It is normal to be on a listing appointment with a seller and have them bring up what they saw their home was worth on the Zillow Zestimate.  Getting the estimated home value of your property has been made easily accessible to homeowners.  By just filling out forms like this one, you’ll get the information you are looking for instantly.  Most people use the Internet to get information on real estate.  From lists of homes for sales, advice on buying and selling, mortgage calculators, market reports, estimated home value, and so much more.  You can find just about anything you want to know about real estate.  Whether it’s for real estate buyer or seller information, it is all available to consumers.

Most homeowners, when they plan to sell their property, they look for a home value estimator available online.  Property valuation is important in real estate financing, listing your home for sale, property insurance, taxation, buying, and investment analysis.  Zillow which is an online rental and real estate information service provides great resources.  Zestimate, which is one of the popular tools by Zillow, is an estimated property value by Zillow obtained using a computer-generated valuation model.  The logic used in Zestimate is similar to that of a real estate agent, but they differ with the evaluation method used and the results.

With all the resources available online, it is now very easy to get the basic information on a home value but who should you trust if you want an accurate value of your home?  Who has the most reliable results?  Is it the real estate agents or Zillow?  Let’s talk about their differences.

Let’s Talk about Zestimates…

The Zestimate home valuation is Zillow’s estimated market value, computed using a proprietary formula.  It is NOT an Appraisal!  Zillow uses public records and user submitted data such as the property’s features.  The market values in a specific area depending on the transaction numbers in that specific geographic area.  Since Zillow uses public records and user submitted data, the accuracy of Zestimate is affected by how much data is available.  The site knows how much a home sold for, the last time it was purchased and has similar information for other homes in the surrounding area.  It uses automated valuation models together with several algorithms that include physical attributes, tax assessments, and prior and current transactions to determine the value of a property.  Physical attributes are home characteristics such as lot size, square footage, number of beds and baths, location and other details.  All of this data is then added into several equations, to get the value of a property within an area.  While Zillow does provide helpful tools, the Zestimate is a roughly calculated value and is less accurate than it looks.  Zillow even acknowledges and has a disclaimer about the accuracy of the information, which has been sometimes extremely off in the valuation of properties The Fejeran Group has worked with.  Whether you are a buyer or seller, you can’t afford to be off thousands of dollars in your calculation of listing price or offer on a home.  This is an automated system and just like all other automated systems, it does not think on its own.  Zestimate has its own formula but should not replace a (CMA) Comparative Market Analysis by a Real Estate Professional, and its results cannot be used as a basis for decisions made in regards to any real estate transaction.  Why?

Let’s Talk About Real Estate Agents…

Real Estate Agents are trained and licensed, skilled professionals with substantial knowledge of the local real estate market.  If you are looking for the most accurate home value of your property, seek the help of a real estate professional.

One important factor is that agents conduct physical inspections of the property since the condition of the property can greatly impact the market value and ultimately the selling price.  It can be issued with foundation, roof or other structural items.  It may be the location of the home in the neighborhood, does your home back up to the main street, water tower or train track.  There are many factors that need to be considered that the agent can help you assess.

The agent will consider important values such as the demand and supply forces, prices of similar properties in the neighborhood, a property’s current state, and other factors to provide a home value estimate.  Real estate agents have access to the fresh current sales data and will give you an estimate that is in line with the market.  They get updates as soon as they come into the MLS system.  Whether you are obtaining a mortgage, refinancing, selling your property, leasing, or buying property, you will need to get an accurate home valuation.  When real estate comes to mind, many people will go right to the internet and click and read through things because it is fast and convenient.  Don’t just jump to it because you may be losing money.  Yes, it is fast and convenient but it does not mean it is accurate.  We can always check the internet as another option but we should not always rely on it.  Talk to a real human to get all the updated, reliable and accurate data.

Although Zillow provides helpful real estate tools, its valuation tool often gives consumers unreliable information.  It does not have all that information or data to have the best results.  Zillow does not visit properties and does inspections to see things that might affect the value of a property.  The Zestimate is just a roughly calculated value which is based on the input data.  Therefore, less accurate and not reliable.  If you put in wrong information, the estimate you get will be incorrect.  The results are sometimes way too high or too low, causing problems during transactions.  Zillow may have done its best to ensure consumers get the closest estimate possible, but remember, it is only an automated system, a program full of codes that cannot think on its own.  That system or program does not visit your home and talk to professionals to get updates on the market every minute.  Whatever is input by the consumers into the system, right or wrong, it doesn’t matter, the program will just calculate.

Agents are better informed than the consumers.  They use and exploit their skills and experiences to provide the most accurate, reliable and realistic home value estimate.  The market trends change frequently and vary from one neighborhood to another.  It can be a thousand higher today, then suddenly drops the next.

