I recently attended a social networking day sponsored by Inman News, a major compiler of news for the real estate industry. One of the presenters was from Zillow. He asked that real estate agents "not throw Zillow under the bus" when speaking to their clients. Why would he say that? Perhaps more than a few of the several hundred realtors attending had a past experience with a seller who wished to base the market price of their home on a "Zestimate" from Zillow. I myself had that experience back in the prime of the market. I knew that Zillow could report accurately the price of homes that were sold. But I also knew that Zillow could not tell which street a buyer found more or less desirable- and as we all know there are better or worse streets in the best of neighborhoods. Nor could Zillow tell which home had been completely remodeled for a higher value or had a bedroom off of the kitchen that would cause a buyer to run for the hills when they saw it.
So the Zillow presenter shared a tool that I was not aware of- perhaps to mollify any smoldering past resentments in the room. At the bottom of Zillow's main page is a very small link to their accuracy ratings for major cities, Portland included, which I recently visited. For Portland they give themselves a median accuracy of 9.4%. On a house marketed for $400,000 that is close to $40,000 off from the Zestimate. Further, 78% of the homes valued by a zestimate were off by up to 20%, translating into a $80,000 difference on a $400,000 home.
Again, Zillow is a great place to see the "solds" and actively marketed homes in your neighborhood. However, for a real market value of your home, the thoughtful analysis of a trusted real estate professional can't be beat. Visit the zestimate accuracy chart.