“Zillow told me that my home is worth…”
Appraisers across the USA hear those words at least once a week from well-meaning homeowners. What many homeowners don’t realize is that Zillow, while a very useful tool, is not always the best indicator of the actual value of their home. A Zillow Zestimate is not an appraisal. In fact, if homeowners use Zillow to help them price their home for sale, they could be leaving thousands of dollars on the table, as we will show you.
Below is a chart of 18 randomly selected appraisals that The Coyle Group completed in the past 3 months. The houses are located throughout Philadelphia, Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware and Chester County. The chart is a comparison of our appraised value and the Zestimates produced by Zillow. Keep in mind that our appraisals have the benefit of a full property inspection by a human being and nuanced market knowledge. Zillow’s Zestimates rely on public records, complex algorithms and no physical inspection of the property. Here are the results:
|Maple Glen Colonial||Appraisal: $430,000||Zillow: $351,050||
|Conshohocken Single||Appraisal: $370,000||Zillow: $329,924||
|Collegeville Cape Cod||Appraisal: $364,000||Zillow: $355,012||
|Bryn Mawr Mansion||Appraisal: $2,000,000||Zillow: $1,662,317||
|Lafayette Hill Colonial||Appraisal: $550,000||Zillow: $470,806||
|Chestnut Hill Colonial||Appraisal: $635,000||Zillow: $686,018||
|Gladwyne Cape Cod||Appraisal: $745,000||Zillow: $697,428||
|Condo – The Murano||Appraisal: $575,000||Zillow: $458,870||
|Art Museum Condo||Appraisal: $280,000||Zillow: $257,852||
|Condo – The Dorchester||Appraisal: $345,000||Zillow: $339,499||
|South Philly Row||Appraisal: $110,000||Zillow: $157,378||
|Berwyn Colonial 1||Appraisal: $750,000||Zillow: $886,168||
|Berwyn Colonial 2||Appraisal: $1,200,000||Zillow: $1,153,633||
|Doylestown Townhouse||Appraisal: $325,000||Zillow: $294,410||
|Fishtown Row||Appraisal: $225,000||Zillow: $211,700||
|Villanova Mansion||Appraisal: $2,450,000||Zillow: $2,544,935||
|Mount Airy Twin||Appraisal: $285,000||Zillow: $324,137||
|Roxborough Row||Appraisal: $245,000||Zillow: $235,076||
As you can see there are some pretty dramatic deviations between Zestimates and the appraisals. Based on our appraised values Zillow under valued 13 of the properties. In some instances Zillow was almost right on, take for instance the condo in The Dorchester. They were only off by 1.62%…that’s pretty good if you ask me. For the condo at The Murano, they were off by more than 25%…waaaay off! On average, Zillow under-valued the properties by 12.39%.
In the case of the South Philly row, the Zestimate was over by more than 30%. However, I can’t fault Zillow on this one. The property was really dated and needed a great deal of work. But this does illustrate how having a full interior inspection of a property can lead to more accurate values. Also, the Mount Airy twin was over-valued by 12%…but this doesn’t surprise me, everyone in Mount Airy thinks their home is worth more than it is. Just kidding.
Now imagine that you’re a homeowner getting ready to sell. You hop on your computer, plug-in your address and Zillow says your home is worth $300,000. Based on our findings, if Zillow under-values properties 12.39% on average, you (the homeowner) could potentially be leaving $37,170 on the table. That’s serious money!
This illustration underscores the importance of consulting with a knowledgeable real estate agent or Certified Real Estate Appraiser. Getting a Pre-Listing Appraisal prior to putting your home up for sale and knowing the true market value of your home can save you time, money and effort when it comes to selling.
As for Zillow, keep in mind that it is a tool…a starting point. It’s great for neighborhood data, graphs, general sales information or for seeing what your new neighbors paid for their house. It’s probably not the best place if you’re looking for assistance with making definitive decision or properly pricing your home for sale.