Thursday, August 15, 2019 / by Ashley Lay
Trying to Find a Home on Your Own?
The Zillow Group sites, Zillow and it’s cousin Trulia, are two of the most popular real estate sites out there. Thousands of potential home buyers and sellers use its free services every day. But is the information you’re getting actually accurate? You might be surprised about what you’re missing out on. Here are three reasons why you should ditch the robot for a realtor:
1. Outdated Listings
A recent study Redfin found that 36% of homes for sale on Zillow were no longer active on the local MLS. Because some brokerages have discontinued their contract with the site, if a realtor doesn’t manually enter their listing or update it when it’s sold, some can stay on the site for years before taken down! Plenty of buyers think they’ve found their dream home, only discover it has already been sold.
The MLS is the original source for listings. Realtors are required to enter their listings there, then, for brokerages that have agreed to share their listings with Zillow, the information is auto-populated over. Unfortunately, even this often ends up like a bad game of telephone. Information doesn’t always translate accurately, and never quickly, making Zillow listings unreliable as best and misleading at worst.
2. Inaccurate Estimates
Zillow’s “Zestimates” seem like an easy way to determine if the price you want to pay (or sell for!) is accurate, but this number is based off comparable sales in the neighborhood and if nearby homes haven’t sold in several years, this could be a huge problem. Plus, Zillow doesn’t have inspectors verifying square footage, amenities or other data. Neither remodels nor catastrophic damage mean nothing in this model.
Therefore, these “estimates” usually have a 7-8% margin of error–going either way! According to economist John Wake, the average error on a Zestimate is $14,000 more or less than the proper price. Usually it’s more than that! That’s a BIG chunk of change! These inaccurate estimates can substantially hurt a home’s potential to sell or drive buyers away from a great find.
3. The Cons of a Robot Realtor
We all have days when talking to Siri is about all the social interaction we can handle, but relying on an automated system like Zillow to inform you about one of the largest and most important purchases of you life means you’ll be missing out on so much value. A realtor can set you up on a similar (though more up to date!) automated search on the MLS if you want to dig through listings yourself, but nothing replaces an actual realtor.
They can help determine if that home you think you could never afford is actually overpriced, or if that sweet little family-friendly bungalow has cracks in the foundation the owner is not publicly disclosing. They know the market, the industry. And they get to know YOU. Although you might never take a second look at that ranch with the lime green living room, your realtor knows that open floor plan and the huge deck is EXACTLY what you’ve been looking for and one coat of primer and two cans of “Dove Gray” will make that “no way” your dream home for under $100.
So although Zillow is attractive, easy to use and free, don’t be fooled by a knock off. There’s no replacement for going to the source. Establishing a relationship with a local brokerage and finding the right agent for you will open up a whole world of possibilities.
Tired of searching on your own? View our listings and contact us today!