Riverside Realtor Blog - Alma Dizon

Alma shares her experiences and observations as a Realtor in Riverside California.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Zillow.com: A Quick Review

A couple of months ago, a friend of ours told us that Zillow.com had told her that her family’s home was worth about 580k. I was surprised as I knew their home and the neighborhood, and I would have ballparked it at 620k. My husband tried running our own home, and he got a value that was about 60k under what I would have thought. That’s when I knew I had to try out the site.

The first of my closed listings that I ran on Zillow.com was so close, it almost scared me. It was within $50 of what my sellers netted after paying for the buyer’s closing costs of 10k. The property appraised easily at the total amount, making the Zillow.com estimate very reasonable.

However, I then ran another of my closed listings, and the Zillow.com estimate was about 60k under what it appraised and sold for. Curious, I checked the comps and discovered that they were mostly from about 6 to 7 months before. Last year, there was an overall increase in residential property values of 30% in the Inland Empire, and the time factor for figuring value was and is vital. The comparables were generally within a couple hundred square feet and located nearby, but none were from within the last 60 days, so the values were really off. An appraiser would prefer to use more recent sales and add or subtract for differences between the subject property and the comparables.

What is amazing about Zillow.com site is how fast it comes up with an aerial view of the area even with an incomplete address. The photo of one my listings was so clear that I could see the play house in the backyard and the sod (which was only put in a few months ago).

I went ahead and doublechecked the MLS for comps for our friend’s home and found that there were 2 closed sales since 3/1/06 at about 557k and 687k. There’s one pending sale just 2 blocks from them at 579k. Her house is just a couple of years older than both of the solds, and while she doesn’t have granite counters or hardwood floors, her property has additional amenities such as a covered patio, a spa, and a pool with a waterfall. The lot is as large as that of the higher-priced house. If I wanted just to use the average of the 2 solds, neither of which has a pool, I’d come up with 622k, which isn’t too far off from my original guesstimate. So if she really wanted to sell, I’d recommend some extra weeding, decluttering, and deep cleaning. Then I’d price it at 630k with a 6-month listing, 6% overall commission, and lots of advertising.

Zillow.com has a lot going for it, and if it satisfies the curious, that’s fine by me because it’ll keep more people from asking me for CMA’s. Not that I mind finding comps for the curious as I’m rather addicted to doing them.

To check out Zillow.com yourself, go to:


  • At 6/09/2006 10:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I recently interviewed Lloyd Frink about the accuracy of their data. You can read the interview here: http://www.npost.com/interview.jsp?intID=INT00149.


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