I like to address topics in my monthly newsletter that come up when I’m talking with clients. This month, I’d like to talk about Zillow’s “Zestimates.” A Zestimate is Zillow’s term for their estimated value of your home. While sometimes it is pretty accurate (they give a range), other times it isn’t. In fact, the CEO of Zillow apparently said the Zestimate for his own home was not accurate!

It makes sense, if you think about it. After all…

How would Zillow know exactly what upgrades you have in your house?

They look at the zip code, the assessed value in the public record, the square footage, and what comparable homes based on those factors have sold for.

But there is no way for them to know if you’ve just upgraded your kitchen, renovated your Master Bath, or if your home has good landscaping and curb appeal (worth a lot, to be sure!).

Some zip codes (like ones in Loudoun and Fairfax County) often have multiple high schools — and certainly many elementary and middle schools. Some may be higher ranked than others, affecting property values, but Zillow doesn’t account for that.

Other things Zillow misses: finished basements (since many weren’t properly permitted if done after settlement), busy streets, and desirability of a lot based on views, trees, privacy, etc. And last but not least, structural and systems improvements like a new roof, new HVAC unit, or new hot water heater add value to your home, but Zillow wouldn’t know about these, either.

As I like to say, “Friends don’t let friends rely on Zestimates!”

It’s important to get a more accurate feel from a local Realtor® if you’re giving serious consideration to selling your home. Call or email us if you’d like us to do a free analysis of your home’s value. We’ll take all the above factors into account.

One more caveat about using Zillow for home searches: Because they syndicate the information from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) that Realtors® like us have access to, there’s a lag of a day or two on new listings and in reporting homes that have already gone under contract. This makes a big difference when looking for a home in this competitive market. You also won’t always be able to see Coming Soon listings in Zillow. That’s why it’s always good to be working with a Realtor® who can set you up with a customized daily email of listings directly from the MLS that fit your criteria…and that contains the most current information to give you the advantage you need vs. other buyers. Let us know if you’d ever like us to set up a search tool for you!