Zillow: More Information for Me and for You!Posted on October 3, 2012 by
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
Remember when your dear Aunt Myrtle asked you to help her sell that Miami condo? You did the research, helped arrange some inexpensive upgrades, priced the home sensibly, and voila! It sold in a week and a half. Aunt Myrtle was so grateful she sent you homemade bread and cookies for a year.
But that was then. This isn’t your Aunt Myrtle’s condo market anymore, and it’s not just because of the Great Recession. While prices were hurtling downward, the amount and availability of information online was increasing like crazy. Databases that used to cost hundreds of dollars per year are now available to everyone for free. And that includes resources like MLS listings that used to be available only to real estate professionals.
Zillow is a great example of just how far online resources have come. Established in 2005 by economists, Zillow doesn’t just provide current home listings; it’s a one-stop shop that analyzes everything from the housing market as a whole to detailed information on single properties. The smart folks in charge have developed mathematical algorithms based on comps and other data, allowing Zillow to predict (or “zestimate”) the value of any property based on comps and other data. Enter an address, and there it is: Zillow’s zestimate of a property’s worth, along with pictures and details from the listing. Comps are even available. And a blog. And a mortgage calculator, and a lot more! The mobile version can also use GPS to find properties nearby. You can sit in your car in front of a house that’s for sale, look up the price, check Zillow’s value estimate, and then see what houses might be available just around the corner. If you happen to be a bird-dogger, Zillow is your best friend.
Oh. Did I mention that Zillow is free? There’s not even a charge to list houses for sale or for rent.
And guess what: Your Aunt Myrtle can use it too. And so can your prospective home sellers. This can be a game-changer because now you are not the only one with data. Your seller can tell you that the “zestimate” of their house is about $25,000 more than what you are prepared to pay them. How are you going to handle that?
You’re going to handle it by understanding Zillow. Whether or not you actually use Zillow for your own purposes, you need to know how it works so you can resolve any misunderstandings the seller might have. In particular, you need to know that Zillow doesn’t count foreclosures when it’s calculating value. It also doesn’t factor in the number of bedrooms or bathrooms or a house’s condition. It’s just a number, folks. That’s why you’ll see zestimates that are way above the asking price, and zestimates that are way below. This might sound like a problem, but it is terrific news: you’ll be able to explain to the seller why the Zillow number is wrong (or right), and you can back it up with your own comps, which are more reliable.
Zillow is fast becoming one of the most important real estate websites available. Used properly and with integrity, it can make your work much more efficient. That means more houses, and more profitable transactions.
Say! Maybe it’s time to contact Aunt Myrtle again. She’s probably ready to get a new house. And I’m completely out of homemade bread…