Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF): If you are considering selling your home this year, go to Zillow.com and make sure your home’s information is accurate. Many homebuyers take the “Zestimate” as gospel truth and will weigh the listing price of your home against this number.
Zillow has become the go-to place for online real estate searches. It’s achieved this position because of a very clean search interface and ease of use. It’s also employed some very keen marketing over the last few years. But does the website provide accurate data? Maybe in some places, but in Colorado Springs…not so much.
The problem in Colorado Springs is that Zillow doesn’t receive data directly from the Pikes Peak Multiple Listing Service (PPMLS). That’s a big problem if you are concerned with accuracy. Its a big problem if you are concerned with timeliness of information.
Zillow often doesn’t even include the most recent improvements made to a home. This will have a huge impact on the “Zestimate.” Take my home, for example. I claimed my home on the site (you can do that) and really looked hard at the information they had on our home. Guess what? They were short 1 room. I correctly added that ONE room to my property on Zillow and it resulted in a $3,000 increase in the “Zestimate.”
I recently completed a little experiment. I tracked 40 homes in 4 different price ranges (chosen by list price) over 4 months to see how close the final sales price was to the initial Zestimate. Of the 40 homes, 26 sold between January and April. Here are the results.
Average Zestimate: $278,924
Average Sale Price: $265,414
Average Zestimate: $299,396
Average Sale Price: $319,750
Average Zestimate: $348,718
Average Sale Price: $367,500
Average Zestimate: $443,955
Average Sale Price: $414,333
I’d like to be clear that this was not a scientific experiment. But still, one thing is clear…Zillow is all over the place here in Colorado Springs. You certainly shouldn’t rely on it to determine the actual value of a home. Plus, several of the homes on Zillow show “pending”…but our REALTOR® Multiple Listing Service (MLS) correctly shows closing dates in January. How’s that for behind the times. In another example, Zillow shows a home as “off the market”…that particular home is currently under contract.
Think about this: Zillow can’t see the inside of your home or the improvements you’ve made. Are they comparing your upgraded home to several homes that appear to be comparable but have no upgrades?
So, if you want to get the most accurate home valuation and the most timely information, your best bet is with a local REALTOR®. That person will be able to more accurately assess your homes value by using tools such as the MLS — which Zillow does NOT have access to. In addition, a local REALTOR® will be able to determine value based on upgrades. Zillow bases it’s Zestimate on room totals and square footage (maybe a few other variables, but you get the picture).
Finally, and to reiterate: If you are considering selling your home this year, go to Zillow.com and make sure your home’s information is accurate. Many homebuyers take the “Zestimate” as gospel and will weigh the listing price of your home against this number.