone for this information. I am an agent but not working real estate at the time.  I gave this listing to RREA who I was working for and would not let me list my own home but canceled the listing in November due to leasing my home and moving to Austin. I had no idea this was still online and being advertised still. Thanks so much again….. I just notified this company and her response is:  "It's bc google crawlers don't go by very often to update bc they are crappy sites. They auto feed from google. That's one disadvantage of the information age - once online it can stay forever if the webmaster is not updating the site. It will eventually drop off, but I have no control over how long it will take."  This is all very interesting…...
  • January 13 2012
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...MLS's are starting to crack down hard on websites like Zillow & Trulia and I see the real estate associations at some point stepping in to make a huge change..

Can you say "anti trust"? Of course you can! I knew you could!
  • January 13 2012
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Profile picture for Blue in d Nile
Of course, we know that Zillow doesn't provide any index trends for Texas (yet) due to it being a non-disclosure state, but maybe with improved estimates from the listing prices, they may eventually.  But the sudden downturn last year (or possibly earlier) on the one property in question led me to question what is on the local info pages for Montgomery anyway...

So, list price per sqft?


(movement counter to the estimate trends).

Price reductions?


(No significant change)

Median Rent list prices?


Some decline, but doesn't appear to account for estimate trend.

Thus, the only conclusion I can come up with is the limited amount of listings surrounding the selected location of the property, and since all 4 have it located in the wrong location, one would have to correct it first to have any meaningful trends.  And we already know that changes in the details does not affect past calculations.  However, Zillow did indicate they would be re-calculating from 1996 forward once they have resolved a few more details on some "improvements" to their methods that they are working on.

  • January 13 2012
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Buyers who are reading articles, researching and finding out as much info as they can about the areas/properties they are interested in are the buyers who are saavy enough to understand that an estimate is just that, an estimate.

Buyers who trust a computer generated estimate of value over the agent they have decided to use to help them purchase what is probably the largest investment of their lives, have started off badly. 

An agent should have absolutely no problem making it clear what the recent sold comparables are and justifying the range they suggest for their buyers for a particular property. 
Its normally pretty easy to very quickly get an idea of values in a particular 'hood based on concrete sales and who in their right mind would accept a Zestimate as being more accurate than recent sold comparables and the current competition? 

I agree that Zillow needs to address more proactively the angst it is causing a sizable number of people but I think agents should realize that being on the front lines gives us the responsibility to educate.

  • January 13 2012
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Profile picture for Jesse Storm
Zillow is just an estimate on the price based off of public tax info and prices other homes have sold for in the area. This is why you should always call your Real Estate Professional to give you more of an idea of the real numbers. Also listings are loaded to the system by people and capture programs. This being said if some one or when someone posts a false ad on craigslist or backpage or some other website and the zillow capture program pulls it is they will display an untrue listing.  
  • January 13 2012
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Profile picture for Blue in d Nile
Well, it is not too often that we get to see 4 independent estimating trends for the same property, using exactly the same method, but slightly different input data due to discrepancies on the home details pages...

So, I thought I would overlay the trends, just to see how they compare.  (Thanks Ellen, for providing an incentive to do this little "exercise"):


web address for full sized image:
http://photos2.zillow.com/is/image/i0/i10/i9852/IS-t3x08vjou3h.jpg
  • January 13 2012
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Profile picture for SanDiegoRealty1
@Rchan81 Lets face it, the average user on here is either a first time home buyer, a "do it yourself" type of person, or is trying to learn how to. Otherwise, they're going directly to agents and having us do the search from the beginning.

So a first time buyer or "do it yourselfer"contacts an agent from zillow by requesting more information on a property.

Now, the buyer knows as much about that agent as what is displayed on their profile and what they find on the internet, which means, they still need to build trust. Since the buyer really only wants more info on the property, they don't really care about the agent unless the property is something they're really interested in.

Now they have been searching zillow for awhile (average person searching for a home starts 1+ year in advance) and reading a bunch of articles, (which a lot of the times are not related to a hyper local market unless they included that in their search), so they think they "know it all" now....and they credit zillow for that knowledge....not one specific agent.

