Can I rely on a computer to appraise the market value of my real estate in Fairfax County?
Zillow is a popular website that provides automated estimates which purport to calculate the market value of each residence in the United States. Zillow tries to achieve this this task by using a complicated program that compares factors which impact real estate values, but here's a typical story I have heard from home sellers in Northern Virginia:
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 find many testimonials by upset homeowners and skeptical real estate purchasers who have discovered the hard way just out inaccurate Zillow's pricing can be. Many people in Fairfax County say that Zillow's estimates have a margin of error of about 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 real estate shoppers. Real estate sellers and home purchasers should understand that there is not a single neighborhood in Fairfax County where either a bank or tax collector uses Internet for tax assessment or appraisals. Our expert advice is to take estimates from any computer with a grain of salt. Putting too much reliance into a website can cause a lot of irration.
Email one of our agents today for a free comparative market analysis of your property's worth. We promise that a website won't set the sales value. Instead, your friendly neighborhood Nesbitt Realty expert will measure the complicated variables which make up your real estate's sales value.
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