Zillow is a great tool for consumers to gauge home prices in their area or for an area that they are considering moving to. Zillow tracks all the pertinent real estate information regarding listings and sales in the area. They have complex mathematical models that provide an estimated home value for every single house, known as the Zestimate.
However, while Zillow is able to access tax record information (such as age, lot size, square footage, number of bedrooms, bathrooms, size of basement, garage, etc), it has no mathematical way of assessing the condition of a home. So a 20 year old 4BR/2.1 bath 3,000 sq ft colonial on one acre of land in Montgomeryville will have the same Zestimate even if one home has all new kitchen, baths, HVAC, roof, and siding while the other simply has the original of everything.
Zillow assumes average condition on homes—some updates, routine maintenance, general upkeep, good condition.
Additionally, Zillow does not necessarily know if one home has a finished basement or if power lines or a roadway (such as the 202 Bypass) affect a couple homes (but not all) within a particular neighborhood.
So the short answer is sometimes Zillow’s Zestimates are very accurate and other times, they can be far off the mark. Zillow is constantly trying to improve its algorithms to improve the accuracy of its Zestimates.
A buyer or a seller should never put too much weight on the Zestimate, especially if the home is not a typical “cookie cutter” home in a large development. A consumer should consider the recent comparable sales and like an appraiser, do additions/subtractions of value for features that differ from the subject property.
Zillow’s Zestimates are great for people relocating from a different area to give them a gauge of what home values are in an area. And Zillow has a wealth of useful information (i.e. number of homes for sale, days on market, whether prices are trending up or down, recent sales, etc). It is also has a great forum for consumers to ask questions.
Check out our reviews on Zillow. http://www.zillow.com/profile/Scott-Loper/Reviews/
The Scott Loper Team includes Scott & Lisa Loper, Keller Williams Real Estate, 601 Bethlehem Pike, Bldg. B, Ste. 100, Montgomeryville, PA 18936, (215) 631-1900, www.ScottLoperTeam.com.