Before giving an estimated home value, a real estate agent takes note of the location, physical features, market condition, and so much more.  A true real estate agent will pick up on the latest market trends faster than the automated system and thus, their estimates would be more accurate and updated than Zillow’s.

Outdated data or incorrect information causes inaccuracies in the Zestimates results.  Not everyone is techy.  Some people may find it hard to use this tool, and those who are not familiar with evaluations have higher chances of making errors.  These inaccuracies can also result from Zillow’s heavy reliance on the aging factor and a statistical dollar per square foot formula.  It’s true that the site may have important data, but not enough to tell how much the property is REALLY worth.  The Zestimate tool cannot determine the actual condition out and inside the home.  It compares a property with others based on the features presented in the public record instead of the actual features in their current condition.  Unlike with that of an agent who physically does a home inspection, taking the property’s current state of into account.  Real estate agents conduct a thorough analysis of properties and use well-planned strategies and methodologies to estimate and come up with a more appropriate number as the home value.  The Real Estate Agent will judge subjective housing conditions that may affect the value such as upgrades and additions, as well as what things are included and not included in the property for sale.

There are so many things to consider in selling your home and your real estate agent is going to make sure to consider all of these things when talking to you about your home’s value.

 

If a comparable is in an inferior condition, the real estate agent will ensure adjustments are made to reflect this.  You cannot attain a complete level of accuracy without actually visiting a property and using the human touch to filter through sales information.  Being an automated tool, the Zestimate does not know the essential factors that could affect the property value.  A licensed agent will explain, discuss and help you understand how these unique characteristics can influence the actual value of the property.  A competent real estate agent has the expertise to compare entirely different homes within a neighborhood to get an accurate value.  Does Zestimate have this kind of ability?  Absolutely not.

Comparable sales are a valuable tool in determining a property’s worth and Zillow does not use it the way it should be.  Sometimes, what Zestimate may use as a comparable sale may not be the really comparable ones.  For instance, if you use the tool to get your home’s value, it will then use every home in the area whether comparable or not, to give an estimated value.  Realtors understand how one comparable sale relates to the other.  A real estate agent will give a closer look at the current sales and only use 3 to 5 homes in each status: generally sold, under contract, and available.  The agent chooses homes that best compare to your home to come up with a number.

The data used by Zillow in regards to the physical location is much broader than just your town or neighborhood.  Zillow often uses all the data in a county to come up with the Zestimates, and this sometimes results in numbers way too high or too low.  The value of properties in a county varies tremendously.  County records in many states do not indicate additions or newly finished houses by builders thus, by using such data, Zillow’s estimates are likely to be less accurate.  Also, what if your home is new and in good condition but in an older neighborhood?  The chances are, the public records used by Zestimate will be inaccurate.  A true real estate agent will find out the actual location of the property, features and all the details and most accurate information that will affect the home’s value.

It is important to note that a system does not recognize similar market areas.  An example of such areas is the school districts and many areas, the value of a property is determined by the school district in which it is in.

When selling your home, it is not just simply knowing its value estimate.  In addition to giving you a home value estimate, real estate agents also provide valuable services and advice that can help in marketing, listing, and negotiation.  A computer-generated tool can never replace that.  Although the Zestimates give you a picture of how much your home may be worth, no algorithm or any other computer program can beat the expertise of a real estate agent.  Although Zillow claims to have some procedures for human input on their valuation, this is a temporary and limited aid that may result in an incorrect estimate.  Another thing is that human input could be subjective and may end up altering the results hence reducing the integrity of this tool.  Anyone could just input anything.

Your licensed agent will provide an unbiased price valuation.  For sellers, having an inaccurate price evaluation leads you to list your property too low and potentially leaving money on the table or listing it too high making it stay on the market way longer than it should be.

A home value estimate provided by a person will be more accurate than an estimate by Zillow or any other similar online tool.  With that in mind, it is evident that Zillow cannot draw comparisons the way a real estate agent can and clearly, a home value estimate from a professional and local real estate agent is better than an estimate.

Zestimate may be an important tool that can be used as a starting point, but its estimates are not accurate and sufficient enough to help you make a housing decision.  It will require a lot of improvement before it can offer real benefits to consumers.  The best way and surest way to get an accurate value of a property are to have it evaluated by a licensed professional real estate agent in person.  With the expertise, market knowledge, designations, education, and experience, real estate agents are the people you should trust to give you an accurate estimate.  And it doesn’t end there. Selling or even just preparing to sell your home in the future is a tedious process.  Talking to a real estate professional makes it easier for you.  They do not just give you figures, they discuss and makes sure you understand all the process and what’s going to happen.  By the end of the day, you can be confident that with The Fejeran Group, they are highly qualified, ethical, and ready to assess a property professionally with good judgment.