The Berks-Mont News (http://www.berksmontnews.com)

Ask Esther: Are Web Estimates Reliable?


By Esther Prosser, Guest Columnist

Friday, May 3, 2013

Dear Esther,
I have been looking at homes for a few months and finally found one I love so I signed a contract to purchase it. Although I thought I was getting a deal, the estimate on www.zillow.com (“zestimate”) showed I was paying $20,000 more than it was worth. I’m wondering how reliable their estimates are and how they get their values?
Thanks,
Web of Confusion
Dear Web of Confusion,
We are living in a time where most people search online for homes, depending on websites such as trulia.com, zillow.com or realtor.com for home information. Simply enter a property address in the search criteria in any of these websites, and you can find information from the number of bedrooms to the school district and everything in between. Included with this, Zillow and Trulia provide a “guess” about the value of the home.
Although these websites are helpful in getting the word out about homes for sale, when they go a step further and provide a value which is many times inaccurate and unreliable, they do a disservice to the home selling and buying business. These values mislead folks who believe them to be true.
It is important to remember that they are not hiring appraisers or agents or anyone knowledgeable about home values. They simply gather data about the property and nearby homes and run this through a formula to come up with a computer generated guess.
If you have signed a contract on a home you feel is a good one, I would not let the zillow “zestimate” discourage you. Recently, a client of mine was struggling with paying what a seller was asking for a home he really wanted. After a discussion about its value, I asked him if he wanted the home. He admitted he did and agreed – a home is worth whatever a buyer is willing to pay for it.
If you have real estate questions, feel free to contact me – Esther Prosser, PO Box 20, Elverson, PA 19520, esther@stoltzfus.com , 484.269.7153.
Disclaimer – Esther Prosser is a realtor with Stoltzfus Enterprises, LTD, which advertises with Journal Register Co. publications.
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