Profile picture for Eric Braun

Zillow is notoriously inaccurate in our city. I have emailed them about my concerns

Despite having little or no information about other homes on my neighborhood, Zillow has placed wholly inaccurate values on homes that have little information in the description. However, when you add facts, pictures and upgrades, they do not accurately update the estimate. I do not believe there is any true validity to their methodology despite efforts to add accurTe information about my home and recent upgrades. My value drops as I add details. I would have been better off leaving the inaccurate information instead. As a retired land use lawyer, it is cleR thT Zillow is not an accurTe tool for determining real estate values. What do others in the indusrtry think?
  • January 20 2011 - Northwest Raleigh
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Answers (8)

Profile picture for hpvanc
Are there other AVM tools available to the general public that are more accurate in your area?  If so why not recommend them for the general public to get a baseline or to verify and validate the "professional" opinions people are getting.

These online tools, even when not completely accurate are a great resource for people trying to get a general idea, or to try to validate and verify information.  If there is a problem with the accuracy of the public information available and they are all inaccurate as a result why not point your effort there.
  • January 20 2011
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Profile picture for BryanDunaway
Zillow knows that the Zestimate is inaccurate. If you click on the Zestimate Values and Accuracy link at the bottom of the page (it is in faded gray print) Zillow has posted their margin of error for each area. How this works is if the Number is 15% that means they could be off plus or minus 15% for a total of 30% margin of error. Zillow is a great tool for locating homes or listing homes for sale but accurate values of homes in an ever changing market will always be more accurate by using a professional appraiser.
  • January 20 2011
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Eric Zillow by their own admission is off the price by more than 20% on 18% of the homes in your county. They claim that this is one of the better areas that they provide zestimates in and give themselves a 4 star rating for accuracy in your area.


http://www.zillow.com/howto/DataCoverageZestimateAccuracyNC.htm
  • January 21 2011
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Profile picture for Sharon Lewis
Great responses. I love Zillow for locating homes, advice columns etc, but if you want to know what your home is worth talk to a Realtor and ask them to do a comparable market analysis or hire a professional appraiser.
  • January 21 2011
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Profile picture for Eric Braun
I appreciate the responses, and I agree generally about locating houses andthat it can be a useful tool in certain respects. However, I do not believe the range they state is accurate and their valuation trends are inconsistent at best. They need some system for dealing with owner improvements and updates relative to homes in the same neighborhood that have no data in Zillow's data base, including # of bedrooms or square footage. I understand home valuations and if Zillow does not have that basic information, then they should not listna value, or add additional qualifiers.
  • January 21 2011
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I've never looked at Zillow as a place to find a home, though having done so now, it is indeed a decent tool.  Unfortunately, my experience is that sellers occupy Zillow (with the AVM) and buyers tend to occupy Realtor.com or Trulia.  I first heard of Zillow 4 years about the time I moved myself.  Curious, I started tracking my home.  The week I closed, I felt so good!  My house was worth 20% more than I paid!  Sadly, a month after as the market continued to rise, I had now gone down in value since purchase.

Time and again, this has been my experience.  I've never been sure what the accuracy was - and it's awesome to see it in print - but always knew that a qualified Realtor like me would be able to provide a more accurate value for my clients. It's bad for active listings TODAY because the Zestimates are usually below what I would list the home for, and there are just enough Buyers that take the Zestimate as fact.  Fortunately, the vast majority of Buyers still use a Realtor, and Realtors don't rely on Zestimates.

So, my advice now is only slightly modified - Zillow is great entertainment but of little value as a Seller.  As a Buyer, or looking for advice, it has its place.
  • January 21 2011
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Profile picture for sunnyview
Eric, I noticed that you mentioned that other houses in your neighborhood had no data and that when you updated your page you feel that the Zestimate dropped. Is that right?

I am not Zillow, but I have heard of this issue before. Updating property that already has some information like bed/bath seems listed to have no negative effect on the Zestimate at all. Most people have said that it has improved their Zestimate accuracy. However, if a neighborhood typically has NO information and then you go ahead and list your bed/bath, square footage etc., it seems to create an issue. I do not know if this is because Zillow's system just puts all the houses with no information at or above the median and at the middle upper of the values or what.

My suggestion would be to remove your information if possible and wait 6-8 weeks to see if your value goes back to tracking with the rest of the neighborhood. That has worked for other owners in the past who have reported this issue. Zillow is not an appraisal and there are bugs out there, but my concern would be making sure that you as the owner have the most accurate Zestimate possible. In this case, it may mean seeing if removing your information gives you a better Zestimate. If I was programmer maybe I could explain it better, but all I can do is tell you what has worked for other owners who have reported this.

This issue seems to come up fairly infrequently, so I don't think that many owners have to deal with it, but using the fix that has worked for others might be worth a try.
  • January 21 2011
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Profile picture for Sharon Lewis
Again, always use a Realtor or professional home appraiser for a more accurate picture of the value of your home or house you want to purchase.
  • January 22 2011
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