How accurate is Zillow? Sometimes right on, sometimes not. Here are ten recent sales with their selling price, assessed value and Zillow estimate. Zillow’s right some of the time, the assessed value is closer on others. The one that is almost always wrong is the original estimate of value by the agent.
Address Orig, $ Sale $ Assessed $ Zillow
113 Cat Rock $3176 mill. $2.850 $2772 $4077
38 Quail $2925 $2.560 $2.505 $3325
100 Pemberwick $490,000 $515,000 $327 $583
34 Bowman $2195 $1980 $1090 $1975
99 Husted $5250 $3.900 $2.013 $3.873
156 Stanwich $3685 $2.450 $1.788 $2351
58 Fairfield $ 1695 $1550 $1254 $1695
12 Ledge $3795 $2.640 $2.30 $2.595
16 Edgewater $1795 $1.678 $1.127 $1.527
45 Byram $12.250 $8.500 $8.434 $6.368
UPDATE: yes, as several readers have commented “assessed value” is 70% of 2005 market value – that’s why I’ve been mentioning the figure so often in the past months: in many instances, selling price is now close to assessed value, representing a 30% drop from 2005. In fact, since houses were selling for an average of a 2.2 X the assessment back then, the drop is larger, but it gets complicated, so I stick to the 30% figure. In some instances the assessment was way off and the sales price reflects that, up and down.
Zillow does seem to be getting better than it was, but it would certainly be foolish to buy or sell solely on their numbers. For instance, while the reader would “throw out” Zillow’s estimate of $3.325 million for 38 Quail Road, I represented the buyers on that deal and I believe Zillow’s estimate would have been accurate in 2007. It’s a pure land sale, by the way – the reader is right that the house wasin serious need of renovation and will be replaced.
As for the reader who claims he’d rather use Zillow and do without an agent, (a) if he’s a buyer, he’ll save nothing – the seller’s agent will just pocket the full 5% commission rather than splitting it and (b) buyer or seller, relying solely on Zillow could cost you a lot of money, as Quail Road demonstrates on the buyers side and 45 Byram Shore demonstrates on the seller’s. Again, there are lots of factors to consider in deciding what to pay for a house or where to price it. Zillow is one tool, assessed value is another and the advice of an agent who knows what’s happening in the market is another.