Zillow Fight!

I’m trying to keep an open mind about the new home value estimator, Zillow.Com, but I’m yet to be impressed.

My friend, Erin, e-mailed me this morning and said she loved Zillow, but found some of the square footage data incorrect. It wasn’t adding first and second floor square footage. I entered addresses for several homes that I had the Cook County Assessor’s square footage for and found them all to be correct, so I’m guessing it may have been bad data in the Zillow database for the Florida homes she was looking at.

I did find problems with some other details. For one home the number of bathrooms was off by a half. The home has had the same number of bathrooms since it was built, so I’m thinking this is bad data again.

I checked the details for another home that I used in my market analysis as a comparable sale for the above home and it had the correct number of bathrooms, but Zillow estimated its current value at $10K less than what the home sold for last August. When I looked at Zillow’s historical values for the home, it showed a value last August of $20K less than what the home sold for! Excuse me, but isn’t what someone actually paid for a home a better indicator of its value, than what a computer model generates? A home is worth what someone is willing to pay for it.

It will be interesting to see how the arrival of Zillow affects home buying and selling. If its “zestimate” is lower for a home than a seller thinks it should be, it will help those of us real estate agents who don’t just tell sellers what they want to hear to get the listing. If its “zestimate” is higher for a home than what a market analysis shows, you can be certain the seller will insist on listing at the higher price. Home buyers will likewise use a “zestimate”, if it supports a lower price. There could be a lot of Zillow fights!


Fran Bailey Fran Bailey is a Realtor who has been quoted in numerous Chicago and national publications. To schedule showings for any listings, get a free market analysis for your home or to contact Fran email her at fran.bailey@bairdwarner.com or call 773-793-4516. Learn More