How accurate is Zillow?

In real estate, the million (actually, more like billion) dollar question is this: how much is my house worth? Sites have popped up all over the internet claiming to estimate home values. Type in your address and – voila! – you have a neat and tidy figure for how much you should be able to sell your home for.

There’s only one problem, however. Those websites almost always are way off in estimating home values. Why? Because they don’t have any way of assessing what number of repairs need to be done on a home or, on the flip side, how many upgrades have been done. So one home that is literally falling apart may be next to another home that recently had $20,000 in upgrades done to it, and Zillow will list them as being worth just about the same amount, since the website’s algorithms don’t take those factors into account.

To illustrate the inaccuracy of these websites, I refinanced my mortgage last year and had to have an appraisal done on the property. An appraiser came out and walked around the outside and inside of my house taking detailed notes, and then did an extensive amount of research on the surrounding neighborhood that I live in to determine my exact home value. In other words, her appraisal was very detailed, and it needed to be, because that’s what the banks who provide the mortgages demand. So how close do you think her appraisal (taken just a year ago) compares to what Zillow currently says my home is worth? Zillow claims that my home is worth a whopping $38,000 more than what the appraiser concluded!

Now my home has probably gone up in a value a little bit over the past year, but I haven’t done $38,000 in renovations. The fact that Zillow would be that far off from what an actual appraiser concluded a home was worth is shocking to some degree, but again, those websites aren’t factoring in the inside of the home, which is the most important part! So we should expect them to be inaccurate.

Very few people are able to sell their home for the price that Zillow says they should. In fact, Zillow benefits from over-inflating home values because that will bring more people to the website to feel good about their home. It is a sad but very real reality, and if you really want to know what your house is worth, you should talk to someone who wants to buy it. Ultimately, your property is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.

The good news is that finding a buyer is easy! Upstate House Buyers will evaluate your house for you and tell you what we would be willing to pay for it. Ultimately, your house is only worth what someone is willing to buy it for, and we would be glad to tell you what we will buy it for if you will only fill out a short survey on your house here.

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