My Favorite Real Estate Tool: Zillow.com

Posted on 30. Jun, 2006 by in Real Estate

zillowlogo.jpgI was talking with a friend yesterday discussing the value of his home compared to a few others in the neighborhood and I mentioned that Zillow.com was a great resource for just that purpose. I searched through the archives here and realized I’ve never talked about it before!

Zillow.com is a combination of publicly-available housing information and Google Maps. The site, which is currently in beta, claims to have over 65 million homes indexed. Although I can’t vouch for all 65 million homes, I have used the site to research real estate in several different states and have always found the home or neighborhood I was looking for.

The site is very clean, bright, and uncomplicated. The first screen simply has a text box for entering in the address you’re searching for. After entering a street address or neighborhood you’re presented with a satellite map of the area with boxes outlining the different properties. You can zoom in and out just like any other mapping program while viewing the maps in a street-only, satellite, or hybrid view.

The prices of each home hovers above the property, but by clicking on each house you can quickly see the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and the square footage. You can also click to see the home’s details or view other comparable homes.

The detailed view is my favorite part of Zillow. But again, the information is presented in a very clean and user-friendly way. From the detailed view you can see:

  • Home facts – including # stories, lot size, year built, heating and AC details, etc.)
  • Zestimate rating – a quick statistic on how many homes have a higher or lower value than this one
  • Recently sold comparable homes – including this home’s $ per sq. ft. and the comparable average
  • 1 week change in price
    zillowgraph.jpg

  • Value change graph – my favorite feature is the ability to see graphically how the value of the home has changed over the past 1, 5, or 10 years
  • Sale history
  • Latest property tax information including the value of the assessed value of the building and land

As you can see, Zillow.com is full of features that are invaluable to anyone! Those looking to buy a home can compare prices with neighboring homes. Home sellers can get help trying to place a value on their own home. And owners can track their most valuable asset. Be sure to also check out their “How-to” section which includes a list of links to how to get the most out of the site. But I must warn you… Zillow is addicting!

4 Responses to “My Favorite Real Estate Tool: Zillow.com”

  1. LAMoneyGuy

    30. Jun, 2006

    I’m also a fan of zillow, but take their results with a grain of salt. Whenever I am looking at properties for sale, I will take a look at zillow to see their zestimate, the comps and the sales data. Some properties list above the zestimate, so it is logical that they don’t sell. They’re overpriced. Many properties are listed below their zestimate. There is a house in my neighborhood that has been on the market for at least four months, listed below zestimate, yet there it sits. If the zestimate were true market value, surely someone would have made a reasonable offer.

  2. Ron

    30. Jun, 2006

    I have commented in the past that Zillow is a great tool for real estate ‘voyeurs’. I love the Web 2.0 features and the snazzy interface. As for the accuracy, the more homogeneous the neighborhood, the closer to target the Zestimates seem to be.

    However, as someone close to the Portland, Oregon market (disclosure: I am a real estate broker), I caution homeowners that Zillow relies heavily on tax records for its comparative values, which might not take into effect a recent remodel, adding significant square footage to the home, nor does it provide the subjective value of home condition. On occasion, the algorithm that allows a homeowner to adjust the model to incorporate an additional bedroom or square feet, has actually decreased the home value. I’m sure the statistical models will improve over time.

    Zillow is s a nice starting point, but a homeowner looking to establish a grounded home value should consider a formal appraisal, or at the least, a comparative market analysis by a knowledgeable real estate broker.

  3. Jason Guthrie

    30. Jun, 2006

    I completely agree with both of you. Zillow is not the only place anyone should look for a home valuation – but I do think it’s a great place to start. If anything you can see general trends and get a ballpark of an idea.

  4. Randall Wilson

    18. Sep, 2006

    Zillow has a great service concept, but they are still lacking in correct information. Homes in my current area show a below market prices and most other areas that I evaluate with their services seem off of the mark. Their accuracy is getting better, but for the time being the comparables are still off too much to be relied on.

    RW
    4MySales.com

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