Why Not to Trust Zillow for Your Home’s Value?

It’s important to approach online real estate information with skepticism and not blindly trust everything you see, especially when it comes to Zillow. Here are a few reasons why:
  • Incorrect information: Zillow’s data is often outdated and inaccurate, with incorrect home values and inconsistent information on home features and details. As a result, buyers may waste time and resources pursuing properties that are not available or that don’t meet their needs.
  • Revenue source: Zillow’s business model relies on advertising and selling leads to real estate agents, with almost half of their revenue coming directly from agents who purchase leads from them. This direct financial incentive can lead to a conflict of interest, where Zillow prioritizes its profit over accurate and up-to-date information for buyers.
  • Contract status: Zillow does not always disclose when a property is under contract, as it benefits their revenue to keep buyers calling agents for properties that are already off the market. This can lead to frustration and wasted time for buyers who are seeking accurate and current information on available properties.
  • Overall, while Zillow can be a useful tool for some preliminary research, it should not be relied on as the definitive source for accurate and up-to-date information on real estate properties. Working with a knowledgeable and trustworthy real estate agent with access to the most current and reliable information can help ensure that buyers find the right property for their needs and budget.

    The Problem with Zillow’s Information Accuracy

    When it comes to real estate, many people turn to Zillow, the popular website that provides home value estimates, property listings, and other pertinent information related to buying or selling a home. However, Zillow has come under scrutiny for its accuracy in providing information. In fact, a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that Zillow’s home value estimates were off by an average of 8% when compared to the actual sale price. This is a significant discrepancy that should cause buyers and sellers alike to take pause before relying solely on Zillow’s information.
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    Inaccurate Property Statuses on Zillow

    It’s not just the home value estimates that are inaccurate on Zillow. Property statuses also tend to be incorrect, which can cause confusion for both buyers and sellers. For example, a property may appear as For Sale on Zillow when it’s actually already under contract. This can lead to frustrated buyers who waste time trying to schedule a showing or make an offer on a property that’s not even available. Additionally, sellers may be inundated with calls and inquiries about a property that’s already been spoken for. It’s important to remember that Zillow is simply a website, and information can be outdated or incorrect. Always consult with a licensed real estate agent for the most up-to-date and accurate information.

    Zillow’s Profit Model: Agents and Lead Purchasing

    Zillow is a multi-billion dollar company, and a significant portion of its revenue comes directly from agents purchasing leads from the website. This means that Zillow makes money by selling leads to agents who are looking for potential clients. While this may not be inherently problematic, it does have implications for buyers and sellers. When an agent contacts you after finding your information on Zillow, they may not necessarily be the best fit for your needs. Their primary motivation is not to help you find your dream home or get the best possible price for your property. Rather, their goal is to make a sale and turn a profit.

    Zillow’s Revenue Structure and Dependence

    Zillow’s dependence on agent leads means that the website is ultimately beholden to the agents who purchase them. This can lead to a conflict of interest, where Zillow may be more interested in selling leads than providing accurate information to buyers and sellers. Additionally, Zillow’s revenue structure is dependent on the real estate market remaining hot. If the market were to experience a downturn, Zillow’s profits would likely suffer.
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    Zillow’s Deceptive Marketing Tactics to Buyers

    Zillow has also come under fire for its deceptive marketing tactics to buyers. For example, the website encourages buyers to make Zillow Offers, where they can buy a home directly through Zillow. While this may sound like a convenient option, it’s important to read the fine print. Zillow’s offers come with service fees that can be as high as 12%, and their home value estimates may not be accurate. In other words, buyers may end up overpaying for a property that’s not even worth the amount they’re paying. If you’re considering buying a home through Zillow, be sure to consult with a licensed real estate agent and do your due diligence to ensure that you’re getting a fair deal.

    How Zillow’s Model Affects Home Buyers and Sellers

    Zillow’s profit-driven model and inaccurate information can have serious implications for home buyers and sellers. Buyers may end up overpaying for a property, while sellers may be inundated with calls from agents looking to purchase leads. Additionally, the reliance on steep service fees may deter potential buyers from making a purchase altogether.
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    It’s important to approach Zillow with caution, and to seek out other resources for accurate property information and personalized real estate advice.

    Alternative Real Estate Resources to Consider

    There are alternative real estate resources available that can help buyers, sellers, and agents navigate the real estate market without relying on Zillow’s profit-driven model. These include:
    • Redfin: A real estate brokerage that goes beyond just listing homes for sale. They offer virtual tours, 3D walkthroughs, and a team of licensed agents who are available to help buyers and sellers.
    • Zillow-owned Trulia: While Trulia is owned by Zillow, it does not rely on agent lead purchases for revenue. Instead, it generates revenue through advertising and subscription fees from agents and brokers.
    • Local real estate agents: These agents are intimately familiar with the housing market in your area, and can provide personalized guidance and advice that cannot be found on a website.
    Remember, when it comes to real estate information, accuracy is key. Always consult with a licensed real estate agent and approach online resources with caution.

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