Home Buying in 08873>Question Details

Aruna Mettler, Real Estate Pro in Hillsboro, NJ

I would like to hear from other professional regarding "Zillow Zestimates". I personally find them misleading the public, a dis-service to the seller.

Asked by Aruna Mettler, Hillsboro, NJ Sun Jul 14, 2013

I was advertising on Zillow for over 15 months. My clients and potential buyers often debated about the "Zestimates" Zillow clained on each property. The were completly false and misleading to the buyers. Ifa roperty was listed for $450,000, and the Zestimate stated "$318,000, the buyers felt that they should be able to purchase it for that price. Once, I showed them the comps they understood but at times had doubts. I would like Zillow to STOP this practice. Do others feel the same way I do about this topic?

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This is why they are called "zestimates". They are rough estimates of a homes value. In order to get a e correct evaluation you need a Market Analysis done from a local Realtor in your town or a professional appraisal from a local Appraiser. i went on a listing appointment and the Zillow estimate was much higher than market value. I tried to show the Seller the correct market value based on recent sales in their development, but they only believed the Zestimate price. Hence there home is still on the market after many months!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 28, 2015
The truth of the matter is that an online valuation tool will never be able to accurately estimate real estate market value. For anyone reading that has a difficult time explaining why Zillow estimates are junk I have put together a comprehensive reference. Share this with any of your clients that are giving you a hard time about the Zillow estimate of value.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Nov 18, 2014
Why hasn't anyone considered starting an "Agent Owned" National CMLS Internet advertising company by which we all become coop owners and share in the ad revenues and use the service at moderately low cost. We could put a stop to all the internet companies using OUR LISTINGS to make BILLIONS and use those revenues as retirement supplements to all the coop members of the National CMLS internet company. I am sick and tired of Zillow, Trulia, Realtor. Com, and other sites too using our listings to milk the real estate agents for money that belongs to us. These are our listings not theirs. If anyone should make money on our listings it should be us. We can put a stop to this and no longer allow these sites to use our listings. In the very least, they should be paying us for our listing. Wake up Real Estate Agents.............
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 30, 2014
How many buyers do you think these sites have brought you? I bet you don't complain when they get you a sale. Leave it to a realtor to complain about free market enterprise. For the amount of times a bad estimate drives your price down, how many more times have you had multiple buyers steered to you to help you sell for more? And how many times has it gotten one of your buyers into their dream home? Leave it to a realtor to whine about free market enterprise. I wouldn't worry too much, because I'm sure you'll be doing something else for work very soon if you aren't already.
Flag Sat Nov 22, 2014
I cannot stand it, for me in my market area it tends to hurt more than help, especially when I go on a listing call. I bring the comps, the price will be significantly lower than what zillow estimated, and the seller suddenly does not trust me and my comps over zillows estimates. Its frustrating.

I no longer use the site due to these frustrations it causes me, and because the site runs a lot slower for me.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 19, 2013
I have had some very similar experience where a buyer looks at the zestimate and then expects to pay that price. Again, I have to go back to my comps and show what examples I have in my market place.
I do not believe it is possible to give an accurate price for all the homes in the US from a single service and the service works against us Realtors.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 19, 2013
Absolutely, I've often written Zillow where I'm also active and suggested they discontinue their "Zestimates" and when Trulia started earlier this year to post "estimates' at the bottom of listings I called them and told them it was beneath them to pretend to be able to value properties they have never seen.

What the public doesn't comprehend is that Zillow, Trulia and other similar sites are not run by people with real estate experience, and that no one at these sites is a Realtor or needs to be, These are advertising sites and their clients aren't the public thier Realtors, Lenders and other real estate professionals and what their "selling" is exposure. I've attached a link below to an article I wrote and posted over a year ago about the "value" of online estimates that you might find interesting. You're welcome to share it if you like as long as your recognize me as the author.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 19, 2013
I dont think it was intended as deception but one algorithm trying to be a one size fits all. ... purely cost saving so unless they are forced to change that which is totally misleading and damaging to homeowners they won't do it! Begin by filing complaints with your state RE Commissions and ask your clients to do the same. ...
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 19, 2013
I also agree that Zillow's values are misleading. I have had this issue come up several times with clients. I believe agents should be proactive and explain to their seller/buyer clients that a computer generated data will not be as accurate as a real estate pro's valuation. Real estate pros know the local values, trends, sometimes the unique circumstances surrounding sales, etc.. I am not sure how Zillow comes up with their values but they should definitely work on that..
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 17, 2013
Lee Ann makes a great point.
It actually reveals the DECEPTION OF ZILLOW.
As Lee Ann reported: (in small print on a site link that the Zestimates can be off 10% or more)
Stated TRANSPARENTLY the small print should read, the Zestimate CAN NOT be more accurate than 10% and can be off an infinate amount.) They know folks will fixate on the 10% accuracy.
When real estate professsonal write checks to support companies that practice systemic deception of the public, they hopefully understand that mud splashes in all directions. These same agents, I would expect, have 'Too Big To Care' banks on their advertising and brokers front door.
Hmmm, do you think these same agents would also quote chapter and verse from the ethics manual?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 15, 2013
I too find the Zestimates misleading. Zillow actually states(in small print on a site link that the Zestimates can be off 10% or more, depending on the area of the country.
The buyers using the site, like to use it to justify a low offer.
We have to show the actual recently sold comps and convice them of the market value.

As for sellers that you reprsent: you can go in and put the value of any of the updates the owners have done and it increases the Zestimate for that property.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 15, 2013
Your point is well taken and one shared by many both agents and the general public.

Why would anyone expect supreme accuracy from a computer generated program when you could have three different professional appraisers appraise the same home and all come up with different numbers that ate tens of thousands of dollars apart?

Determining property value is not kid's play but unfortunately is often treated as such.


0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 15, 2013
Zillow Zestimate is willful deception of the public that DOES harm home owners.
The Dept of Justice should compel Zillow to compensate those who suffer real loss and further subject Zillow to a class action law suit.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 15, 2013
As soon as that 'Zillow says' issue comes up I always explain to my buyers that an automated valuation system can not be provide an accurate value, and that only a neighborhood expert can do that.

As long as they are getting values so wrong, I'll continue to have value because I can provide accurate information.

Perhaps you should work the dangers of automated values into your buyer or seller presentation.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 15, 2013
We have the same experience with the Zestimate we lost two very important deals about three years. We had listed the house according to the comps and all the perspective buyers did not make a correct offer because the Zestimates were too low....I definitely feel that most of the houses are undervalued which makes everyone life impossible. This misleading information should be stopped no one wins....buyers or a seller...buyers looses the house because of misleading information by Zillow and seller looses many good clients.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jul 14, 2013
I feel your pain. The general public looks to these zestimates as irrefutable evidence of value.
What they are is the failed result of a system designed to do away with appraisers. It completely failed in that capacity and was picked up by innovative entrepreneurs with such names as Zillow, Housevalues, etc.
We are left to educate the public as to why these generalized, over simplified, entertaining computer generated guesstimates are inaccurate and not to be relied on.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jul 14, 2013
Another data point available to the public - be aware and ready to discuss. I think you handled it just right. It is much like township assessed values - not necessarily a linear relationship. Great opportunity to introduce the comps and then appeal to the buyer's sense of reason. If they resist the facts, they'll lose a property or two and then likely see the light.

Jeanne Feenick
Unwavering Commitment to Service, Unsurpassed Results
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jul 14, 2013
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