A few years ago, Zillow came onto the real estate scene and has given the old tried and true Realtor.com a run for its money. Since that time, I have learned I have a love/hate relationship with Zillow.
The hate: Buyers and Sellers LOVE “the Zestimate”. The real first time I experienced “the Zestimate” was when meeting a homeowner, I am told Zillow said his home was worth $500,000! Pretty good I am thinking. Until I realize his property is an early 1900’s home that has been added onto several times, hasn’t been updated in 40 years and is a bit moldy. To its credit, it did have a lot of square footage, a nice lot and a lot of potential. After talking the seller down from $500,000 and marketing the property, it eventually sold for $80,000.
The Zestimate runs off algorithms that use the surrounding area to calculate a property’s value but doesn’t account for the condition of the surrounding area or the subject property that is getting valued. Buyers and Sellers need to be aware that the Zestimate is NOT the fair market value. The fair market value is what a buyer is willing to pay, and a seller is willing to take.
The love: Buyers love Zillow and come there in droves. They love the easy searchability, they love the pre-foreclosures, and they love “the Zestimate”. This love buyers have for Zillow leads to lots of clients and customers for our team.
The hate: Pre-foreclosures. In my opinion, this is going to get someone killed. Recently, a lady called the office extremely upset. Since my name and number shows up as a premier agent on Zillow she thought I had something to do with her home being labeled a “pre-foreclosure”. A buyer who had seen this “pre-foreclosure” on Zillow rode by her house, knocked on her door and told her she wanted to see this home in foreclosure. The lady was cussed and threatened by this homeowner to get off her property immediately. The owner then calls and lets me know how closely this buyer came to getting shot. Not good.
The truth: Zillow is a great tool for buyers and sellers. However, Zillow is not up to date. It takes time for information we, as Realtors, put into the local MLS to filter down to Realtor.com (who gets along with the MLS) and then to Zillow (who is a Realtor.com competitor). This leads to other buyers, who are working closely with a Realtor, getting the jump on properties as they come to the market. We get calls every day on homes that a buyer has seen on Zillow that are already under contract. Buyers also need to be educated that “pre-foreclosure” only means a homeowner has missed a mortgage payment or two. These properties are a LONG WAY from being on the market and some never make it to the MLS as the homeowner has gotten caught up on their payments.
What do you think? Love Zillow or hate Zillow?