Zillow, Trulia and other online real estate systems are great entertainment. For anyone who is just starting the process of purchasing or selling a home, and like to gather as much information as possible, they provide a loose idea, of home values and of possible homes for sale. Yet I have found, in speaking with my clients, as well as some of my colleagues, they miss the mark Big Time, there are MANY mistakes, and a lot of misinformation.
Everyone of my clients, who have used an online search system prior to contacting me to help them find the perfect home, stated that Many of the homes were already SOLD, there is a lot of misrepresentation of amenities, and some are even made up (they don’t exist anywhere in the system, and no one has any record of them being for sale). Here’s what one of them posted on my website (http://www.orangecountyrealestates.com); “Your website has been a great help in trying to find the right home. The search options available are great and the feature to save searches is very helpful and time saving. One big advantage over websites like Zillow and Trulia is that the listings are always up to date. Prior to my knowledge of your website, I found many properties on Zillow and Trulia that weren’t available anymore or had errors in listing. This lead to false perceptions and were a waste of time. Thank you for showing me your website. I really appreciate it.” Ritesh Meta 9/30/13
When it comes to putting a value on your home, the results are likely just as far off. Sites have been as much as $100,000 in difference, on the same home. Zestimates (by Zillow) rank their accuracy, for Los Angeles & Orange County, 4 stars (their highest ranking) as of the date of this article.
Here’s what they published for the OC (LA stats are within 2% pints in each level); “…our estimates are with __% of the sold price, __% of the time. Within 5% – 40% of the time, within 10% – 67% of the time and within 20% – 85% of the time.” Note; All rounded to nearest whole.
So, if we use the current OC median price, of $680,000, they may have only been off by $34,000, 60% of the time. You may be ok to eat that, if you don’t want to talk to a professional. Yet it could be a $68,000 loss in 33% of the cases, which would make it a little more difficult to swallow. It gets better…They would only be off 15% of the time, by $136,000. Is that bad?
If I were one in 7 people, who could stand to lose $136,000, I would CERTAINLY ask a professional.
Your local Realtor (if they have over 20 years experience, like I do) can Save you money, by finding the perfect house, in the quickest time and negotiating the best offer, and/or Make you the most Money, through correct pricing, marketing and negotiating your current home’s sale. All while making sure everyone is protected through the most up-to-date disclosures.
Go ahead and satisfy your curiosity and be entertained with an online site, but use a Realtor, when you get serious about buying, selling or investing in real estate. And don’t be surprised if they come up with some very different information.