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How Accurate is Zillow?

Let's face it.  Zillow is fun.  People love Zillow.  Who wouldn't love knowing at any given moment what their house might be worth?  Your home IS the biggest asset you own and it's your best shot at wealth or cushy retirement.  But is Zillow giving you an accurate picture?

You may have heard real estate agents grousing a bit about Zillow.  It's probably one of the most common obstacles to convincing a potential client of his or her home value.  "But Zillow says my home is worth......."

Occasionally, in preparing a comparative market assessment (CMA), we will actually decide a home's value is greater than (or the same as) Zillow's opinion but we feel like that occurrence is on the rare side.  So, how does Zillow get different numbers than us professionals?

Let's take a look at what Zillow does do.  

Zillow uses third party data that is available to real estate agents and appraisers alike.  Such data includes homes sold and homes listed for sale and walkscore (from  Numbers that go into the equation include square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms and proximity to other homes that have sold recently.  In that sense, it seems it should be able to generate the same value as a human.

Now for what Zillow doesn't do.  

It doesn't physically visit the neighborhood to assess how your house looks in comparison to others.  It doesn't know if your home has been upgraded or is custom built or is even on a street that has barking dogs or a rooster farm.  It doesn't know what kind of view you have or if you've put in all the latest appliances.  And it especially doesn't know what is considered high demand for your area in terms of aesthetics or features (vaulted ceiling, large lanai, ceiling fans, etc).

What is Zillow good for then?

We believe that in a suburb where homes are more or less alike, where there is some form of homogeneity (especially tract home neighborhoods), Zillow might be closer to the mark.  

In East Hawaii, however, that sort of suburbia exists in very few spots.  It is more usual to have a large luxury home (or street) right next to a modest single wall home (or row of camp houses).  Zillow is practically worthless here.

How to get an accurate assessment of your home's value

If you are really interested in knowing what your home is worth, please use a trusted agent to perform a CMA for you.  We offer the service free of cost.  You can contact us here.

Cover photo:  MLS#607447 offered at $499,000

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