Online Home Estimation: Does it Have Value?

Zillow, an online home estimator, was launched in 2006 with much fanfare. It was lauded by some as “another step in replacing the real estate agent”.  And who knows, maybe some day it will.  Many real estate agents hate online home estimators, as they continue to be intimidated by technology.  While Zillow and others do provide sales prices of your neighbors, it is not intuitive to the point where it can point out differences between your property and the neighbor’s – especilaly condition issues, or recent impovements. I mean, Zillow does not go inside every home.  But neither do real estate agents. Does that make them inaccurate? It depends on the agent and how they evaluate your home, but that is a whole different post.

The benefit from online home estimators is simple. They provide the consumer with information which they may have not had access to a year or two ago. It is not always up to date, and when it comes time to telling you what your house is worth, I would trust their answer as much as I would trust the Magic 8 Ball. When it comes to assessing the actual value, however, I suggest you get 3 estimates, 3 different agents, and if your property is highly unique, make the investment and have a respected appraiser do the work for you for about $350.

So, why will my new website (almost ready to launch) include Cyberhomes, a Zillow-like online home estimator? It will increase trafic to my site, it does provide a service, and it is fun.

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2 Responses to Online Home Estimation: Does it Have Value?

  1. Dale Strack says:

    I believe that online evaluators are a great way for home sellers and buyers to get a range of value in a specific area. The tendency may be to view that value as accurate which of course would be a mistake for all the reasons you post. I love to use online evaluators for a variety of purposes however when it comes time to plan the sale or purchase of a home I turn to real estate professionals. If selling I like to hire a real estate appraiser to extimate resale value then discuss the sale of my home with a real estate agent. When buying I prefer to have an agent represent me and rely on them to do the research comparable sales of homes in the area. Thank Mike for posting this information. Its always valuable.
    Dale

  2. Hi Mike, it’s David from Zillow,

    Great post. You have excellent understanding of how automated valuations should (and should not) be used. Thanks!

    FYI – it’s easy to add Zillow to your website:
    – you could get a Zillow search widget here: http://www.zillowlite.com/
    – or, you could integrate Zestimates into your site using the open API. More details here: http://www.zillow.com/howto/api/APIOverview.htm

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