Why Zillow Zestimates Aren’t Always Accurate

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Zillow has become a platform many buyers and sellers have visited during their search for property information. While this online information center offers great starting and market comparison data, accuracy is often questioned by real estate professionals. This is primarily because Zillow does not always have the correct, complete, or recent information on many listings.

Our office has noticed that estimated property taxes listed, general property and home information and their Zestimates can be wrong, often either due to inaccuracies or updates that have made to laws or the property since last sold . We always suggest that potential buyers and sellers reach out to a real estate agent or realty office to confirm the data found in Zillow. The Zestimates can be a good starting point to have a general idea of pricing in neighborhoods but Zillow does not fully understand every current market condition, or the current condition of the property. It is hard even with real-time technology updates, to stay on top of every market in the United States.

We have noticed inconsistencies with the data estimates within the technology range from town to town. One town may be going into a buyer’s market while another nearby is going into a seller’s market. This will affect the pricing on homes in both of those areas. In a buyer’s market, there are a lot of homes available which provides buyers the opportunity to shop around and buy a home for a price at or below market prices. In a seller’s market, there is less inventory for buyer’s allowing the seller to increase prices which causes buyers to buy homes at or above market prices.

As for the condition of properties, Zillow is not able to inspect every home. This means that someone who buys and renovates a house quickly to resell a “fixer upper” could completely affect the data determining pricing within a town, neighborhood or even on a specific street.

As an example, a fixer upper home may have sold for less within the last year but the new owner refurbished everything, increasing its value prior to resale. When the owner put it back on the market and looked at the Zestimate it would show a price based on the average area increase or decrease in the market, and not the work that the owner had put into it. The fixer upper home at $100,000 6 months ago could now be worth $300,000 with the repairs. Yet the Zestimate would show a number closer to the $100,000.

The Covid-19 pandemic has also changed the pricing of homes, specifically in the Lake Placid region. Many people purchased properties and homes in the area, moving away from more congested cities from 2020-2022. This could also be seen in many rural areas where the prices of homes have increased over the past few years. The Zestimate range is generally a better idea of what the home value is versus the actual estimate. An example of this can be seen below, in a screen shot taken in early November 2022:

Zillow Zestimate

Many townhomes in this area that are similar have been selling consistently between $499,000 – $550,000 price range. The Zestimate shows that the condo valuet is 23 – 37% higher than what the current market is. Even the Zestimate range is out from what it should be, which is closer to what is stated above. We recommend that buyers or sellers who plan on using this look closer to the lower end of the range and expect sale value number closer to that.

Reaching out to an agent or real estate broker after will provide more information on what the market is showing. Also, you can read this summary of the newest Lake Placid area properties available through ADKPP in November 2022. With this information they will be able to guide you to adjust accordingly what may land higher than the low end or right at that number.

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