How Accurate is Zillow?

Will Bateson
Will Bateson
Published on May 2, 2021

First, start with what Zillow says your home is worth:

Zillow is the #1 website for real estate search. So why do most realtors hate Zillow while consumers love it?

  1. Many consumers take Zillow’s estimate of their home’s value as fact. If Zillow says your home is ‘worth’ $800K and a realtor estimates your home is worth $750K, many homeowners will believe Zillow instead of the realtor.
  2. Conversely, if Zillow says your home is worth $750K and the realtor believes it is worth $800K based on comparable properties, some buyers will not want to offer more than $750K (i.e. they believe Zillow’s estimate is accurate)
  3. When you search for a home on Zillow, if you have questions or want to see the home, you click on a link that you think will get you in touch with the listing agent. In fact, it will send your information to a realtor who has paid Zillow lots of money to get your information. Listing agents are not real happy to have your info sent to the highest bidder, rather than themselves.
    Ok, so how accurate is Zillow? Is it more accurate than other automated values, like those advertised by realtors on Facebook? Zillow’s estimate of your home’s value is based on algorithms for your neighborhood. They are more accurate than they were a few years ago, but still tend to be off by up to 10% – even Zillow admits this. In many parts of the country, being off 5% only amounts to $10K or so. But here in the bay area, being off by 5% can amount to $50,000 (or more!), which is quite a bit!

My suggestion: Use Zillow’s estimate as a starting point, a rough estimate. Then, if you want a more detailed, accurate analysis, contact a realtor. We evaluate homes every day and are always happy to share with you our analysis.

I offer my analysis of a home’s value 2 ways:

  1. An in person evaluation, in your home. This will take 15 minutes or so to see your improvements, deferred maintenance, etc.
  2. An online evaluation, for those not ready to have me visit their home. This will be more accurate than an automated valuation like Zillow’s, but not as precise as if I can see your home.
    At the end of the day, your home’s true market value is what a buyer is willing to pay for it. Zillow’s previous CEO sold his home 1n 2017 – for 40% less than the Zillow Zestimate at that time. His was a multi million dollar home, which are more difficult to comp.

So check out your home’s value on Zillow, but do not take the value as fact.

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