Profile picture for Vacation Retreat

Zillow's appraisal and my appraiser differ: Z = $600K+, Appraiser = #385K. How can I find the value?

Zillow: 43116 W. Sugar Pine Dr., Oakhurst, CA 93644 = $228,000.
There are two other identical houses (all 3) recently remodeled (2007) on this lot that Zillow doesn't recognize, but shows on the map: 43124, 43132.
My appraiser, Meek Appraisals (Madera) gave all 3, + 20x60' barn a $385,00 value.
I feel the real value is about $550,000.
They are on a beautiful 2.43 acre lot on the edge of a forest, vacation property.
How can I find out the value? I think Meek is way off (playing safe).
  • February 11 2009 - Oakhurst
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Answers (5)

Profile picture for DebraKroon
Zillow values are based on available public records and computer calculations of general data.  This means that Zillow values are based on averages, which works well in areas of similar properties (i.e., a tract of homes with similar models, similar age, similar land size). 

Zillow values in rural areas are improving over time, as more data becomes available--but Zillow does not personally visit and inspect each home (interior and exterior), does not know the individual areas and neighborhood influences, nor full property characteristics.  Zillow notes their values are only estimates.

Lenders use appraisers and, in eastern Madera County and neighboring Mariposa County, on-premise visits are essential for appraisers to provide accurate information.  Appraisers and local real estate brokers/agents are better informed about why the values on one street a half-mile away from another street would differ, how much value upgrading provides to a property, etc., based on the current market conditions. 

Being local and aware of the street, the property itself, and the three cabins (have driven by several times and am aware of the upgrades), in February of 2009 the value would have been much closer to the appraisal than to the Zillow value at that time ($600K+); interestingly, the current value being shown on Zillow is a more accurate reflection of the property's value than it was in 2009, although I would consider today's value (1/26/14) as more of a listing price than a selling price.

If you need to find out the value of a property, you can request a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) from local real estate professionals - or hire an appraiser, depending upon whether you are seeking a general idea or are considering placing the home on the market (CMA) or if you need a specific value for the property on a specific date (loan or legal use).
  • January 26 2014
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Profile picture for sunnyview
You have to go with your appraisal over the Zestimate. Your appraiser likely has newer comps and was able to see the house in person. That is worth a lot. I think appraisers are playing it safe, but the market is tough for finding good non REO comps. Look over the comps s/he used and make sure they are valid. If so, you may want to wait for spring for a better idea of value when you have more comps to use on an appraisal. The news may not be good, but you have to have decent comps to do a decent appraisal.
  • February 11 2009
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Profile picture for wetdawgs
The appraiser value is most likely closer to reality than Zillow's Zestimate.   Zestimates are calculated values and are never supposed to substitute for an appraisal.

If you are unhappy with the appraisal, you can hire a different appraiser.   I've seen variations of about 10% when three have looked at the same property.


  • February 11 2009
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VR,
CA property is like Cactus 1549 after flying into the birds....  except the Hudson is nowhere near.  The real value will be found if and when you decide to sell it and a willing buyer offers you "X".  Everything (ZILL), the appraiser, etc. is just a "guess" of sorts.  I wish I had better news but RE values are going to be damaged and recovery will take years (and rising family incomes)  We are still in layoff mode.  I wish you well.  Nice advice OSBaller. :)
  • February 11 2009
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Profile picture for oldskoolballr

You have answered your own question.  The value that the appraiser assigns is the only value that matters.  You are in a rapidly declining market and it will presumably get worse.

  • February 11 2009
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