"Palos Verdes Resident since 1947"

Zillow and the Like

If you haven’t kept up on fast-moving real estate technology, Zillow may be an unfamiliar name to you.  If so, in the last few years, internet websites have sprung up for everything you can imagine, among which are those which purport to give you the value of your house or, perhaps more tantilizing, that of your neighbor.  Zillow is the most prominent of these, with such as Truila and Redfin also in the game.

While the subject matter may not be as scandalous as such as that of National Enquirer, the credibility is about the same.  Such sources may look objective, and the fact that a computer came up with the information might lend it ostensible credibility but, if you think about it (and you know what I’m about to say if you have read my stuff) the notion of determining the value of a property that is remotely accurate by mining tax record data from a keyboard in a cubicle in (this case) Washington State is ridiculous.  Anyone who has sold a house with a complete remodel, panoramic view, or huge flat lot knows that computations based solely upon dwelling square footage or bedroom and bathroom count have about as much chance of accuracy as a sniper after 8 cups of coffee. 

But Zillow has the solution!  They allow the property owner or Realtor to go into the back end of the site and modify the values!  Say what?  Yes, it’s true.  I’m sure they were flooded with complaints from property owners with low Zestimates (as Zillow calls them), so this was their answer.  Enough said.

So why do these sites exist?  To make money by selling advertising, pure and simple.  Their solicitations of me to advertise on their site have finally stopped, probably after I let them know what I thought of their credibility.  They’re in business simply to make money.  That’s not a bad thing, but doing it by misleading the public is not something I can endorse by associating my name with it.

The only way to really accurately determine the market value of your house is to put it on the market.  Short of that, inviting a Realtor in who is familiar with the area will also do it.  Such a Realtor will be familiar with the past sales in the area and can meaningfully compare them with your house.  It has to be someone who regularly does business in the area tho – someone from, say, Manhattan Beach, probably doesn’t see enough property in Palos Verdes to have seen the past sales when they were for sale (which is when you have to do it).  Only in this way can a meaningful comparison be made between your house and past sales with regard to such important criteria as condition, floor plan, view, lot usability, neighborhood, etc, all of which can have a significant effect on the value, and none of which are considered by sites such as Zillow.

So call me at 310 613-1076 or email me at [email protected] and we can talk.  Talk is cheap, but can be invaluable to you in avoiding pitfalls selling your house.

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