Chopper, Home Seller in San Francisco, CA

Does anybody really believe Zillow's Zestimates?

Asked by Chopper, San Francisco, CA Sat Jun 18, 2011

The reason I ask is my house has dropped over from $495 to $355 since Jan. 2011. Yet, a home up the street (total fixer) sold in May for $419 and Zillow now has it up to $486. The house is still being rehabbed and framed.
One real estate agent told me that nobody pays attention to their Zestimates. I am baffled...

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29
Phil Rotondo, Agent, Melbourne, FL
Sun Jun 19, 2011
It's estimated that 72% of the computations are correct...whether people want to believe it nor not.
It's also estimated that 90% of all people who know about it will take a peak anyway.
And it is estimated that almost everyone who believe the # is wrong will complain about it.
Web Reference:  http://www.321property.com
2 votes
allan erps,A…, Agent, Pearl River, NY
Sun Jun 19, 2011
Zillow zestimates are an absolute JOKE! If that were true my home would be worth over $200,000 less!
2 votes
Oggi Kashi, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Mon Jun 20, 2011
Zillow is actually rewriting their past zestimates with their new algorithm. Their argument is that estimates are just estimates and not fact. Therefore it's OK to modify their historical estimates going back for years.

I don't agree. Their historical data is a direct measure of their performance. If they change the past then they are rewriting their own performance. That's just not right.

They should use the new algorithm from this point on and note the date of change. The past is the past and should be left alone.

Just in case you are wondering, my zestimate went up from $1,130,000 to $1,540,000 with the new algorithm. That's an increase of more than 36% overnight. When you look at the historical chart now, the graph never even gets close to the old value.
Web Reference:  http://www.oggikashi.com/
1 vote
Frank Dolski, Agent, Lahaska, PA
Sun Jun 19, 2011
Zillow estimates are way off. The reason is that the site counts on Realtors to put the sold date and price in for each settlement. Whereas, the MLS is automaticallly fed.
A Realtor is always the best resource to get home price data.
Web Reference:  http://www.FrankDolski.com
1 vote
Bill Eckler, Agent, Venice, FL
Sun Jun 19, 2011
How can you assume the role of an appraiser without having seen the property or even knowing the area and it community subdivisions.

Zillow simply claims to have powers beyond their true ability.
1 vote
Absolutely. Zestimate a are not one bit accurate and in my opinion place a very negative thought in the minds of a potential buyer. Many foreclosures and such determine this estimate but they should not. My home value has plum edged however it looks like a Mosel home and has totally been remodeled and upgraded. According to zestimate my house is worth pennies more than a foreclosure that is junk....
Flag Sat Jun 1, 2013
James Gordon…, Agent, Hamilton, OH
Sun Jun 19, 2011
Chopper zestimates are known to be way off. You can not give an accurate price with computer modeling. In my area Zillow says that they are off by more than 20% in 20% of the properties.

Would you buy a car from an internet company that said that this is the price but in 1 out of 5 cars we are priced wrong by over 20%?
1 vote
My NC Homes…, Agent, Chapel Hill, NC
Sun Jun 19, 2011
Uninformed buyers sometimes like to beleive Zillow particuarly when it supplies them a number they like.

Zillow itself reports on their accuracy by area and in many areas of the country they claim thier withing 20%, 80% of the time. This is a pretty lousy track record and this is what their saying about their onw Zestimates.

Buyers who want to believe Zillow rather than an experiecned local agent aren't really buyers, thier time wasters. uyers who are doing thier diligence will certainly ask about a Zestimate but if they have an agent who takes the time to exlain and show them the data they will quickly move on past it.

I tell people a Zestimate is like reading your daily horoscope in the Newspaper. Interesting but certainly nothing you'd really want to take to heart.
1 vote
Shane Milne, Mortgage Broker Or Lender, South Jordan, UT
Sat Jun 18, 2011
In cookie cutter neighborhoods that have sales identical to yours - it's a good tool. For a city like San Francisco with very eclectic neighborhoods it'll likely be way off.
1 vote
Oggi Kashi, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Sat Jun 18, 2011
Chopper

It's mostly sellers who look at Zillow. They understandably want to monitor the value of their property but in my experience the error margin is way too high to take the information seriously. In addition, the past few days have shown that the new Zestimates algorithm has fired up more talk and debate over its usefulness and possible harm.

