We’ve all seen the advertisements online and television for Zillow, which purports to put the power of home buying into the hands of you, the consumer. But is it true? Is Zillow the Amazon.com of real estate? And what exactly is a “zillow” anyway? (The closest we could figure is when a zebra and a willow tree have a baby).
Should you use Zillow for your real estate needs? We’re going to say no, but we’ll tell you why we here at Meridian Realty Group don’t recommend it for anything beyond the most casual of browsing:
Reason 1: Unverified and Often Incorrect Home Information
From square footage to ownership, interior details to acreage, the information Zillow pulls from whatever databases it uses will get a lot of details wrong! Even worse, many of the homes that Zillow suggests are “for sale” are nothing of the sort. This means that instead of getting a legitimate search for homes that meet your needs and are available for you to purchase, something that any legitimate real estate agent can provide, you waste your valuable time looking at properties that may have already sold, don’t have the specific amenities and attributes you need, or were never available in the first place! Additionally, since some real estate agents pay Zillow to advertise on their site, the agent listed for the property is rarely the actual listing agent, but a third party who knows nothing about the home.
Reason 2: Zillow’s “Zestimates” are really quite “Zerrible”
Zillow offers a branded estimate called “Zestimate” that suggests what home values may be, and if you’re a homeowner considering putting your home up for sale, you may think this could be a valuable tool. It would be, if it was based on reality! However, these “Zestimates” are algorithm-based and have been determined to be inaccurate by as little as $14,000 every time. This means that many times they’re off by more than $14,000! This means that if you’re trying to get any sense of the value of your home, using Zillow is going to end up being quite “Zinaccurate” and you’re better off talking to a legitimate real estate agent who can help you determine your home’s value with tools that will provide you with a better sense of what purchase price you can get.
Reason 3: Spam, Zillow-style
At the end of it all, Zillow is a business, and that business makes its money by selling any data you provide to every single real estate agent who’s willing to pay for it. This means that when you submit your information to do a search on their site, you will get inundated by emails, phone calls, texts, and messages by carrier pigeons, all from hungry real estate agents wanting your business. Most buyers and sellers we’ve worked with appreciate having one agent on their side who works closely with them, knows their needs and goals intimately, and is more about quality than quantity.
Meridian Realty Group isn’t going to tell you not to use Zillow. But we will say that if you want a better experience buying or selling your home that’s accurate, focused on your needs, and about you, not about a mass marketing experience, contact a local agent instead. You’ll be much, much Zappier.