Should I use Trulia or Zillow to put a price on my home?
Because, at least in the St. Augustine market, the prices they generate on a given address are consistently inaccurate.
I did a really basic sampling of seven homes that closed locally in the last ten days just to see how the estimates worked out.*
For Zillow five of the homes were within 10%…this is worlds better than when we sampled Zillow in 2011 and it was off over 20% on average..
However, one of the seven was off by 12%, and another was off by 21%. In addition, two of the seven were undervalued (by 8% and 12%).
So while being within 10% is fine for pricing, you would really hurt yourself if you priced your home at $274,000 and could really sell for $310,000, or priced at $146,000 and could really sell for $159,000.
And if you are a buyer who made an offer based on a Zillow estimate of a home at $101,000, it would probably kill you to know you could have bought it for $80,000.
For Trulia I was only able to find six of the seven properties. All but one were off by 10% or more, and three were off by more than 20%.
Trulia undervalued five of the six properties. In one case, Trulia valued a property that sold this week for $240,000…for $170,000, underestimating its market value by 29%.
I guess the upshot is that you can’t rely on systems for pricing that are right only part of the time. You can certainly use them to get a ballpark estimate, but how do you know you aren’t one of the really bad estimates that the system will spit out? The answer is you don’t know.
Here’s where I beat the drum for getting a good Realtor (such as myself, for example).
I know that the old mattress leaning up against the neighbor’s garage is going to affect the price you get for your home. I know that in a certain neighborhood that homes that don’t back to the apartment complex are going to sell for a lot more than the homes that do back to the apartment complex.
I personally know of two homes sitting nearly side by side, separated only by a vacant lot. Yet one will sell for more than the other…they were even built at the same time with similar floor plans. Maybe we’re only talking $8000 more, but $8000 is a lot of money, right?
So, you can use Trulia and Zillow to kind of get an idea…a sometimes very broad idea. But if you need to get the best price for a home…as a buyer or seller…enlist the aid of a good Realtor.
*Here’s the work:
There was no specific methodology for picking certain homes, except that they all closed within the past 10 days of this writing.
751 Gilda, sold for $80,000. Zillow value: $101,000 (+21%). Trulia value: $92,000 (+13%).
232 Marshside Dr., sold for $435,000. Zillow value: $474,000 (+8%). Trulia, no value given.
5169 Medoras, sold for $240,000. Zillow value: $251,000 (+4%). Trulia value: $170,000 (-29%).
417 Chamberlain, sold for $159,000. Zilllow value: $146,000 (-8%). Trulia value: $155,000 (-3%).
518 Gentian, sold for $215,000. Zillow value: $216,000 (even). Trulia value: $171,000 (-20%).
107 Dolphin Dr., sold for $270,000. Zillow value: $255,000 (+6%). Trulia value: $205,000 (-24%).
16 Sandpiper, sold for $310,000. Zillow value: $274,000 (-12%). Trulia value: $273,000 (-12%).
Image of dartboard by Melissa Gray.