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The Truth About Zillow Estimates

The Truth About Zillow Estimates

So You Want to Know the Value of Your Baton Rouge Home?

Do you know how much your home is worth? No, really, do you?

Homeowners and buyers across the country often answer this question by turning to a figure known as a Zestimate, produced by Zillow.com. Zillow’s intention is to create an accurate value estimate, but many Baton Rouge home sellers and buyers are finding out that the Zestimate for a home they want to sell or buy is not reflective of the current market.

Wait, What’s a Zestimate?

A Zestimate is Zillow’s attempt to use algorithms and publicly available data points that influence housing prices to estimate a home’s value at any given time. While this is a good idea, in concept, it’s important for buyers and sellers to realize that there’s a bit more to predicting prices than the cold, hard facts.

Often, real estate becomes a very personal and emotional buy. Two houses with the same floor plan, but different shades of brick or different trees in the front yard can have different values to the person doing the buying. That’s really what matters. Ultimately, a home is only worth what the market will bear and what a buyer will give.

When Did Zillow Come Visit Your House?

Zestimates became popular because outside of an appraisal or comparative market analysis generated by an experienced Realtor, it can be really hard to judge whether your home is gaining or losing value. After all, no one wants to bet on a losing horse, even if they live inside that horse and it provides them with shelter from the elements and a place to make memories (must be a Trojan horse).

Unfortunately, the Zestimate has been responsible for a great deal of confusion since Zillow started using the original algorithm in 2006. Even though the algorithm has been upgraded several times since its inception, it’s not perfect. Unfortunately, people deeply enveloped in the stressful process that is buying a house sometimes become ultra focused on the numbers that Zestimates provide, treating them more as an absolute than a flexible guide.

Because most people don’t really know what goes into valuing a home, this issue of getting married to a valuation that’s not quite on the dot isn’t new. Even before Zillow, many homeowners believed that their home was worth so many dollars due to tax assessments that were often based on outdated information, collected during the initial construction of their home and updated based on average inflation.

Why Have a Zestimate, Then?

Zestimates aren’t the most accurate way to assess the value of a home because they aren’t able to pick up on the harder to quantify items that go into determining the value of a home. They can’t tell a freshly remodeled 1960’s ranch home from one that’s still got the original shag carpet, for example. Zillow also doesn’t have information on the surrounding conditions of the neighborhood like the neighbor’s house with 10 junk cars in the driveway.

Just because a listed house on Maple Drive has a Zestimate of $203,000 and it’s almost identical to your house next door, it doesn’t mean you won’t get more (or less) when you go to sell.

So What’s the Solution?

The best way to find the true market value of your home is to consult with a Realtor or a licensed appraiser. Often, realtors will meet with you for free to help you determine what your home will bring on the market. Touring your home gives them the opportunity to see upgrades or deferred maintenance that can affect the value. A real estate agent can also show you ways to improve the “sellability” of your home by changing some paint colors or decluttering.

While a licensed appraiser charges a fee, they also will tour the home and take measurements to determine it’s value compared to homes that have sold in the area. If your home is in a unique area or is remarkable different from the surrounding homes, an appraisal can be a great way to determine what price the home should be listed for on the market. It can also be a selling tool to potential buyers that the home has already appraised for a certain value.

How Do I Go About Getting My Home Value?

Many sellers are worried about meeting with a real estate agent that will be pushy and try to “sell” them on the idea that they need to list their home right away. I can assure you that my goal is to give you the information you want and need without any pressure tactics.

When you call me to view your Baton Rouge home and give you a personalized report, I will come take notes on any recent renovations, special amenities, and the size and condition of the home compared to recently solds in your area. Once I have all of this information, I will email or mail to you my professional assessment. Keep in mind that as realtors, we do the best we can to help sellers determine a market price- it’s buyers that ultimately determine a home’s value on the market.

To get started, complete the form below and I will contact your shortly. ~Andrea


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