Personal Finance, The Home 

Zillow Zestimate Review

Email  Print Print (beta), an operation launched today by the founder of Expedia, will give you an estimate of the value of your home (or a home you wish to buy, the neighborhood its in, comparables, and basically any place in the country). CEO Richard Barton hopes that services like his will push down realtor fees and put more power in the hands of buyers and sellers, instead of the middlemen and women. In such a competitive market, it’s amazing the 6% standard fee still stands but that’s not the point, let’s see what this tool can do.

I put in my house and it pegged the value at $268,000 (value range of $238,520 – $281,400), or $27,000 less than what I paid for it. However, it also had the statistics of the house wrong such as the square footage and bedroom/bathroom combinations and so I was able to “refine” them. Zillow pulled the data from old records because it listed the square footage ~at 1600 sq. ft. with unknown # of bedrooms, and 2.5 baths which is incorrect (sellers made some renovations). I modified the characteristics to four bedrooms, three and a half baths, and 2400 sq. ft. The refined value was $320,309. Ultimately, it’s all fun and games anyway since I’m not looking to buy.

I’m assuming Zillow takes in the latest sales figures and uses them to plot trends, there are a lot of value trends, rankings, and calculations that they provide in nice colorful tables. A fun tool they provide is a map showing comparables and so I was able to find the Zestimate of some of my neighbor’s homes. There are a lot of other features that I haven’t gotten around to poking at so there might be a hidden gem I missed.

Give it a try and please let me know what you think, even if it’s just about how you were surprised your house/condo was over/under-valued.

{ 11 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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11 Responses to “Zillow Zestimate Review”

  1. Brian says:

    I gave it a try with my old house which I sold in September of 2005 and my new house. My new house is brand new in a new subdivision. It could not find my new house. The map they show, even showed the subdivision area, but there were no houses there, so I’m not sure how old the data is.

    It returned the tax assessed value of my old house which was ~$78k. This is not even near what the house is worth as I sold it for $235k.

    Given what I found, I’m not sure I put any credibility into this.

  2. jim says:

    I think in some areas it’s running off stale data, depending how quick your municipality is in recording sales and re-assessments. Did you look at any of the trending and tracking data? I have no idea how to verify it but I bet it’s off sales figures (they can’t possibly make it up and expect not to get discovered)

  3. Since I live in NH, they didn’t have any information for my house :(. I was disappointed.

  4. claire says:

    I was disappointed, but I’m hoping it will get better rather quickly. Sounds like the launch was a little premature.

  5. FMF says:

    I tried yesterday and it was swamped — wouldn’t let me in. Seems like they may have a lot of start-up issues.

  6. Jose says:

    Added a review of it on my website:

    Review at Money and Investing

  7. Caitlin says:

    I helped build a valuation tool back when I worked at (before they just sold mortgages) and I was impressed with Zillow’s beta launch (well, once it was actually up) I think they are doing something that is extremely difficult to do, and I think they will ultimately do it well. A lot of folks say they are unimpressed, but it’s not clear if they did the “customize” step or not (like to fix incorrect square footage, to update with home improvements etc) since I found THAT step to have the most impact -both in bringing the zestimate on target and wowee factor.

  8. Mandy says:

    One thing I noticed was that depending on the areas I was looking at, some of the zestimates were pretty far below the actual selling prices of homes. I know for a fact that it was off by more than a million dollars on my parents house (they live in one of the most expensive housing markets in California) and it didn’t list many of the comps in the area that I know sold for multi-millions of dollars.

    But still a pretty impressive tool.

  9. No data for my street. It’s pretty new (the houses are 3-4 years old), but still…

  10. I use some zillow tools on my site. It works great. But ultimately clients still need a pro to get the correct value. I think zillow is a great tool for sellers just thinking about selling.

  11. Jeff Baird says:

    Zillow can be a starting point, but on average it over-states the value of houses by over 10 percent. I gets a house value +/- 10% of its evenutal selling price about 59 percent according to an Appraisal Institute study. One of the reasons they found is that Zillow doesn’t take into account whether a property is vacant or not — and that will over-estimate the value of vacant homes.

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