GMR On The Money: How accurate is Zillow for homebuyers?

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The website and app Zillow is popular with buyers and sellers right now, but not with some real estate agents who say the Zestimates can be misleading.

“It’s frustrating when it comes to negotiations,” says Realtor Brian Sivak with Remax/Allegiance. “You tend to have a consumer, buyer coming in, they’re using the Zillow Zestimate and they think the house is overpriced.”

Sivak says that when it comes to clients who come in holding their Zillow Zestimates, it’s all about managing expectations.

“They’re a good place to start, but you can’t put a lot of faith in Zestimates.”

Sivak says the popular real estate website has good info for those relocating to a new area, but he says the Zestimates, offering up values on 110 million American homes, aren’t accurate.

He pointed to several listings like one for a home in the Harper’s Mill Neighborhood. The Zestimate is $394,000, but Sivak’s client has it listed at $384,000 — a $10,000 difference.

Sivak also showed off two Hampton Park homes where the Zestimates are off from the listings by $12,000 and $13,000.

“You can’t price a house without knowing the micromarkets, without knowing the neighborhoods, the schools, everything that goes into a pricing a home,” Sivak says.

8News reached out to Zillow to help us understand Zestimates.

“Zillow wants to give a good ballpark idea of value any given home” says Skylar Olsen, a senior Zillow economist.

The website looks at county records, home sales and other factors. Its computers then try and determine a home’s value.

Here in Virginia, the median error rate for Zillow is about six percent. That means half were within six percent of the price and half were not. Zillow says the number probably won’t be perfect because they don’t really know what’s behind your front door.

“We’ve never been to your home, we don’t know the special layout of your kitchen,” Olsen says. :That’s hard to quantify. The Zestimate can’t know about it and can’t incorporate it into your home’s value. It’s a great starting place, but not the end point.”

As for Sivak, when it comes to Zillow he says, “It’s decent information, but you can’t take that information to the bank.”

If you’d like to check or update the price of your home, you can update it on Zillow.

Comments are closed.