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What are the Alternatives to the Zillow House Value Estimate?

By Bill Gassett | January 31, 2024

Establishing an accurate market value is essential when buying or selling a home. Without accurate information, consumers are put in a position where they can make significant financial mistakes.

Unfortunately, many people unknowingly turn to Internet estimation tools. They don't realize that these online real estate estimators are not as accurate as assumed.

Determining an accurate home value becomes crucial when making such a life-altering decision.

From three decades of experience as a top-producing Realtor, buyers and sellers should never rely on these tools. An algorithym cannot provide the expertise necessary to make the best decisions. At least not yet.

When you need accurate pricing information it is best to hire a local real estate agent or appraiser. These pros will have the knowledge and expertise to deliver.

For example, using an online tool would be foolhardy when splitting the home in divorce.

That being said, an online estimation tool can be a helpful place to start. It can give you a ballpark estimate. From there, you can nail down a more precise estimation of value.

I highly recommend getting someone with years of experience when pricing a home. It is easy to make home pricing mistakes with careful analysis.

Alternatives to Zillow Estimates

What Are Online Home Value Estimators?

An online home value estimator is a tool that provides an estimate of the current market value of a property based on various factors such as location, size, age, and recent sales data (comps) of similar properties in the area.

These estimators use algorithms and data analytics to calculate a home's approximate value without needing a physical appraisal.

Users can input the property's address and receive an estimated value. It makes it a convenient and quick way to understand its worth.

The process typically involves the estimator analyzing public records, tax assessments, recent sales data, and other relevant information to generate an estimate.

While these tools can be helpful for homeowners, buyers, and sellers to get a general sense of a property's value, it's important to note that the estimates are not as precise as a professional appraisal and should be used as a starting point for further research and consideration.

Online home value estimators have become increasingly popular due to their accessibility and ease of use. They allow individuals to quickly assess a property's potential value without engaging a real estate professional or appraiser.

Are Home Value Estimations Accurate?

Can you get an accurate online value? It is possible in some limited circumstances. If you have a tract home where there are limited differences in details, it's likely to be more accurate.

A condo is a community where all the units are substantially similar, which could be another example. However, it usually won't get the brass tacks needed for a proper assessment. Too many variables go into property valuation to expect an online estimation to be accurate.

Several Studies Back Up These Claims

The Reserve Bank of Philidelphia analyzed the accuracy and found Zillow estimates to be more accurate at the national level but had more significant errors at the local level. The accuracy varied by geographic region.

For example, the accuracy of estimates may be better in Florida or California vs. Massachusetts. Zillow has also reported that listed homes tend to have more accurate valuations than those not.

Other Agents Share Similar Experiences

Karen Highland, a Realtor at eXp, mentioned that estimates of value in her area of Maryland tend to be all over the map. "Bill, it is a constant battle to educate the public who trusts their home's online estimate. Chris and I are constantly educating our clients why these estimates are all over the map.

Sometimes, the value is too high, and others too low. Building trust becomes crucial when potential clients want to believe these estimations."

What Other Sites Provide Home Value Estimates?

When determining a home's value, Zillow has long been a go-to resource for many people. However, several alternatives to Zillow also offer reliable home value estimates.

Whether you're a homeowner looking to gauge your property's worth or a prospective buyer trying to assess the market, these alternatives can provide valuable insights.

1. Redfin

Redfin is a popular real estate brokerage that offers a comprehensive online platform for homebuyers and sellers. One of its standout features is the Redfin Estimate. The tool estimates a home's value based on data from multiple listing services, public records, and user inputs.

The Redfin Estimate is known for its accuracy and is frequently used by real estate professionals and consumers alike.

Redfin did a study that compared the accuracy of their automated home value estimates to those of other popular online valuation tools. The study found that Redfin's estimates were the most accurate among the group.

It's hard to know if this is true since they did the study.

2. Realtor.com

Realtor.com is another reputable resource for home value estimates. Its Home Value Estimator tool leverages public data, property details, and market trends to estimate a home's value.

Users can also view historical sales data and local market trends to understand property values in a specific area better.

3. Trulia

Trulia, owned by Zillow Group, offers a user-friendly platform for real estate information and home value estimates.

The Trulia Estimate approximates a property's value based on various factors, including recent sales, property characteristics, and local market trends. In addition to the estimate, Trulia provides insights into neighborhood amenities, crime rates, and school information.

4. RE/MAX

RE/MAX, a well-known real estate brokerage, also offers an online home value estimator, the Home Value Estimator tool. This tool utilizes a combination of public records, property details, and market trends to estimate a home's current market value.

Users can input their property's address to receive an estimated value and insights into historical sales data and local market trends.

The RE/MAX Home Value Estimator aims to provide homeowners and buyers with valuable information to understand their properties' potential value better.

4. HomeSnap

HomeSnap is a mobile app that allows users to snap a photo of any home to instantly receive details about the property, including an estimated value.

The app integrates with multiple listing services and public records to provide accurate home value estimates.

HomeSnap also offers information on recent sales, property history, and local market trends, making it a valuable tool for buyers and sellers.

5. HouseCanary

HouseCanary is a data analytics company specializing in real estate valuation and forecasting. Its platform offers various services, including home value estimates, market trends, and property insights.

HouseCanary's proprietary algorithms and extensive data sources enable it to deliver highly accurate home value estimates, making it a top choice for real estate professionals and investors.

Conclusion

Collateral Analytics conducted a study comparing various automated valuation models (AVMs), including those used by Zillow, Redfin, and Realtor.com. The study found differences in accuracy among these models.

Much like real estate agents or appraisers giving value opinions, they can differ.

While Zillow has long been a trusted source for home value estimates, several alternatives offer equally reliable information. Remember that determining home value is crucial in buying or selling decisions.

Online estimators should not be used when accuracy is needed. Look for professionals to help assist in making any financial decisions.

As a longstanding Realtor, I can never imagine looking at a home's estimate and thinking that's my value. The bottom line is don't do it!

Bill Gassett is an authority in the real estate industry with 38 years of experience. Bill is well respected for his informative articles for buyers, sellers, and fellow real estate agents to make sound decisions. His work has been featured on RIS Media, the National Association of Realtors, Inman News, Newsbreak, Credit Sesame, Realty Biz News, and his own authoritative resource, Maximum Real Estate Exposure. He has been on of the top RE/MAX agents in New England over the last two decades.
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