Zillow is one of the most visited online real estate marketplaces in the country, with more than 200 million unique site visits a month.
But is it too good to be true? Can you really window shop for homes all around the country and pull up data on homes in every neighborhood and community?
Well, there is a reason shopping on Zillow has become a hobby of sorts. It has an easygoing and intuitive design that allows users to narrow down their search criteria, make comparisons among homes and even connect with agents that are selling a particular house.
Questions About Zillow
Questions about Zillow and its algorithms are constant in realtor circles. Not only are we constantly competing with Zillow, but sometimes we are running damage control for the site too.
For one, Zestimates (the estimates for what a home is currently worth) can throw potential buyers and sellers. Zillow’s algorithm for determining these estimates can sometimes miss the mark.
The Zillow Effect
The algorithm combines thousands of data points to determine a home value. But what we are seeing in the real estate community is potential sellers confused as to why their assumed home value is lower than what’s on Zillow.
My concern (and the concern of some other realtors) is that these assumed home values could inflate prices for an entire neighborhood or area.
So Zillow not only can confuse those entering the marketplace but even have an actual impact on prices as well. As buyers notice certain trends, in an area, they may be more inclined to put in an offer for a home around those price points, even if they are inflated.
So how should you use Zillow?
I personally believe it is best to use Zillow for window shopping homes in different cities and peek into those homes well above our own price bracket. I’ll give you this — perusing Zillow can be insanely fun.
But my advice is to also work with a realtor to actually help find what you are looking for.
It’s no secret the inventory on Zillow can be behind. Potential buyers constantly call us to ask about properties that already sold — properties they saw on Zillow. Our current market is moving at such a lightning speed, that even Zillow cannot keep up.
Check in with a realtor for home values, and inventory if you are looking to buy or sell a home, and to put in offers.