I’ll give you three guesses what Zillow, Realtor.com and Trulia are ACTUALLY in business to do.
Hint: it is not to help you buy a house.
First, let’s consider what they CAN’T do.
1) These companies are not brokerages. They can’t represent your interests in the state of Arizona.
2) They call them “zestimates” because they can’t call them “estimates”. I, as an agent, can’t even call my comparable analysis an estimate. Only an appraiser can make a full “estimate” of the value of your home. I can estimate where the market is and what I think your home will sell for. Yes, there is a difference.
Why? Because appraisers go to school and have very specific rules to follow to estimate the value of a home. Plus, they do the work for a lender in most cases. So, they answer to them.
3) Zestimates, and other features like that on other sites, are known to be inaccurate. The comparable analysis I do is much better. Why?
First, because they don’t have access to the range of data that I do through the MLS, so they rely on much-outdated information from the assessor’s office, sprinkled with some proprietary fairy dust.
Second, their “zestimate” algorithms think all houses are the same. Well, a historic home in CenPho is not the same as a newly-built home in Gilbert. In fact, many homes in historic over-lay districts don’t even compare to homes 500 meters away, which are not in historic overlay districts. These companies don’t account for that.
So, what CAN they do?
Simple, they can attract you to their sites with bells and whistles so that you will see the names of realtors who pay a ton of money to capture you as a lead. Sometimes these realtors do not specialize in your area, such as historic or CenPho.
In other words, you are the commodity in this picture. They are buying and selling YOU, not representing your interests.
I can’t tell you how often I get calls from these companies trying to get me to pay them for leads. I won’t do it because I don’t think they are giving you the whole picture.
You also might find it interesting that 99% of the data and images that you see on those sites originates from our MLS. Yep, the realtors sell the data to these sites. Then these sites strip out a bunch of really important information. You are always better off getting the data directly from the MLS account of a licensed realtor (like me).
If you need help buying or selling a home, please contact me at 602-456-9388 or email@example.com.