The Truth About Zillow

Dated: 02/26/2019

Views: 170

In a world filled with technology, we are able to find what we are looking for with the tap of a finger.  The annual survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors found that in 2018, 50% of buyers first found their home on the internet. CRAZY.

You type in homes for sale in your Google search engine. What are the first three website that pop up? Zillow,, and Trulia. All big money makers in the advertising industry. That's right, I said advertising. Companies like these don't make a dime off a home sale. They make their money when Realtors advertise (to capture leads) on their websites. 

As a home seller, the frustrations can set in. Have you ever heard of a Zestimate? Zestimates are Zillow's algorithm-produced appraisals. They provide people with a basic estimate of what a particular property is worth. Red flags should be flashing in your head when you hear this! Has Zillow ever been to your property to walk through it? Does Zillow know the improvements you've made to the home? Does Zillow even know where North Dakota is?? ;) 

The answer to those questions are no (well, they know where North Dakota is). Zillow has never seen your home, nor do they know the area so how can they come up with an accurate price for your greatest investment? They take the basics: what has sold in the area, the square footage, and the number of bedrooms to find their Zestimate. There are so many more factors to determine what a home is worth. A study found that  Zestimates can be off $14,000+. As a real estate agent, it is a very hard conversation to have with a home seller about a Zestimate they have saying their home is worth $20,000 more than what the local market says it's worth. Over-pricing your home can kill it (next weeks blog!). 

To top it off, Zillow sticks their Zestimate right on your listing information. You see the listed price, $324,900, then scroll down to Zestimate and see those numbers. ZESTIMATE RANGE $316,000 - $356,000.  Then the comments start to come in: 

"My house is worth way more than you (Realtor) said." Or is some cases, "This offer is terrible. Why would someone offer me $25,000-$30,000 less than what I have it listed for?"

Another frustration (for both buyers and sellers)  is the data on Zillow. For example, on Zillow, the home says it has 4 bathrooms but in the local MLS system (the correct system), it says the house has a full bathroom, two half bathrooms, and a 3/4 bath. Seeing the 4 bathrooms, it's hard to say the size of them. 

By all means, this post isn't to knock companies like Zillow or They obviously know what they are doing to generate that much revenue. The purpose is to educate you on the quality of information they provide, as every local and state real estate market is different, and to always check your sources. Calling the listing agent, or your buyers agent, direct is always your best option when searching for a home. Find a home you like on Zillow? Take that MLS number or address and type it in on your local MLS website to find the details you are looking for. 

Does Team Terry have their listings on Zillow? You bet! Did you not hear there are 186 homes viewed per second and that 188 million people visit Zillow monthly?! Getting your home sold is our top priority. We are where the buyers are. Surely there are tough conversations about what is found on Zillow, but great things come from it too. All too often, one of our buyers will search for homes, find one on Zillow, and shoot us a text with the address and wanting to know more about it. Great, awesome, fantastic. Coming to us with your interests, and not putting your trust in a website. 

For questions, comments, and concerns, email me at

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