I Get “Zillowed” All The Time

Here’s a common conversation in my office after a showing a Salisbury area home to discuss a possible offer-

Dale: Here’s a list of similar homes nearby including those sold recently, under contract and active, both in statistical format as well as interactive. I’m glad we looked at everything available nearby and you are getting a good handle on the market.

Client: What do you think it’s worth?

Dale: “Worth” is a relative term, based partly on what you would be willing pay but my estimate on market value after taking all factors into account would be somewhere between “X” dollars and “Y” dollars.

Client: “X” dollars??? Really??? BUT ZILLOW SAID….

And this is where the conversation goes off the rails and becomes a train wreck for the Salisbury MD home buyer.

The issues raised by getting “Zillowed” are many, but let’s look at a few:

  1. Zillow is an AVM, or automated valuation model. An AVM CANNOT factor in local market conditions or property conditions for that matter. They will never replace the “boots on the ground” of a Buyer’s Agent.  What they can do is use models and generalizations in an attempt to predict trends and values. It’s as different as walking on the moon yourself and having someone who’s been there try to describe it.
  2. Their “Zestimates” are frequently lower than Fair Market Value and at times treated by Salisbury MD area home buyers as if they are chiseled in stone and brought down the mountain. That inevitably leads to offers that insult sellers.
  3. Sellers in the Salisbury MD real estate market can also be directly affected. A low Zestimate can convince a potential seller not to sell. If it happens often enough, a serious reduction in economic activity results. Too high and the home can languish on the market for months with no showings.

The bottom line for Salisbury MD area real estate buyers and sellers is they need to get solid, reliable and local information before making one of the most important decisions of their lives. That information is something that Zillow often fails to provide.

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