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Is a Realtor More Accurate Than Zillow?

Your home is one of your biggest investments. Knowing its proper value - whether you are investing, considering selling or just want to know - is an important first step to planning. We can be tempted to do a quick Zillow search to see what price we are looking at, but should we pause to ask if a Realtor is more accurate than Zillow and if so, why?

Zillow Should Be Used As A Starting Point


Zillow’s Zestimate is not meant to take the place of an appraisal or a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) In fact, Zillow’s website says:


It should be used as a starting point. We encourage buyers, sellers, and homeowners to supplement the Zestimate with other research such as visiting the home, getting a professional appraisal of the home, or requesting a comparative market analysis (CMA) from a Real Estate Agent.”


Another important factor is that automatic valuations, such as a Zillow Zestimate, are not used by banks or lenders to estimate a property’s value for a mortgage. Only an appraisal from a licensed appraiser can be used for a mortgage.


Why do Realtors not like Zillow?


We do understand the draw to visit national portal sites like Zillow, Trulia & Realtor.com. They are popular with consumers and easily found when you throw out a quick google search. But ask a Realtor why they don’t like Zillow and you’ll soon understand the difference.


Many Real Estate agents don’t like Zillow because often people accept the Zestimate at face value. They don’t consider that it’s not created to be an official appraisal nor should it be used as a replacement for a professional CMA (Comparative Market Analysis).


In other words, the Zestimate can often be inaccurate and doesn’t account for critical factors that affect home value. If you really can’t resist the Zestimate, we recommend you use it only as a starting point.

How accurate is Zillow Zestimate?


What you need to understand that Zillow, Redfin, Trulia, Realtor.com... all share one huge common issue. These portal sites are what are known as "syndicated sites." This means that they do not receive a direct feed from the local MLS boards for listings. The listing data is syndicated to portal sites. Whereas, local Realtor sites receive direct MLS access and updates.

Zillow Zestimates, Realtor.com estimates, and even Redfin Estimates can be very different from each other. They all use different methods to value properties. And each of these websites has a disclaimer that their valuations should only be used as a starting point and should be followed up with a CMA by a licensed Realtor or an appraisal by a licensed appraiser.

What does it mean for a Realtor to be more accurate than Zillow?

The biggest complaint we hear (over and over again) is that the national portal sites have outdated information. Meaning, sometimes consumers will be searching a portal site like Zillow, find a home for sale they like, only to find out that the home was put under contract days ago. Yet, the information displayed on the portal site is inaccurate and may still show the home being offered for sale. So why is this the case?

Think of it from a logistical standpoint. Let’s say the national portal sites try to update every listing, in every market, in the United States (and have recently moved into other parts of the world like Canada). Can you imagine the resources it would take to update every listing in every market every 15 minutes? It would be near impossible. In fact, we think it is impossible. This is why large portal sites have data lags and can sometimes be very frustrating for consumers.

With a direct MLS feed, local Realtor websites receive fresh content and updates every 15 minutes. So, for instance, let's say a home was marked "under contract" in the MLS five minutes ago, the newest refresh of local Realtor sites will show the "under contract" status within 15 to 30 minutes (depending upon the cycle of the latest data update).

So to answer the question, “is a Realtor more accurate than Zillow?” - most often, yes.

My suggestion for you - find a local Realtor site you enjoy using for your home search and stay with it! You'll always get the freshest and most up-to-date data and listing information when you use a site with a direct MLS feed. We would love to provide you with a custom Comparative Market Analysis of your home, taking into account important factors such as location, property size and features, physical condition, special features, and updates.

We would be happy to show you data for comparable homes in yours and surrounding neighborhoods and towns. Take a moment to reach out here or message us over onFacebook or Instagram with any questions!

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