Fact: Zillow & Trulia Suck at Estimating Home Values
Why Do Zillow and Trulia Suck So Bad? Well, how much time do you have?
The other day I had an encounter with a home seller who refused to believe there was even a remote possibility that Zillow’s estimate on their home was not accurate. They were hellbent on listing their home for the Zestimate price, which was around $25,000 more than what I showed them their home was actually worth. Despite all the evidence I presented, they had that damn Zestimate burned into their brains. They decided that Zillow’s home value estimate was gospel.
Honestly, I don’t blame these Sellers. They were just the victims of some great marketing by the Zillow marketing team. Zillow’s marketing department should be very proud. They did their job very well on these particular sellers. These sellers had decided that Zestimates are 100% accurate, and that I was trying to “screw them out of $25,000.” This meeting quickly came to end though when I asked them a simple question about the Zestimates…
“Has Zillow seen the inside of your home?”
They dismissed the question of course, and we agreed to disagree. I went on my way, and they most likely just brought in the next starving Realtor who will say anything just to get the listing, whether honest or not. The toughest part of this situation was that these Sellers still have not sold their home, even in one of the hottest Sellers markets I’ve ever seen in Salt Lake City. I feel for these guys because I know they really needed to sell the home quickly. By not being honest with these homeowners about the true value if their home, their new Realtor is doing them a huge disservice. These sellers had drawn a line in the sand, and are now dealing with the consequences of their decision. I wish them well, and hopefully they are able to sell their home soon.
Soon after this encounter I decided to make this short video on Snapchat to help educate potential home sellers about Zestimates.
#1. Home Value Estimates (aka Zestimates) are WAY off:
Utah, like many other states, is what’s called a “non-disclosure” state, which means that no one is required to disclose how much they sold their home for. Zillow/Trulia does receive sales info from our local MLS here but if a home was sold off the MLS, then ZillowTrulia has no way to know what it actually sold for. Even though ~95% of homes are sold on the MLS with a Realtor, the remaining 5%-ish that are not included is enough to skew the numbers. Do you want to base your decisions based on mostly accurate info? I didn’t think so.
Let’s ask ourselves one simple question… How the hell is a computer formula or algorithm supposed to accurately value your home if IT’S NEVER SEEN THE INSIDE!!?? By relying on an algorithm to value your home you’re basically saying that the interior of a home is not important… well, the interior is more than just important… it’s EVERYTHING! I don’t really need to elaborate on why the interior of a home is important, do I? If you don’t realize there is a difference between A) a home with shag carpet, dated wallpaper, wood paneling, and brass hardware and B) a fully remodeled home with quartz countertops, subway tile backsplash, stainless appliances, huge master bathroom with steam shower, fresh two-tone paint, and brand new high-end carpet… then you’re dumber than a box of rocks. Please don’t call me. I can’t help you!
The only place to find the TRUE MARKET VALUE of your home is from a top local Realtor or an Appraiser. You’d have to pay for an appraisal, whereas any top rated Realtor in your area will be more than willing to do this for free. (Hint: I’m one of them!)
If you live in the greater Salt Lake City, Utah area, you can visit our Home Valuation tool to request a free Home Value Analysis.
#2. Not All Homes For Sale are Shown:
Fact of the matter is that in some parts of the United States, local MLS’s are pushing back against Zillow & Trulia and are refusing to provide them with a data feed of homes for sale. Uhh, that’s a big problem. If Zillow and Trulia aren’t getting the data feed, then they flat out won’t show the homes that are for sale in that area. Many consumers don’t know this and they go to Zillow to start their house hunt, thinking they are seeing everything on the market when in reality, they are only seeing a fraction of the homes for sale. If only I had a dollar for every time I could not find a specific home on Zillow, which was actively for sale at that exact moment.
#3. Inaccurate Information:
Zillow & Trulia are notorious for having incorrect information. I have personally seen a home show up as For Rent when it was actually For Sale. How do I know? I was the damn listing agent!
Sometimes homes that were sold weeks or months ago are still showing as For Sale by ZillowTrulia. They somehow didn’t get the memo that the sale went through.
Still, the most common inaccuracy that I see on Zillow is price changes. It may take days, weeks, or months for Zillow to reflect a price change that was done immediately on the local MLS. This is not the norm, but why take the risk of looking at an incorrect asking price? For example, you may do a search for homes for sale in Cottonwood Heights, Utah, up to $250,000. But a home that fits your wants/needs perfectly was listed for $259,900 until they dropped the price to $249,900 one week ago. If Zillow somehow fails to notice the price change, and you’re not using a Realtor or searching a local real estate home search website, you’ll miss out on this home. That sucks; it could’ve been your dream home.
This reason alone is reason enough to never use Zillow again, and shows why Zillow sucks. Why wouldn’t you want to search for home on a website that you KNOW has 100% up to date information? Only your local MLS can guarantee that, or a website that pulls the MLS data. (this website, SearchSaltLake.com in Salt Lake City is one of these websites)
Zillow claims that they get everything updated every 15 min, directly from the local MLS, but somehow these goof ups still happen. I’m sure it’s unintentional, but some homes slip through the cracks. Why take the risk?
- Are Zestimates Accurate or Not? by Kyle Hiscock
- Zillow Home Value Estimator and MISSING Real Estate Listings by Ryan Fitzgerald
- Zillow’s Typical Error is $17,860 by John Wake
- The #1 Way to Sell Your Home for Top Dollar by Dustin Brohm
About the Author: The above article on Why Zillow and Trulia Suck So Bad was written and provided by Dustin Brohm, a leader in the field of Real Estate sales, marketing, and smart home technology. Dustin can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 801-455-8753. Dustin has helped many people buy and sell Salt Lake City area homes for years.
Thinking of selling your home? I have a real passion for buying and selling Real Estate, as well as marketing & smart home technology. I’d love to share my expertise!
I help people buy and sell real estate in the following Salt Lake area cities & neighborhoods: Holladay, Cottonwood Heights, Millcreek, Olympus Cove, Canyon Rim, Sugarhouse, Midvale, Murray, East Millcreek, Sandy, White City, Draper, Riverton, Daybreak, South Jordan, West Jordan, Herriman, Bluffdale, South Salt Lake, The Avenues, Federal Heights, and of course, Salt Lake City.
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