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Zillow, great source but buyer beware

zillowWant to know how much your home is worth? One popular way is to go to Zillow.com and get a zestimate. A zestimate is Zillow’s estimate of what your home may be worth. But how reliable is that zestimate?

A Zillow estimate can get you in the general ball park, but be prepared for the estimate to off by as much as 10 or 15 percent in some cases. The only way to get a true accurate value of your home is to have a quality Realtor look into the property.

If you were looking to sell a 2001 Dodge pickup truck and you found two that had sold in your neighborhood in the last 6 months, the first sold five months ago for $10,000 and the second sold three months ago for $6,000 what does that mean to the value of your pickup? It depends, maybe nothing at all. Just because one sold for $4,000 less three months later does not automatically mean that yours is worth $6,000 or less and just because prices were dropping quickly three months ago does not mean the still are. There are to many factors to consider like mileage, condition and features.

There is a lot to compare when doing a quality CMA (comparative market analysis). A Realtor can do their homework and make sure they are comparing Mac apples to Mac apples or Sunkist oranges to Sunkist oranges. A Realtor will also have more recent information than Zillow has access to. Another problem that Zillow can make is it goes off public records. If a public record is wrong, and yes it does happen, Zillow has no idea while a Realtor has a much better chance of telling you that is the situation.

Does that mean you can never use Zillow for a good rough estimate of what your home is worth? No, but if you are thinking about selling your home, and want to know it’ true value then talk to a Realtor who is willing to do a quality CMA and then you will know for sure you are getting what you are after.