You have no idea how many times a day I have to explain how sites like Zillow and Trulia work to get their information and give out estimated values on properties.
I have property owners call me, or I may run into them, and they say something like, “I was on Zillow, and it said my home was worth $300,000. I want to sell for that.”
Or, “I was on Trulia and it said the home I want to buy is worth $100,000. Let’s make an offer today.”
Both parties know the whole time the values are not accurate at all — but that’s what Zillow or Trulia had listed.
Sites like Zillow and Trulia get their information from public data that is released by a county website. They then use that information to estimate the value of a property.
Now, let’s first look at the information they might get from a county website. This could be estimated square footage, age, location and sales price. All of that is valuable information when it comes to finding the market value of a property, but it only makes up about 25 percent of the data needed to come up with an accurate market value.
Let me show you what I mean. How about age? Have you ever seen two homes that are the same age, but one has been completely remodeled with new flooring, cabinets, paint, roof, heating and air, and the other is still looking like it came straight out of the ‘70s — shag carpet and all? Both homes are the same age, but would the two homes have the same value?
Now let’s look at location. How about two homes in the same subdivision, but one is on the lake with a dock, and the other is an interior property that doesn’t even have a view of the water. They are both in the same location, but I would say not the same value.
I could go on with the comparisons, but I think you are getting the idea. There is nothing wrong with visiting these sites, but take them for what they are worth.
If you want an accurate value of your home or want to know what a home that you want to buy is worth, get the help of a local real estate professional. Get a Realtor who knows the market and can help you come up with an accurate market value for you using the local knowledge along with the other factors.
You will then have the correct information to base your decisions on. The same goes for the property you want to buy. In addition to the accurate value, there may be local information you would want to know about before purchasing. Things like new shopping centers, new roads, road closures, etc., can make a difference is what the property will be worth in a few years. A local Realtor has market knowledge to help you make the best, most well-informed decision for you and your family.
Les Walden is the broker and owner of Les Walden Real Estate in Seneca. Send any questions about the real estate process, selling or buying real estate, or the local real estate market to RealEstateQuestions@leswalden.