Are Zillow estimates accurate?
I tried to answer that question in a post I did about Zillow “zestimates” back in February. To quote myself:
“I’ll put it this way: somebody once asked a wedding guest if so and so’s coverage of a celebrity wedding was accurate. The answer? ‘Well, the dress was white.’
And the Atlantic Ocean is blue (most of the time), and the sky is wide…the point I’m trying to make is that Zillow estimates on home prices are accurate in only the most broad sense.”
Consumers love Zillow because it gives them a sense of empowerment in the often very confusing world of real estate. That’s a good thing.
Zillow also gives the consumer a very broad idea of pricing in a particular neighborhood. Also a good thing.
When Zillow becomes a bad thing is when the consumer relies on it. Especially when the Zillow data is being used to make decisions that a true real estate pro knows are bad.
All real estate is local.
In other words, even though though two homes were built in the same neighborhood at the same time by similar companies, they still might price out differently.
A real estate pro who has seen all the homes for sale in a neighborhood over a period of years, who has seen how they show to real people in real time, and knows how that compares what the home is “worth” on paper, is going to know more about pricing than a Zillow zestimate. Sorry, that’s just the truth.
When a consumer tries to “prove” a point to a Realtor using Zillow data, when the Realtor is using up-to-the-minute accurate local sales data (which could include video, still images and backstory), not to mention actually having seen the home or homes in question…
Some Realtors just walk out. Thier reputation is too important. If they put a bad price on a house or put in a bad offer it will hurt their rep with other agents and make doing business harder.
Some Realtors will humor the consumer and write the offer or put the house up for a few weeks. They will do this in hopes that when the offer is shot down in flames, or when nobody shows the house, that the consumer will “get it” and finally respond to reason.
The point is, if a consumer relies on Zillow data instead of their Realtor, they aren’t going to get the house or they aren’t going to sell the house.
Personally, if a consumer comes in and relies on Zillow more than they rely on me I won’t work with them.
I’m not all-seeing. I don’t know everything. But I have been in this market for over a decade and most of the time I know what I’m talking about. If a customer won’t at least listen to my advice and consider it, I can’t trust them to do the right things during a transaction, or to take the transaction seriously. Which will hurt my rep on a transaction that won’t close anyway.
Now the bit about the Jacksonville Jaguars.
You may be aware that in the nearby city of Jacksonville there is a team called the Jaguars and that they play a sport called football.
You may also be aware that the Jaguars aren’t having a great season to date. A guy named Jack Del Rio is the head coach.
What you may not know is that I have an alter ego as a sportswriter, something I’ve been doing part-time for about 20 years now. I’ve covered a lot of football games. And I watch a lot of football on television.
So does that make me an expert on how to fix the woes of the Jacksonville Jaguars?
Not even a little bit.
I could write a book on what I don’t know about running a successful football team. I don’t know what the money issues are. I don’t know how to draft and scout. I don’t know how teach technique. There’s no way I could orchestrate the constant movement of players from the playing field to the bench and back in the correct over and correctly get the calls out in the 15 seconds or so the team has to do it.
And while Jack Del Rio currently doesn’t seem to be getting it done right now, he’s forgotten more about football than I’ll ever know. It might even be, ala the movie Major League, that the team has been set up to fail so it can move to L.A., where the franchise will easily double in value.
The point is this. I may know something about football, but Jack Del Rio (love him or hate him) is a pro, and will be working in football for a long time.
And even though you may know something about real estate from charts and graphs and spreadsheets gleaned from Zillow data, the Realtors of St. Augustine are the real pros in this market, and they will be working in the field for a long time to come.
The pros of today may even be the best in history: they’ve survived the recession and the housing collapse.
Listen to them.