We can find almost anything online, right? But what about property value? How do Zillow values compare with actual appraised values? Let’s compare some recent appraisals with values from Zillow (“zEstimates”).
- North Sacramento home: Appraisal: $60,000; Zillow: $87,000 (+45.0%)
- Del Paso Area home: Appraisal: $110,000; Zillow: $70,000 (-36.0%)
- College Greens home: Appraisal: $270,000; Zillow: $290,000 (+7.5%)
- Serrano home: Appraisal: $550,000; Zillow $466,000 (-15.0%)
- Rancho Cordova home: Appraisal: $125,000; Zillow: $128,000 (+2.4%)
- Elk Grove home: Appraisal: $185,000; Zillow: $185,100 (0%)
- Elk Grove home: Appraisal: $280,000; Zillow: $255,000 (-8.9%)
- Sun City Lincoln Hills: Appraisal: $415,000; Zillow: $403,000 (-3.0%)
- Orangevale home: Appraisal: $145,000; Zillow: $165,000 (+14.0%)
- Land Park area home: Appraisal: $305,000; Zillow: $270,000 (-11.0%)
In my experience Zillow is very much hit and miss. It can seem more accurate in newer cookie-cutter neighborhoods, but wildly off in other cases when neighborhood boundaries are very tight, data is scarce or condition varies greatly in the local market. Additionally, it seems to me that the listing price in MLS is given strong weight because Zillow can pull that data over to use in its algorithm.
I know you’re expecting me to say all this, but it’s true. Online valuation sites can be a nice tool to tinker around with for real estate and rental values, but nothing replaces the human element. This is really a classic “Terminator principle” example where “humans vs machines” go to battle and humans win (sorry to give away the end of the movie). While algorithms can be very powerful, they cannot see important neighborhood boundaries, quality of construction, high-level craftsmanship, the motivation of buyers and sellers, condition, positive or negative location factors, any sense of charm or appeal, and so many other elements. On top of all of this, the real estate market in the Sacramento area has been a wild ride and it’s not easy to interpret. So many neighborhoods in Sacramento have close to 70% of all sales being either foreclosures or short sales, which complicates sifting through data to establish true market value. Distressed sales tend to sell for less, but not always, so it makes for a very interesting process to properly value a house.
My advice? Enjoy Zillow for what it is and take it with a grain of salt, but trust an experienced and local human appraiser for the final say.
Go check your Zillow value. Does it seem realistic to you? I’m curious.
If you have any questions, or real estate appraisal or property tax appeal needs in the Greater Sacramento Region, contact Lundquist Appraisal by phone 916-595-3735, email, Facebook, Twitter or subscribe to posts by email.