QUESTION: When it comes time to make an offer and 1 person (who you just meet) tells you their opinion of value which differs from the source that gave you more knowledge over the past year of searching for a home (zillow), who would you first trust?

Well, don't bite the hand that feeds you, right? So, they look to zillow first and since the inaccuracies of zillow estimates are more in the fine print than as a sidebar advertisement, they still trust zillow. That is, until they either don't get their offer accepted or they have to reduce the price because they bid over the actual appraised value.

  • January 13 2012
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"...that not all agents aren't properly educating themselves...."

As if that paragraph isn't worded awkwardly enough....Sheesh.  Passed the dang edit window. 

Anyway, I'm hoping you all know what I mean.

  • January 13 2012
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Seeing a number, unasked for by the property owner, next to your house on a public website DOES matter, obviously to a lot of people. 

There's a huge disconnect between what some assume is glaringly obvious- that Zestimates shouldn't be used on its own by any serious buyer or seller or determine fair market value (or even worse, by any lending institution) and what is really happening-  that people don't make the time or effort very often to see past that number and that not all agents aren't properly educating themselves and the general public as to how to use the Zestimate.
  • January 13 2012
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Profile picture for pdot95
Wow, I'm not from Texas or anything, but really, you people need to relax, sheesh.  You want to know what's wrong with the country, people are way to sue-happy.  Clearly!!!  If you don't want a zestimate, then pay for an actual appraisal and don't put your houses on zillow.  And anyways, really, appraisals mean nothing.  Your house is only worth what a person is willing to pay for it. 
  • January 13 2012
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Profile picture for Caveat Emptor
its hard not to be arrogant when the mental pigmies of the world spend so many hours shouting about anything and everything that doesn't matter in the face of the things that really matter.

But I agree that the whole cyber stalking thing is creepy, and have said so. i file both this thread and pasa's i know what you did last summer routine under "dont feed the trolls."

words to live by.
  • January 13 2012
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Profile picture for Rchan81
@Patrick - I don't see how Zillow ruined deals for your buyers.  Assuming the seller in this deal had a higher Zestimate on the property and wasn't selling at market value.  That wouldn't ruin the deal, the property theoretically will sit on the market until reality sets in.  On the other hand if the Zestimate was low and your buyers wouldn't increase their prices, isn't that your job to educate them?  It is really easy to place blame elsewhere...
  • January 13 2012
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Ellen, this topic is a constant on Zillow, it often dominates the Q&A forum (even more so these days due to the persistence of some) and I agree that too many people don't see the word "estimate" in Zestimate, they just see the number.  Too many people get upset about it without taking the time to read what it really is. This is excusable for the general public who are just looking for a quick free service, something which is there to give them an idea of values in a particular area, a range which should be glaringly obvious is only as good as what information is processed to reach it.

However, I find it somewhat shocking that you are an agent and instead of educating people as to what the Zestimate actually is and therefore lessening the impact of something which should not be used as a main determiner of market value (and apparently in your area, it shouldn't be used at all), you are feeding into the myth of the Power of the Zestimate and therefore, if anything, increasing its power.

That being said, Pasa, sometimes you just don't realize when you've crossed a line.  That's a shame because your knowledge can be used to benefit people (and it often has).  It shouldn't be used as an excuse for arrogance and total unwillingness to understand why so many feel the way they do.
  • January 13 2012
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Profile picture for sunnyview
I would be frustrated about the listings too, but the listings on Zillow do not get send to anywhere other than Postlets and Yahoo. The other listings you see on Google are probably coming from other feeds.

Agents manage a lot of feeds so sometimes a few fall through the cracks. I would call this agent in the listing here and ask him to remove all feeds on the internet not just the one to Zillow. I would also ask him to remove all video tours of the inside of your home too. You might also want to contact this agent here and ask her to remove your house or show it as sold in her blog.

The internet is good for advertising, but when the house is sold the new owner needs their privacy.
  • January 13 2012
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Profile picture for Blue in d Nile
Zillow only gets the listings from the syndicating sources, just like many of the other sites.  Look at the bottom of the home details page to see where the listing is coming from.  Also flag all the redundant home details pages for Zillow to delete.  (They will only leave the one with the county records; (the lowest ZPID #).

