The Zestimate tool

Zillow can be polarizing at times, for my work as a Realtor.  It’s handy when my clients agree with the Zestimate, and sometimes challenging when the Zestimate is way off the mark – on the high side.  If it’s on the high side and I’m representing a Seller, doubt may creep in about my recommendations.  If it’s on the low side, a Seller may be concerned about how their property is perceived by a buyer.

I remember years ago, Zillow marketed to Realtors by saying that the inaccuracies were an opportunity to engage with prospective buyers and sellers to offer a more in-depth analysis.  That does happen sometimes.  With more and more people looking at real estate online – along with everything else – it’s easy to loose site of the fact that important decision-making factors can be left behind if a free online tool is given more weight than perhaps it should.

Where I work, San Mateo County coastal markets, the inventory is very low and the variables very high.  Inventory has been its lowest since 2005.  Variables include ocean views, ocean sounds, proximity to water, proximity to Highway 1, lot size, neighborhood, water source, and much more.

historic months of inventory coastside

Therefore, Zillow is fine as a general trends tool.  When it comes time to create a pricing strategy to either sell or buy, the principal is better served to have a local expert in place to help them make such an important decision.  Also, important to be aware that Zillow is a consumer tool who markets to real estate agents for their advertising dollars, promoting contact and site placement.