Oggi Kashi
Paragon Real Estate Group
CA DRE 01844627
Web Reference:  http://www.oggikashi.com/
1 vote
Dan Tabit, Agent, Issaquah, WA
Sat Jun 18, 2011
Chopper,
No one who knows real estate pays too much attention. I check the Zestimate and the Eppraisal mostly because I know the public does. When my listings are priced below their numbers, I want the public to believe them. When my listings are higher, I need to be prepared to explain why.
Both of these offer a place to start, but they are not useful for decision making. Zillow goes so far as to explain that they are within X% only so much of the time.
How they are useful is in broad overlooks of the market; the more general the information, the more reliable because they use recorded sales to generate the information. When you get down to a specific house that no one from either company has ever seen, they represent a good guess, but nothing more.
1 vote
Gerard Carney, Agent, Spring Hill, FL
Sat Jun 18, 2011
Zillow is not a proper venue to judge or estimate comps for your property, you need the human factor as with a Realtor, which knows the area and knows what houses compare to the home in question, Zillow's estimate is a simple square foot to dollar ration for the whole region and not the local neighborhood!
1 vote
David Tapper, Agent, Burlingame, CA
Tue Jun 28, 2011
Chopper, consumers put value in Zillow, not real estate agents and Brokers. We are the ones who see the inventory, know if a home has been remodeled or needs fixing and has a functional floor plan or not. How does Zillow determine whether the home has been updated or not or if one street is better than another?

Zillow is a tool, and there are some things I like about it, but I don't have them price the home for me.

Cheers.

Tap
0 votes
Richard Schu…, Agent, Los Angeles, CA
Mon Jun 20, 2011
Zestimates are only meant to be a starting point. Zillow's zestimates are done by a computerized system (which Zillow has said they have recently revamped in attempt to make more accurate) which cannot see things such as home condition and certain home improvements. When trying to get a more accurate home value, you should consult a Realtor, who can do a comparative market analysis, taking into consideration true comps, your home's value and condition, and give you a detailed analysis of your home's value. Zillow itself says that its Zestimates are only meant to be a starting point.

Richard Schulman
Keller Williams Realty
0 votes
Christopher…, Agent, Tarrytown, NY
Mon Jun 20, 2011
Hi, Unfortunately Zillow isn't accurate. The Zestimates don't take into account any updates or special features unless they are manually put into the listing.

Christopher Pagli
Licensed Associate Broker
Accredited Buyer Representative
GREEN Designated Agent
William Raveis Legends Realty Group
914.406.9023
Web Reference:  http://raveis.com/chrispagli
0 votes
John Arendsen, Agent, Leucadia, CA
Mon Jun 20, 2011
You're spot on about Zestimates being anything but accurate. They've never got it right about my home of 30 years. They keep refferring to it a a 3&2 3500sf home when it's a 5&3 4500sf home. They gave it a value in '06 of 1.67M and now they say it's only worth 700k. I just had a CMA done by two brokers and they came in at 950k and 1.1M.

I've tried in vain for several years to get them to revise their Zestimate but it falls on deaf ears. If you really want to get a more realistic evaluation of your property do as several other professionals have suggested and consult with a RE pro or an experienced appraiser.
0 votes
Lamont Steph…, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Mon Jun 20, 2011
Chopper,
There are a lot of great opinions already and I agree that Zestimates are primarily just that and they always add the disclaimer. In the past, I think people relied too heaviliy on Zillows estimates and that may have added to part of our current real estate woes....In either case, if you have a property that you are interested in, get in touch with a good broker or agent and they can most likely run a title report on that property and get you more accurate comps , or verify if the Zillow information is correct..

Good luck in your search
0 votes
Suz A, Agent, Longmont, CO
Sun Jun 19, 2011
Hello Chopper!

I found this interesting link regarding "zestimates": http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=121367457892396&to…

Here is some interesting reading, too:
http://www.thetruthaboutrealty.com/zillow-zestimates-could-b…

Best,
SuZ
0 votes
Leopold A Ro…, , San Francisco, CA
Sun Jun 19, 2011
I was one of those who early on expected Zillow to fold ….. BECAUSE of Zestimates. Online consumers expect algorithmic accuracy and there was no way that Zillow, or Realtor.com or any other single source would be able to provide FMV for all homes in the Country. I am aware that Zillow touts its “home valuations algorithm”, which only proves what Mark Twain would have said had he lived this long: “There are algorithms ….. and there are algorithms”.

IMO Zillow survives despite that flaw because it has cornered the FSBO Market, emasculating almost all FSBO sites in the process. So, like Trulia, it has become a very popular site for consumers tracking real estate. In fact, wearing my Broker hat at Sunday Opens I ask prospects where they search online. Almost all tout Trulia, Zillow, and a few Realtor sites. But rarely does anyone tout Realtor.com.

Leo

LEOPOLD A RODRIGUEZ
Attorney at Law
400 Montgomery 505
San Francisco CA 94104
Office: 415.781.3000
http://fsbo-transactioncoordinator.com/
0 votes
Don Hersh, Agent, Prescott, AZ
Sun Jun 19, 2011
A Zestimate is just that. No one has actually gone out to the property to see the home. Their price is just based on averages. Have a professional give you at least a professional price opinion on your property.
0 votes
Lance King, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Sun Jun 19, 2011
Anyone who does would be misinformed. Sometimes sellers choose to believe it because it supports a price that they want to sell for, but they are usually off the mark and sometimes drastically so. The best way to determine value is to have an experienced, ethical agent or broker give you a proposal for offer pricing that includes their marketing campaign. Get 2 or 3 opinions, and make sure they're not telling you what you want to hear.

