Zestimate®. It has “estimate” right in its name and yet it can be very problematic for both buyers and sellers alike. Sellers are frustrated when the selling price located right above the Zestimate® appears to be overpriced and hurts their cause. On the other hand, sellers often sit down with me at a listing appointment and have unreasonable expectations for what they can realize in the sale of their home because the Zestimate® is too high. Buyers are disappointed when they realize the home they just fell in love with online, is not going to be purchased for the Zestimate® price. Zillow® has in fact, offered a prize to anyone who can rewrite their program to become more accurate. They have also been sued for conducting appraisals without a license.
There are several reasons this “one size fits all” product is not always accurate. Sure, they have complicated algorithms that look at square footage, bedrooms and zip codes but there are too many other elements that cannot be factored into determining value. My home for example, is on Johns Island in a small neighborhood with 15 homes built in 2005-2006. Zillow® will aggregate my home with the mobile homes nearby and a horse farm down the road to determine the value. Just because these homes are nearby, does not mean they are comparable. Even if you can narrow down to similar homes in a large subdivision, often times there are phases in those subdivisions that can account for differences in quality and materials.
In Charleston, views greatly affect the home’s value. The differences between marshfront, marshview, waterview, riverview, oceanview, and oceanfront are unique and sometimes subtle. Likewise, my Johns Island home faces the other homes that are similar in quality to mine, but five of the homes in our subdivision face across the street from the mobile homes. That type of view can also affect value.
Perhaps the most important reason to use a qualified Realtor® is to assess condition. Zillow® cannot see inside your home to see your upgraded kitchen and beautiful tiled bath. Likewise, it cannot see into your neighbor’s house to see that baseboards are missing, door handles are broken, and windows have not been maintained. A home with lots of dated wallpaper and worn finishes is treated the same as a newer and more updated one. My neighbor’s property has beautiful, big Live Oaks and mine does not. Even a qualified appraiser might have trouble assessing the inherent value of the trees. There are also many things only someone who knows the area and is informed about the community can bring to the table as well. Did that neighborhood experience flooding during the recent hurricane, is there a new school being built nearby, or even what new zoning might be coming from the local municipality. A good real estate agent stays up to date on local news and events. In addition, an experienced agent will know what questions to ask homeowners such as traffic patterns, proximity to local businesses and if high tide ever makes travel problematic.
Condition of the exterior, interior and neighborhood all influence value. As an experienced Realtor®, I can also tell you that Zillow® will not be able to determine if the home you just loved on line smells like cat pee in person!
Call me and I will come to your home to conduct a free Comparative Market Report to find out what your home might be worth.