Unfortunately, that one is marked "for sale" ($725k), so also flag the listing for having the listing removed, but contact the website that it is syndicated from as well since they are also syndicating to others:
(RealEstatebook.com Shannon Register).
  • January 13 2012
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Profile picture for wetdawgs
@Ellen:

Here is a link to suggest why the house still shows for sale on Zillow.  The listing feed comes from elsewhere (not Zillow) and  feeds the information to Zillow and other sites.
Listing one.

Zillow does not magically create listings.  It is up to the agents to remove them from their feeds.

  • January 13 2012
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My house isn't even for sale right now and yet it's posted everywhere…..another violation. But when it was I tried to correct the location and it was as if they couldn't find my house and never permanently fixed it. The appraisal district has the acreage broken up on 2 plats due to ag exemption but the total is 6 acres. @Pasadena….if you will go back to your responses, you were the one attacking me and I was explaining my position which is one of many that will eventually end in a class act lawsuit. You are very abrasive in your responses and there is really no need to be that way if we are just bringing issues to the table. I'm glad you had a great time in Montgomery…..and I appreciate you pointing out the "mis location" of my house that used to be for sale. Thanks to everyone who had input on this "to me" serious issue. 
  • January 13 2012
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Profile picture for Blue in d Nile
By the way, CoreLogic (Realquest) does sell their AVM services to banks, lenders, and Appraisers...  Zillow does not, and will not.  And if owners and agents don't want to correct the data and the location, that certainly is not the publisher's fault.

And if one bothered to read what is posted on each home details page...
"A licensed real estate professional should be contacted to provide additional information and analysis for a more accurate estimate of a property's value."

It certainly is not the publisher's fault if people are lazy and don't bother to read, and agent's aren't able to explain their CMA's, and don't want to use the comment space provided for comments on Zillow's machine generated opinions).
  • January 13 2012
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Profile picture for Blue in d Nile
Just a quick check of some other free AVM's:
homes.com                        $705.7k
homesand.net                         x
eppraisal                                x
realquest.com express        $412k
cyberhomes                            ? (site crash)
trulia                                  $654k
chase                                    x
homegain                               x

4 for Zillow:
2139674569    $531.6k  ($303k to   $941k)
87784816        $493.1k  ($390k to   $641k)
2140380190    $479.9k   ($365k to  $845k)
2141054006    $484k      ($286k to  $682k)

Since Surbiton has posted dozens of times on this site that Core Logic (Realquest) has the "right" value and should never be questioned, the "real" value is $412k.

(Sorry to hear about the divorce; though I do question why anyone would post that in their listing...)

  • January 13 2012
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Profile picture for SanDiegoRealty1
It is a computer system that calculates the value and cannot determine the major factors that effect home value: condition, quality of craftsmanship, etc. Zillows value relies on sales data based on sq ft mainly, then hopes real estate agents and constant bloggers of zillow will make recommendations in order to adjust value. Meanwhile they continue to draw in too many buyers to zillow because of the perception of automatic real estate knowledge.

You're right, in no way does it provide accurate valuations and it has also ruined a few deals for some of my buyers...not to mention, it creates a false value which automatically devalues or inflates most properties to first time and uneducated buyers that believe whatever zillow tells them.

People have tried to fight the zestimate for over a year but it doesn't look like its going anywhere. Agents are spending too much money on ads with zillow = giving them more power. Bottom line is Zillow is not a real estate website...its an advertising website. That is why it can do what it does with displaying property data. Zillow has so much power because it try's to give consumers all the information they need about real estate...whether its accurate or not. The only way it has become such a powerful website is because agents like us blog on it and people respond = better for zillow seo. Then because of these blogs, more visitors see zillow based on keywords we blog about. They then view properties, select to contact an agent, etc., allowing zillow to now charge for being on the website......zillow will never stop unless you do.

