Real estate agents hate Zillow’s estimates of home values, called Zestimates, because many are very inaccurate but mainly because many home buyers and homes sellers will fall in love with their inaccurate Zestimates. Home sellers fall in love with high Zestimates and home buyers fall in love with low Zestimates and it adds unnecessary drama to the home buying and selling process.
Here’s how it plays out, the Zestimate on a seller’s home is WAY too high but wishful thinking kicks in and the home seller really likes that high estimate and thinks up a bunch of reasons why it might be right. An economist would say that the homeowner “anchored” on the high Zestimate price.
We real estate agents can try to show homeowners why the Zestimates for their homes are way off but they won’t usually buy it. They think we’re just trying to get them to price their houses below fair market value so they’ll be fast and easy sales for us greedy real estate agents.
This never happens to home sellers when their Zestimate is low. Home sellers immediately dismiss low Zestimates as being inaccurate but they fall in love with high Zestimates. Home buyers, on the other hand, might fall in love with that low Zestimate the home seller immediately dismissed.
Zestimate Error Rate for Phoenix
Zillow is very good, however, about publishing the error rate of their Zestimates. I think it’s partly a CYA move but in metro Phoenix, the median error for Zestimates is 6.5%. They calculate the error by looking at actual sale prices of homes compared to their Zestimates immediately before the sale.
In addition, Zillow says the median sale price in metro Phoenix is $210,000.
Apply 6.5% to $210,000 and we find that Zillow Zestimates in metro Phoenix are typically off by $13,650 but you don’t know if it’s $13,650 too high or $13,650 too low. And it’s worse than that because HALF of Zillow Zestimates are off by MORE than $13,650, sometimes a LOT more than $13,650.
What’s the Typical Zillow Error for My Home?
You can fine tune the typical Zestimate error by putting your home’s price range into the equation. If your home is around $300,000, for example, just multiple $300,000 by 6.5% to get the typical error for Zillow Zestimates in that price range in metro Phoenix.
Zillow is very clear that Zestimates are not appraisals. In fact, Zillow says that for a home in the $300,000 price range in Metro Phoenix, their typical error is $19,500, but you don’t know if it’s $19,500 too high or $19,500 too low. And it’s worse than that because HALF of Zillow Zestimates are off by MORE than $19,500, sometimes a LOT more than $19,500.
I’m going to publish a LONG article on Zillow Zestimate errors on my national blog next week but the takeaway is the paragraph above.