It’s hard not to love the ease and convenience of Zillow. As of 2015, an estimated 25% of online home buyers used Zillow to look for homes in their desired areas. It’s easy to see why: Zillow is mobile-friendly, convenient, and allows casual prospective buyers to search for homes based on the criteria they want. But Zillow has more than a few disadvantages that every house hunter should be wary of. The next time you consider using Zillow to find your dream home, consider these facts first.
Inaccurate Home Estimates
While Zillow can give you a decent idea of how much homes cost in certain areas, it also lists a 5-20% variance of the actual cost of the home. That’s a huge range of values! Unfortunately, Zillow can rely on poor data, which can lead to inaccurate estimates. Therefore, the estimate you first see on Zillow has the potential to be staggeringly inaccurate. This can be a huge blow for someone who gets their hopes up once they’ve found a listing they really like only to discover that it’s way out of their price range.
You Won’t Get the Whole Story
Any real estate agent will tell you that Zillow’s information isn’t to be trusted. I mentioned inaccurate home value estimates above, but that’s just the beginning. Zillow won’t tell you if a home is in pre-foreclosure, if it’s been sold, or if it’s under contract. Essentially, it’s not the greatest at giving you the most current information about a particular house. It also doesn’t profile local neighborhood data in regards to crime statistics, how good the schools are, and more.
Finding the Right Agent
Nothing beats the face-to-face interaction with a trusted real estate agent who knows an area like the back of her hand and who can give you the whole scoop on a house you might be interested in. And while Zillow can be beneficial in helping you find an agent who will do just that, keep this in mind: agents pay to have prime real estate on Zillow. The agent could be highly rated, but they may not be an expert in the neighborhood or area you’re considering moving into.
So What’s a Home Buyer to Do?
Zillow can be helpful on a surface-level basis. A “Zestimate” will give you a ballpark idea of what a home in a certain area will cost, but understand that there will be a margin for error. It’s up to you to distinguish between the good data and the bad! Zillow can also be a good starting point for finding an agent but be sure to get to know your agent before committing. The right agent has the experience, the know-how, and the motivation to help you navigate the very complex world of real estate.
From helping you find the right home that fits your budget (and your lifestyle) to negotiating a contract to closing on the home of your dreams, the right agent can make or break your home-buying experience. A robot simply can’t do any of that.
Looking for a trusted real estate agent in St. Louis with nearly 20 years of experience? Contact me, Irene Hasegawa, today to find out how I can help you find the right place for you life.