Can I trust Zillow estimates?

Can I rely on some Internet company to calculate the sales price of my real estate in Riverwood?

Zillow is a billion-dollar website that provides "z-estimates" which claim to figure the value of each residence in the United States. Zillow tries to achieve this this feat by using a sophisticated logarithm which crossreferences factors which alter property values, but here's a typical story I have heard from home 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 search the Internet 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 shoppers who have discovered the hard way just out inaccurate Zillow's pricing can be. Many people in Riverwood report that Zillow's estimates have a margin of error of approximately 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 unlikley 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. Home sellers and real estate buyers should know that there is not a single neighborhood in Riverwood where either a mortgage lender or tax collector uses Internet for tax assessment or appraisals. Our expert advice is to take "valuations" from any computer with a grain of salt. Putting too much trust into a website can cause a lot of disappointment.

Phone one of our agents today for a free comparative market analysis of your property's market value. We promise that a computer won't set the ideal price. Instead, your friendly neighborhood Nesbitt Realty Realtor will measure the complicated variables which make up your home's market value.

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7 Reasons Why Zillow Estimates Are Inaccurate

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