Can I trust Zillow estimates?

Can I trust some Internet company to figure out the market value of my property in Northern Virginia?

Zillow is a popular website that provides "z-estimates" that claim to figure the sales value of each and every residence in the United States. Zillow tries to accomplish this task by using a sophisticated logarithm which compares factors which alter property values, but here's a story I have heard from real estate sellers in Northern Virginia:

Is Zillow accurate?
Many consumers have serious doubts about the accuracy of Zillow home value estimates.

Our home was recently appraised for 650K. Zillow estimates the value at 521K. The estimate makes us one of the lowest priced homes in the subdivision. We have all upgrades in our home and it is the largest of the homes that were originally built in this subdivision. It was appraised at 750K before 2009. Our home has a basement. Neighbors do not have basement on one side and you appraised higher. Really? -- James E. - Fort Hunt

If you Google the web for the phrase "Can I trust Zillow?" or "Can I trust Z-Estimates" you'll discover countless testimonials by angry property owners and leery home purchasers who have discovered the hard way just out inaccurate Zillow's pricing can be. Many people in Northern Virginia claim that Zillow's valuations have a margin of error of around 20%. Even if we assume the margin of error is only 10%, in Northern Virginia that means a "z-estimate" is only within $50,000 of the actual sales value. If the margin of error is an improbable 5% that means that a z-estimate is only within $25,000 of the asking price.

Yet Zillow (for now) remains popular with some buyers and sellers. Real estate sellers and real estate purchasers should understand that there is not a single community in Northern Virginia where either a bank or tax collector uses Zillow for tax assessment or appraisals. Our professional advice is to take estimates from any online site with a grain of salt. Putting too much reliance into a computer can cause a lot of irration.

Connect with one of our agents today for a free comparative market analysis of your property's worth. We promise that a computer won't set the value. Instead, your friendly neighborhood Nesbitt Realty real estate agent will take into account the complicated variables which make up your home's ideal price.

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7 Reasons Why Zillow Estimates Are Inaccurate

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