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The Washington Post reported that all but ten percent of today’s real estate searches are conducted online. Given that online real estate searches are the main way buyers are finding homes in La Jolla and across the nation, it’s vital that online listings are accurate, but that’s not the case with all real estate information sites.
With millions of users every month, Zillow is the largest and most widely known real estate information site, but name recognition doesn’t denote regularly updated and accurate information. Buyers have devoted time and resources to researching properties on Zillow only to find out that the homes they were interested in were no longer on the market.
Estimated home values are another area that Zillow has yet to perfect. In fact, the site’s estimated home values have led to pricing problems homes between buyers and sellers.
Last year, The Washington Post reported that Zillow’s estimated home value was within 5 percent of the home’s actual market value half the time. In March of 2014, research showed that Zillow’s estimated market value was too low twice as often as it was too high.
Homes valued over $1 million dollars posed the greatest stumbling block for Zillow. When faced with homes valued over $1 million, Zillow’s estimate was within 5 percent of the actual home value less than 50 percent of the time.
In February, the Los Angeles Times reported that Zillow’s home value estimates had a median error rate of 8 percent nationwide, which is corroborated by the site itself. An overall median error rate of 8 cents on the dollar is significant when working with something as valuable as La Jolla real estate.
In addition to this, the Los Angeles Times stated that local error rates were higher than nationwide error rates. Zillow’s CEO, Spencer Rascoff, recommended that buyers approach the site’s home value estimates in the following manner, “look at them as no more than starting points in price discussions with the real authorities on local real estate values—experienced agents and appraisers.” The site itself also cautions that its estimates should not be used when pricing a home.
So if Zillow isn’t perfect, is there a more dependable online real estate research option?
Local real estate agencies, including DeSouza Select Properties, have real estate search tools on their websites that provide timely and accurate information. Local real estate websites are often more accurate than larger sites and the local MLS because they are closely monitored and frequently updated.
Professional realtors evaluate important factors to determine the current value of La Jolla homes that are simply not accessible to large sites like Zillow, but are crucial to determining each property’s true market value. This makes them in the words of Zillow’s CEO, “the real authorities on local real estate values.”