• Michele Wright-REALTOR®

To Zillow or not to Zillow....

Step 1: DON'T Listen to ZILLOW (or Trulia.... or whatever other home advertising site)

Ok, I get it.... before jumping into the real estate game, I, too, looked at these sites. Why not? They are easily accessible, and I didn't want to hassle with an agent yet.... The problem? IT'S NOT RELIABLE! Zillow itself encourages their audience to conduct other research such as "getting a comparative market analysis from a real estate agent" or even "getting an appraisal from a professional appraiser". Why? because their methods for determining your home's value, your mortgage calculations or their tax assessments, are a complete shot in the dark. Did they even come to your house and look at the condition? No.   Honestly, your best bet is to get a local Realtor® to see your home in all its flaws and glory to give you your unique fair market value.

Listen, I don't think those sites are evil incarnate, and I know they don't intentionally mislead their audiences... However, buyers and seller often end up with inaccurate information that they take as the gospel truth. (it reminds me of when I was teaching and students believed everything they read on the internet....) 

For example, Zillow can take up to three days to update the status (Active, Pending, Sold etc) of a home from the MLS (a record book of sorts that licensed Realtors® have access to).

I know it's a hard pill to swallow, and you assume that these sites are a trusted resource and that the information is factual and based on recent sales, and therefore the facts and figures must represent true market value.  ---but unfortunately, it just isn't so. ​ What about the Sell Side?  Just think about the 40,000+ zip codes in this great country. Each zip code has variables that affect the property values... (schools, hospitals, amenities, taxes, recreation, etc...) Let's pretend you live in a 3 bed/2 bath, farmhouse in Weatherford, TX. You log into Zillow and type your address into the search bar to see what your home value might rank. A map populates and shows a dot for your house and all the homes in the area (within a set mileage), that have sold, foreclosed, are for sale or rent. Hovering on these dots provide you with various stats on those sales, and when you click on yours, Zillow so "helpfully" generates a "Zestimate" from their algorithms. Sounds great? No? The problem is this calculation doesn't take into account if these homes are vinyl or brick, pier and beam or slab, are 3/1 or 4/3 or etc, next to the gas station or near the best school in town, has had the Joanna Gaines treatment or have remained untouched for decades... you get the idea.  In the real estate world, these are HUGE differences that can yield drastically different numbers, and factor in an appraiser that ultimately has the say so on your homes value in the home buying/selling process....

In other words, Zillow simply cannot account for the condition of your home....

Appraisers and Realtors® need to compare like to like. So unless you live in a cookie-cutter neighborhood, don't expect to sell the home for what you neighbors might have sold for. And further more, values change with every season (and with every sale in the neighborhood, these numbers could fluctuate more than the stock market). A CMA (comparative market analysis) is a thorough process that your Realtor® can run for you to give you a fairly accurate value and a suggested listing price, enabling you to have the knowledge of what you choose to list the house for, even though, ultimately the buyer determines what they offer and you negotiate from there.  So I guess the take away is this: No mater where you live or what the market looks like in that area, you should always rely on a trusted Realtor® to help guide you for what your home is truly worth.

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