Q: How Is Zillow Like Social Media and WebMD?

  • Denise Graves
  • 01/4/21
Here’s why Zestimates aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.
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Everyone wants to know whether their Zestimate is accurate, but it’s best to think about it as the real estate parallel of WebMD; a Zestimate is a great place to start and get a general idea, but it shouldn’t be fully trusted. Zillow uses both public and user information to make its valuation of a property. Tax records are an example of publicly available information, but the square footage on these documents may or may not correct. 
Perhaps you may have noticed that your neighbor is getting taxed on a value that’s $3,000 less than yours despite having a similar property. Our tax records here in Texas are not always valid, and that’s because we’re a non-disclosure state, meaning that when you buy or sell a property, the specifics of that transaction are not shared with the general public. Since Zillow’s valuation model depends so heavily on public info, the Zestimates in a non-disclosure state are shaky at best. 
Also, keep in mind that online estimations of your property’s value are just that—estimates. If Zestimates were truly accurate, they’d be called “Zappraisals.” Here’s something else you should know: Zillow’s algorithm can be altered by the user, meaning that anyone can go in there and beef up their property’s descriptions so that their Zestimate comes back with a higher dollar amount attached to it. 
The homes here in the Hill Country are unique, or at least there tends to be more variance from home to home, and that’s yet another problem for Zillow: Its model works best on homes that are similar to those around them. That’s because Zillow has to rely on comparables—no representative from Zillow will come to check out all the one-of-a-kind features inside your home. 
Now, this doesn’t mean that Zillow is all bad, it just means their estimates should be taken with a grain of salt. In a way, Zillow is just like social media: It’s fun to look at, but probably not the best place to be if you’re concerned about getting closer to the cold, hard truth. 
If you want a more reliable valuation, you need to call an expert agent who’s been inside countless homes and knows your local market like the back of their hand. Call, text Denise Graves today to find out what your home is worth in this market, or reach out if you simply have a few real estate-related questions. I’d love to hear from you soon!


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