Zillow – The numbers are all WRONG

From time to time I have clients asking about Zillow.  Is it correct information?  My clients will even go so far as to trust the figures,  the zestimates and all the information you see listed.  That is so WRONG.

First lets get something straight.  Selling a house and formulating a market price (value) for that home is not like selling a seat on a plan.  A majority of the seats on a plan are the same, except for first class and business, but in reality it is just a seat that carries more service.  So buying a seat on a Delta plan is the same as a US AIr, American or South West.  Just some carries can sell them high and low. 

Now when you go on line to do you plug in the option for that plane seat, leather, vinyl or cloth? germ free or a germ factory, isle or window, and now you can’t get the exit row because they ahve to make sure you are physically fit to sit there.  And they are charging you extra for the leg room.  Ok you get the point.

Zillow gets its information from county tax records.  Public information that is available and they put it in a nice neat format that everyone like.  Color, graphs and all the zestimates you can handle. 

Here is what is uses:

recent sales data in the area, square footage that is in the tax records (most likely wrong), the last sales amount and then they come up with a square foot price.  SP/SF = $PSF price. 

Now if it were that easy to price out a home then every 13 year old computer geek would be in business and the Real Estate agents would be looking for another career path.  Zillow makes it look good but the numbers are all WRONG. 

Example:  A large upscale home in Richmond, VA was listed for $1,295,000 in the MLS.  (assessed value with the county is $1,305,500). After several agents, and multiple price drops and over a year to sell it finally closed for $730,000.

If I were the neighbors I would be pissed.  Most of the homes Price Per SF solds is around $200.00- $215.000.  That is a HUGE drop to $92 sold SF.  You might be thinking short sale, foreclosure, steel, deal of the century or the house needed a ton of work.  Actually not.  The house was in excellent condition and solid custom construction of a home.  But why so CHEEP? 

You wont find that answer on Zillow.  Because it can’t compute the factor the house was purchased for $730,000 and a house trade of $561,000.  Technically the home sold for $1,291,000 but you would never know that by looking and relying on Zillow number. 

I believe in Santa and the Ester Bunny before I believed everything I saw on Zillow and you should too.  Consult a REALTOR and get the truth behind the numbers. 

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