Incorrect Towson Zillow Zestimates Strike Again

Memorial Day brings families together, and discussions many times go to real estate, especially when you have a member of your family who specializes in that field.

I like to know my Towson real estate marketplace so when I am asked how much a home is that someone passed on the way to my house, I know the answer.

One family member who lives not too far away, said he went on Zillow to find out how much his home is worth. He is not selling anytime soon, and didn’t want to “bother me”, but couldn’t believe that his home was worth over $210,000 less than he bought it for just 2 1/2 years ago.

Now, a neighbor’s house is on the market for $624,900. This area is very diverse, much like Towson, so the neighbor’s house is much smaller, with significantly lesser acreage. It’s Zestimate? $440,500. $184,400 difference (30%!).

This brought me to show them my past posts about Misleading Towson Zillow Zestimates and the one about how my past client’s HELOC was reduced based on the very incorrect Zillow Zestimate on his home.

Pulling two homes that are on the market near my Towson home (that he passed, and yes, had asked me about), I found one listed for $2,495,000. Zestimate? $971,000. Over $1.5 MILLION difference (39%!) The smaller one down the street from there? On the market for $615,000, Zestimate $489,000. (20% difference).

I wrote about it on a Realtor website called ActiveRain to find out if others are having similar issues. I also sent the information to my two contacts at Zillow. Responses have been that the site is very off in areas across the country. The one contact at Zillow, David Gibbons, stated in an email to me:

“It appears as though the Zestimate values for unique homes in this area that have not recently sold (like this one) seem to be driven largely off the tax values. For some reason, this homeowner pays incredibly low taxes (half that for homes selling at $2M.) I’m pretty certain that that is why our estimate is indeed off…”

Again, this emphasizes that real estate truly is LOCAL. However, if a site is designed to helps consumers determine values, shouldn’t those values be SOMEWHAT accurate?

If you would like an accurate Towson home value estimate, please contact me. I can help you anywhere in the Baltimore real estate market area, or can refer you to an agent anywhere across the country.

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2 Comments

  • Jerry Powers says:

    I totally agree that Zillow’s Zestimates are not accurate. However, in my local market, Tulsa, I’m seeing that their estimates are too high! I don’t know how they are calculating the values in my market because the county tax appraisal is always lower.

    I use PropStream for determining my comps but I use Zillow, RealQuest, and Homegain to back up my comp value. However, I almost always find that Zillow is too high but RealQuest is usually real close to my value. And Homegain just gives a broad range so it’s not extremely useful.

    I would imagine that homeowners using Zillow in my market to determine their house value drives the Realtors crazy when they go to sell it. Homeowners are always going to believe their house is worth more than what it is and I’m sure that it’s a challenge for Realtors to convince them otherwise. That’s where a good CMA comes in handy.

    As many people that use Zillow I just wish they would tighten up their value calculations!

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