I reluctantly have to admit that Zillow really does have impressive algorithms, that sometimes yield surprisingly accurate results.

BUT, Zillow also often badly misleads homeowners, creating huge issues for lenders and agents alike.

A few years ago, a friend of mine was irate when his appraisal came in $75,000 lower than Zillow’s “Zestimate.”

But Zillow was correlating to a nearby “model match” with stunning mountain views and a location at the end of a court that was a 24/7-whiffle-ball-basketball-roller-hockey-playground-paradise.

My friend was on a busy through street and the only view he had was of his neighbor’s fence.

Our Appraisal Manager recently shared two excellent columns that illuminate problems with Zillow.

The first was a New York Times article titled “Why Zillow Addicts Can’t Look Away.”

The article discusses homeowners who obsess over their Zillow Zestimate and how this obsession is especially a problem for sellers, and therefore listing agents, when Zestimates differ from market value.

Even better is Ryan Lundquist’s recent blog titled “Is the Public Trusting Zillow Too Much?

Ryan uses the recent history of a single property to make his point. On July 14th, influenced by Zillow’s bloated Zestimate of $380,000, the property listed over market value for $380,000.

Shortly thereafter the price was reduced to $335,000 and the Zestimate dropped to $346,000, implying that Zillow correlates heavily to list price.

The property then quickly sold for $350,000, but the Zestimate then fell to $328,000. A month after the sale, the Zestimate fell to $302,000.

Ryan went on to point out how the market had not dropped that much overall, how homeowners trust Zillow way too much, and how they need to trust real estate professionals instead.

(His blog is excellent, and I highly recommend reading it in full.)


If you’re a listing agent with a client who is clinging to a Zestimate that greatly exceeds market value, our Appraisal Manager would be more than happy to provide additional data or commentary to help explain reality :)

Our Appraisal Manager in fact makes it a point to not look at online value estimates b/c they mislead so much and so often, even if you’re a seasoned professional.

Jay Voorhees
Founder/Broker | JVM Lending
(925) 855-4491 | DRE# 01524255, NMLS# 335646

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