Good News For You: MLS's are starting to crack down hard on websites like Zillow & Trulia and I see the real estate associations at some point stepping in to make a huge change....that is unless Zillow becomes more powerful then the REALTOR association...
  • January 12 2012
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Profile picture for Blue in d Nile
I also see that there are 4 separate home details pages for the specific property, only one of course with the county records.  And that one doesn't have the highest Zestimate either, even though more info usually means a more reasonable Zestimate.  But the Geocode is still wrong, thus still a cause for modeling to the wrong properties.  I see the lot size was corrected on the one with the county records, and it takes a while for that to fully impact the estimate values.

Zillow will be happy to delete the redundant home details pages if requested.
  • January 12 2012
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Profile picture for Blue in d Nile
By the way, I drove by your property in  Montgomery TX some time ago, but I stayed on highway 105, so I really paid no attention to your property at all.

But I see you had it listed for $825k, and that Zillow is presently "estimating" it at $531.6k with a range of $303k to $941k.

However, the property location icon is about 7.5 miles E-SE of where it belongs.  Zillow uses a radius of about 1.5 miles for the "recently solds" for the modeling, but more for rural areas like yours.  Anyway, it may affect your estimate some if you correct the icon location on the home details page.  You are able to edit that yourself by dragging it on the map, but a listing price or make me move may temporarily be required to enable the location editing.

Anyway, I did enjoy my stay at Lake Conroe.  Especially the trees.
  • January 12 2012
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Profile picture for Blue in d Nile
I don't have any idea why you want to keep attacking me, but I'm happy to file an official complaint with your broker, your local board, and the Texas Real Estate Commission if that is what you prefer.
  • January 12 2012
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Profile picture for wetdawgs
@Ellen: Is sharing opinion of value through an AVM (of which Zillow's is one of dozens) "advertising" in the legal sense of the term?   I've always thought that false advertisement was about a product, goods or services.  A Zestimate offers none of the above. 

Do you have record of Zillow losing in court cases about the Zestimate that you can share?  Certain the case filed with the FTC against Zillow  being dismissed did set a precedent, but courts don't always agree.
  • January 12 2012
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@Pasadena….it's amazing that I am trying to stop a company who is falsely advertising property values and you are attacking me for doing this……you obviously were caught up in the elevation of property values several years ago…which was wrong or caught up in a loan that was given to you that you were not qualified for several years ago……which was wrong……that has nothing to do with the fact that other property in Texas NOW has rightfully risen in value……there is no need to attack me for standing up against this injustice and there are many who agree……Zillow NEVER won a lawsuit and to say that is VERY WRONG!…..Get your **** facts correct before you state them…….but they will be sued before it's all said and done if they don't do the right thing……Promoting a company who is trying to keep values DOWN is not what we need right now…..maybe good for rich investors but now for the rest of us.....peace
  • January 12 2012
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I have no problem if the published information is accurate. From my own experience I have seen first hand how lousy Zillows zestimates are and their refusal to give homeowners any right of appeal is just plain arrogant and serves no beneficial purpose for anyone, including zillow, who end up with a garbage bunch of information that leads to pointless discussions like this..
  • January 12 2012
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Profile picture for hpvanc
Surbiton,

Maybe it is agents that claim to be buyers representatives but always see the market only from the selling side, act like high pressure salesmen and have a persistent high bias to their CMA's. that need the regulation.

Or we could just let media companies publish information that allows consumers to regulate the market without government interference.
  • January 12 2012
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Ellen

thanks for the 'best answer' nomination. You could not make this stuff up could you? And people wonder why I suggest that AVM sites like Zillow need some form of regulation in the same way that other significant aspects of peoples lives are protected by Federal and State agencies, eg FTC, SEC, FCC, Utilies, Insurance, etc
  • January 12 2012
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Profile picture for Blue in d Nile
It is not my company and I don't work for them; I only come here for good "free" information, which is more than I would ever get from you, even if I paid you a $60k commission.

And please feel free to sue me too while you are so busy threatening to sue people.  My lawyers will love it.
  • January 12 2012
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@Pasdenan…..you sound like you work for the company…….very misinformed and incorrect…..obviously don't have anything at stake……sorry to hear that because when you do you will be more proactive to stopping this kind of false advertising.
  • January 12 2012
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