I’ve dedicated several posts to uncovering the methodology behind online automatic home value estimates published by the Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor websites. The facts are fascinating, and the reasons for their inaccuracy are unavoidable. The purpose of those posts is to educate the consumers about the value of using the a real estate professional to find out how much your home is really worth. But, is there any value to the Zestimate or other online home value estimate?
Actually, I think so. Shocking, right? Let me explain.
How to use online estimates
There are several reasons why the Zestimate or other online automatic estimate might be useful, but some major caveats. Let’s start with the online estimate “don’ts”:
- Don’t assume any of the data on any home sales website is accurate
- Don’t forget that home owners can manipulate the Zestimate by adding unverified information
- Don’t treat a computer generated automatic estimate as the same as a professional estimate
- Don’t use the Zestimate as the basis for establishing a listing price
- Don’t use the Zestimate as a negotiation tool when buying or selling
OK, then what good is an online automatic value estimate?
Here are a few things to consider – things that you might do with a Zestimate or other automatic estimate created by an algorithm:
- Consider the Zestimate a very rough, ballpark figure of what your home might sell for
- Use it to see if these websites are giving the public accurate information about your home (and yes, many people do manipulate the information on these websites)
- If Zestimate data is inaccurate, identify whether the fault lies with Zillow or with your local authorities, and appeal to have it corrected
- Add accurate information to your home directly into Zillow (As you read in previous posts, this still won’t make the Zestimate as accurate as a home value estimate from a local professional, but it can’t hurt.)
- Look at the results of several different home value estimate websites to see if there are similarities or differences.
I know that’s not much, but it’s something. If you view that online automatic estimate as a rough estimate of what your home might sell for, plus or minus 10%-20% or more, then that’s probably fair. Just don’t base a listing price or an asking price on what Zillow says.
If you have no interest in really selling or purchasing a property, then the Zestimate or other online estimate is good enough. After all, when you do decide to make a move, you’ll need a fresh, accurate estimate anyway. When the time comes to find out what your home is really worth, contact a local real estate professional.
Are you curious about what your home is really worth? Do you have your eye on a home to purchase? Contact me today to get started.
Have you read the other posts in this series?
Contact me today to find out what your home is really worth.
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Aaron Lovett is a full-service Realtor in Smyrna, TN, working out of the regional office of Weichert Realtors, The Andrews Group in Murfreesboro, TN. His service area includes Smyrna, Murfreesboro, the remainder Rutherford county and surrounding areas. Aaron has lived in the area for over a decade. He takes pride in helping home buyers and sellers reach their real estate goals.
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