Well, just to be awkward – Yes and No…
For those that haven’t used Zillow before. Zillow is an online portal where you can search for properties in the USA and find details for it such as; if it’s on the open market, it’s price, previous selling price, size, taxable values and sometimes pictures and maps of it’s location.
Zillow gathers it’s data automatically from various places and collates them into one single page. On the face of it this is a fantastic tool when researching a particular deal or area. The problem is, that the data if very often inaccurate, out-of-date, or corrupted.
Take previous sales prices for example. In the USA, recorded sales prices often don’t take into account the true sales value because taxes, or other liens are often settled outside of the transaction and can quite often run into the thousands. The same can be said about a property’s’ list price. Using Zillow, an online researcher will likely find that the list price does not take into account liens and other conditions or restrictions on the property.
In many market in the USA the number of foreclosures in any given area make it very difficult to assess the true market value of a property. Zillow can only take into account an average price of homes in the area, and does not use any algorithms to assess whether the property is a bank foreclosure, it’s size compared to other properties, it’s condition and many other factors that we would use to determine it’s value.
But it’s not all bad news….
So are we saying we should discount Zillow altogether? Not at all. Zillow gives you a base to start from. Type is any US address and you’ll find some useful information on any property. Using the maps, you can zoom in and see the street views – this is a fantastic tool. You can often find the number of rooms, square footage, garden (lot) size, and other features about the property and compare it to other listings as well.
Our advice….Use Zillow, but understand it’s limits.