A Zestimate is, as defined by Zillow* and pronounced ZEST-ti-met (rhymes with estimate), Zillow’s estimated market value, computed using a proprietary formula. Zillow goes on to say “It is not an appraisal. It is a starting point in determining a home’s value. The Zestimate is calculated from public and user submitted data.”
The fundamental problem is that for a lot of the population, it’s not only the starting point, it’s the end point of their research about a home’s value because all too often we see the internet as the end-all-be-all, gospel truth about a topic. Okay, I’m probably exaggerating. And, I’m guilty, too. Most of the time, we’re just in a hurry because we have a lot of other stuff to do. Here’s the really painful part … trusting & believing in that number can cost you A LOT of money. How much money, you might ask? How about $16,278.68? Roughly speaking, of course. (Based on Zillow’s cited margin of error on 8/29/12 of 8.6% for Collin County where the median sale price YTD is $189,287.) How much of that other stuff is worth $16,278.68? Probably none of it. So what makes me shudder is that people take Zillow’s word for how much their home (which is likely their single biggest asset) might or might not be worth and make life altering decisions based on that. Oh the horror! Especially when all they have to do is call me, text me, email me, Facebook me, or send a freaking carrier pigeon and I, a qualified professional, will do the hard and accurate work for them.
Folks, we can and do trust the internet to provide us an incredible amount of reliable information everyday. And sometimes the reliability of that information is suspect and requires the eyes of a real person … a real & qualified professional … to ensure you’re making the best decisions possible for you and your family.