Ask for examples of their prior listings so you can see the quality of their photos and marketing remarks because this can often set the good ones apart from the bad. Excellent photos with wide angles to see the real feel of the house and taken at optimum times for sunlight can make a HUGE difference. Also ask to see flyer examples - this also can separate the wheat from the chaff. If you would like an honest opinion about your value our contact info is below.

Best Regards,

Lance King/Owner-Managing Broker
lance@fixedrateproperties.com
415.722.5549
DRE# 01384425


Best Regards,

Lance King/Owner-Managing Broker
lance@fixedrateproperties.com
415.722.5549
DRE# 01384425
0 votes
Alan May, Agent, Evanston, IL
Sun Jun 19, 2011
Not surprisingly... sellers tend to believe them when they are high, and disbelieve them when they are low. Buyers, of course, are the other way around.

Zillow builds these "Zestimates" based on tax records and recent sales in the area, but they pay no attention to desirability, curb-appeal, location on the block, view, condition and often have the room counts or square footage totally incorrect. In fact, as you can imagine, they have never been inside any of these homes, so their Zestimates are, at best, 'suspect', and at worst, way, way off the mark.
0 votes
Sally Rosenm…, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Sun Jun 19, 2011
No. They have missed on everything I have ever looked at on their site. A realtor can give you a free comparable market analysis on properties sold in your area. We are your best resoure!

Cheers,
Sally
Web Reference:  http://www.sallyrosenman.com
0 votes
Rob Regan &…, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Sun Jun 19, 2011
Apparently Zillow recently changed their algorithm and values dropped - at least i heard this as far as San Francisco prices are concerned. Apparently too their hitorical data changed too - so your home might have been 10% higher on this date in 2010 not too long ago, but today looking at the historical data that year ago date has a lower value.

What I love about Zillow is how they say they are "within 5%" 37.7% of the time in San Francisco - and that is the zestimate at it's best. And by the way, that could be plus or minus 5% - so on a $1 million property that is a $100,000 range. Meanwhile, if I'm off by 5% when I do a value report I consider that an absolute failure.
Web Reference:  http://www.SFisHOME.com
0 votes
Clark Riel, Agent, Reno, NV
Sun Jun 19, 2011
I must say that I agree with everything that has been brought up by all the agents that have so far responded. My reason for being a sceptic came from a search I was doing on property in Santa Monic CA. Two identical homes built by a architect that made the homes mirror images of one another. Same house, floor plan and lot size. You can't get much more alike than that. The first time I checked these homes out there was a difference of 500K, that was probably at least 4 years ago, today they still have a published value difference of 300K. I will not post the address, but if you contact me I will gladly give you the address to verify my numbers. 775-232-0768.

I am not saying that all homes are priced wrong, but you certainly should be careful with these published prices.
0 votes
Angelo Cosen…, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Sun Jun 19, 2011
A current Home Analysis (or Comparative Market Analysis) are typically free from many SF Realtors. Zillow numbers come up in many of listing presentations with sellers since they are typically very inaccurate.

I am happy to provide you with a free CMA if you are interested in finding out the current value of your home.

Best Regards,

Angelo

A N G E L O C O S E N T I N O
· TOP PRODUCER ·
TRI Coldwell Banker Previews International
1699 Van Ness Avenue · San Francisco, CA 94109
angelo.cosentino@cbnorcal.com
(415) 298.9171

Visit My Website: http://www.angelocosentino.com


The highest compliment anyone can give is the
referral of their friends, family, and business
relations.

DRE# 01224460
0 votes
Bay_area_ll, Home Buyer, Oakland, CA
Sun Jun 19, 2011
i was able to hack zillow estimate for my house and my zestimate skyrocketed

pm me if you need to know how to do this.
0 votes
Ellie Kravets, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Sat Jun 18, 2011
Hi dear,

I agree with Chris. The best way is to talk to a Realtor and get FREE market evaluation of your home.
Feel free to contact me.

Ellie Kravets
415.948.1601
Ellie.SFHomes@yahoo.com
Web Reference:  http://ClimbSF.com
0 votes
Eric J Soder…, , Pleasanton, CA
Sat Jun 18, 2011
I have found them to be inconsistent. Sometimes dead on and other times way off. It certainly does not replace a CMA done by a Realtor. Check out the web reference below.

Best Regards,

Eric Soderlund
0 votes
Ryan Smith, Agent, Murrieta, CA
Sat Jun 18, 2011
I think the Zestimates are to just give you an idea. Zillow pulls information for title and tax records and doesn't account for the many differences from home to home in the same area. The best way to get correct value is from a realtor CMA or an appraisal.
0 votes
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