Zestimates are they Good or Bad?
You need to have a REAL person, who knows the market in an area give you a true value of the home. Before you go checking your home on Zillow, remember their Zestimates are ESTIMATES. They don’t have all the data that Realtors and Appraisers have. In Niagara Falls, they don’t know that in order to build the courthouse that several homes are no longer, or the area by the Casino is more valuable because of the projects in the works. They don’t know what is happening in Buffalo, like the potential for eminent domain by the Peace Bridge.
Real Estate is Local
I first wrote this post in February of 2008. Last night there was a great tweet from @LaurieManny about a Zillow Zestimate on a property in California. The home was devalued by local condos. You mention Zillow you are going to get some very strong reactions from both those in the Real Estate Industry and Consumers. And not just in Western New York, but across the country. Some people love Zillow Zestimates, others hate them. When I moved back to Western New York, after working in the Marco Island/Naples Florida area and having negative experiences with Zillow Zestimates, I thought I would give it another try. But time and again the numbers are off.
Let’s talk about why those in the Real Estate Industry don’t like Zillow Zestimates. For the mere fact that we have to deal with the realities of what is happening in the Real Estate Market and be the bearer of bad news to Western New York Buyers and Sellers. “No, your home is not worth $210,000, it really is worth about $160,000 based on the comps” I am sure that you can imagine the reaction we get. It happens time and again. It is not that Realtors don’t want you to have the information, we just want you to have it in context that make sense.
Real Estate is local. It can be as local as street by street in some neighborhoods. Ranch, Split-level, Colonial homes each have their own values. Square footage, the number of bedrooms, baths and lot sizes will affect the value of your home. There are errors in their data — just look at the data for your home. Do they calculate the bedrooms, baths and square footage correctly? These are huge factors in value, as are swimming pools, new kitchens and other enhancements you may have.
Important Warning to WNY Consumers
The number Zillow spits out, needs to be taken with a grain of salt. If you check against the tax data, you may find discrepancies, therefore giving you a number that does not make sense in the current market. Sometimes they are pulling data from a year ago, where 60 days prior is as far as you should go in many areas to receive an accurate comparison. Building your own estimate is an excellent idea, if you pick apples to compare to apples. When you start comparing cherries to apples it becomes a problem. The big question, do you know what are apples and what are cherries? Consider a Zestimate a starting point and understand that they can be off as much as 20% either direction.
It is important to note that in their disclaimer they state:
We encourage buyers, sellers, and homeowners to supplement Zillow’s information by doing other research such as:
* Getting a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) from a real estate agent
* Getting an appraisal from a professional appraiser
* Visiting the house (whenever possible)
* Creating your own estimate using the My Estimator home valuation tool
Not working with a Real Estate Agent in Western New York? If you are thinking of purchasing a home in the greater WNY area, please give us a call at (716) 650-0051 and we would be happy to assist you. Interested in selling your home? We would be honored to have the opportunity to meet with you and discuss how together, we can successfully !