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The Hard Truth About Zillow’s Zestimates

Tuesday, December 10, 2019   /   by John Salkowski

The Hard Truth About Zillow’s Zestimates

Can you trust Zillow’s Zestimates? Learn what you need to know right here.
Looking to buy a home? Search all homes here.
Looking to sell your home? Get a free home value report here. 

Zillow’s Zestimates are based on public and user-submitted data. Public data is usually fairly accurate, as it includes information about the square footage of your home. The problem is that a Zestimate relies solely on user-submitted data; if you’re looking to sell your house and you know that people are going onto Zillow to see what it's worth, why wouldn’t it benefit you to get on the site and add some of the improvements you’ve done to the property? Some agents actually help clients increase their Zestimates to make it seem like their home is worth more. In short, Zestimates can be tweaked and manipulated. 

On their site, Zillow goes on to say that they encourage homeowners to supplement their Zestimates by speaking to a real estate professional to get a comparative market analysis or appraisal. After all, Zillow has never been to your home, so their Zestimates couldn’t know how your home stacks up against other properties.

If you live in a major city or metropolitan area where homes are very similar, then the Zestimate might be a little bit more accurate. However, if you live in a rural area or a neighborhood with a lot of unique homes, then the Zestimates can be way off base. Zillow even admits that more than three-quarters of all the homes in the six-county region—Montgomery, Delaware, Chester, Bucks, Berks, and Philadelphia—are off by as much as 10%! That means if your home is actually worth $300,000 and the Zestimate is off by 10%, your Zestimate could be off the market by $30,000.


Zestimates can be tweaked and manipulated.


Ultimately, Zillow is sort of like WebMD. If you’re curious about a health condition, you can look up some information. If you’re seriously concerned about a health condition, you’ll want to go see a doctor. You wouldn’t trust your health to information from WebMD alone, so why would you trust a home valuation to Zillow?

To determine what your home is worth in the current market, you need to contact a real estate profession. I invite you to look up your Zestimate and send it to me; I’ll compare it to homes that are similar to yours and I’ll let you know what I believe your home is worth.

If you have any questions about today’s topic or real estate in general, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. We’re always here for you.

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