Maureen Megowan's Blog

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Zillow.com is a fraud

There is no denying the explosive growth in the use of Zillow.com by both buyers and sellers of real estate to estimate the market value of homes in their community

The problem is that Zillow.com completely ignores the fact that you simply can not estimate a property´s market value given the limited public information available, such as the age of the home, location, number of bedrooms or bathrooms, or square footage. Many factors such as whether it has been remodeled, the desirability of the floor plan, proximity to schools, street appeal, etc. have a huge impact on market value. Only an experienced real estate agent or appraiser, taking all factors into consideration, can provide a property owner with an accurate estimate of a property´s value. I have seen many instances where Zillow.com´s valuations are 50% or more inaccurate, with many of their valuations appearing to be almost random. Zillow.com has not ever set foot in any of the property's they are providing an estimate of value, so how can they possibly represent that they have any idea what the property is worth?

For instance, Zillow.com values the home across the street from me at a price approx. 40% less than my home, although it has approx. 22% less square footage, one less bedroom, a less desirable floor plan, a smaller yard, and no ocean view, which my home has, and although recently remodeled, my home has also been remodeled with a much larger new kitchen.  Zillow.com also has another home across the street from mine at a valuation at least 40% lower than its true market value, because zillow.com completely ignores the fact that it was recently completely remodeled inside and enlarged.

The business model of zillow.com simply can not provide accurate market value information, as the public information which it uses tends to lag the market, and most importantly, they are completely ignorant as to the unique qualities and details of each home that it appraises. Has it been remodeled?  Does the floorplan work well? Are the bedrooms too small? Are the bathrooms and kitchen well designed?  How large is the backyard and is it nicely landscaped?  Does the house enjoy good curb appeal and attractive and well maintained landscaping? How well maintained is the home, and does it have any issues such as mold, old roof, or other deferred maintenance?  All of these factors are important to evaluate in determining a property´s market value, and zillow.com simply can not do so.  Only an experience real estate agent or appraiser, taking into consideration all of a property´s unique characteristics can help a client estimate a property´s true market value.

I have actually been contacted by people who have used the listing information on my website and compared it to the valuations used by zillow.com to try and estimate whether a property is over or undervalued compared to its listing price. This is like playing russian roulette with a fully loaded pistol.

When I am working with a buyer or seller, I provide my clients with a Comparative Market Analysis that includes only those homes which through my years of experience I believe are directly comparable to the subject property I am evaluating, taking into consideration all of the factors affecting a property's market value. Many of the property's included in the Comparative Market Analysis I have personally visited while they were on the market, and I am able to truly evaluate all of the unique characteristics of each of the properties in order to come to a reasoned estimate of value of the subject property.

Anyone using zillow.com as fact, may as well be using a Ouija board. Another good web blog that discusses this issue about how Zillow.com is a fraud is http://www.bloodhoundrealty.com/BloodhoundBlog/?p=134

To read more about this issue, visit my website at http://www.maureenmegowan.com/Nav.aspx/Page=%2fPageManager%2fDefault.aspx%2fPageID%3d2000262

For more information about buying or selling a home, please visit my award winning website http://www.maureenmegowan.com

For more information about Palos Verdes and South Bay Real Estate and buying and selling a home on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, visit my website at http://www.maureenmegowan.com . I try to make this the best real estate web blog in the South Bay Los Angeles and the Palos Verdes Peninsula. I would love to hear your comments or suggestions.

Comment balloon 1 commentMaureen Megowan • October 02 2008 02:52PM
Zillow. com is a fraud
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