The Downside of Zillow

*From Sarah D’Hondt via lightersideofrealestate.com

Let me just go ahead and say it bluntly: stop listening to Zillow.

Zillow itself even encourages buyers, sellers and homeowners to conduct other research such as “getting a comparative market analysis (CMA) from a real estate agent” and “getting an appraisal from a professional appraiser.”

Sure, Zillow’s Zestimates® are quick, easy, and free. The point? Just let a local real estate professional (who will actually see your home’s unique features in person) determine its fair market value.

Let’s dive in a bit further, shall we?

First, I don’t believe that Zillow is inherently evil. In other words, they don’t set out to intentionally mislead the general public. In fact, they do have their positive points. Nevertheless, what is the net effect when buyers and sellers use Zillow? They often get inaccurate information, rely on it (even swear by it), thus causing migraines for REALTORS and agents everywhere.

See, for those of you not working in the real estate industry, you assume that Zillow is a trusted resource to find out what your property is worth. You assume the information is factual, based on homes that have sold in your area (also known as comparables or “comps”), and therefore are to be considered true market value. I’m here to explain to you why this website is feeding you misinformation and why it should not be trusted.

To put it simply…

The fine folks at Zillow don’t have the slightest clue about your market. There are approximately 43,000 zip codes in the United States, and each one has variables that affect property values, such as: school district, knowledge of declining or flourishing areas, property taxes, proximity to interstates, hospitals, attractions and shopping, and bodies of water to name a few.

Let’s pretend that you live in a 3 bedroom, brick ranch with a basement in “Perfect Town, USA”. When you plug your address into the search bar on Zillow, you will see a bunch of dots near your home. Those dots represent other homes that have sold, have foreclosed, or that are for sale or for rent. When you click on the dots, it will show you what the home sold for and the dot on your own home is just an average (also known as a “Zestimate”) of what all the others sold for, regardless of how it compares to yours.

Let’s say that half of those homes are colonials, are vinyl sided and not made of brick, don’t have a basement, or have 4 bedrooms or more, or are on the water, while yours is across the street from the water. Those are huge differences in the world of real estate, and especially to the appraiser who will seal the fate of what your home will inevitably sell for.

Zillow does not account for the condition of your home.

Your home may have been recently remodeled and has as updated kitchen and bathrooms, a new roof, new windows, new furnace, etc… and some of the homes being used as comps are stuck in the 1980’s.

It could also be the opposite and you may see an inflated value put on your home because others in the area have sold for more because they are new construction or have been renovated. Just because your neighbors’ homes sold for $500K doesn’t mean yours will too.

Appraisers need to compare apples to apples, so unless you live in a neighborhood where all the homes are identical cookie cutter houses, don’t ever expect to sell for what your neighbors sold for. Values change with every season, and the only true indicator of what your home is worth is the buyer. A REALTOR can run a thorough comparative market analysis (CMA) for you and give you a pretty accurate value and suggested listing price, but what a buyer is willing to offer you is ultimately what your home is worth.

What a buyer is willing to pay is based on many variables too, including the location, the updates and amenities your house includes and how much competition you have. If you live in an area where it’s a sellers’ market, it means you have little competition and more buyers in the area than homes for sale. This is when you want to list your home, and can expect top dollar, as indicated by the buyer!

This doesn’t mean you ask an outrageous amount, because anything over-priced will not sell. If you live in an area that is a buyer’s market, then you need to compete with many other homes for sale and can expect your home to sit on the market longer. No matter what city you live in or how the market is in your area, one thing remains the same:

Zillow is not correct and you need to call your REALTOR today to find out the value of your home! It takes a few minutes, it’s FREE and, most importantly, it will be accurate!

December 1 Central IL Homes Guide

Our December 1st Central IL Homes Guide is now available online. You can check out the digital version before it hits stands tomorrow, Friday, 12/01/17.

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How To Succeed In Real Estate During The Holidays

*Taken from November 21, 2017 post from Delta Media Group

The holiday season is fast approaching. Many real estate agents will be packing things up and preparing for 2018. Don’t be one of them! While it’s true that things tend to slow down in real estate during the holidays, there are still plenty of people out there looking to buy, sell, or simply connect with the right real estate agent. The holidays are a great time to keep in touch with current clients and show them that you care. We have outlined simple steps you can take to succeed in real estate this holiday season.

  • A Home for the Holidays
    When the holiday season kicks off around Thanksgiving, some buyers and sellers will be suspending their search with plans to get started once January rolls around. However, there are still plenty of people out there looking for homes, and hoping to close the deal during the holidays. Anyone shopping during the holidays certainly qualifies as a motivated buyer, so why not help their holiday dreams come true?
  • Keep In Touch with Current Clients
    There will be opportunities to generate new business during the holidays, and this is also an excellent time to let your current clients know how much you appreciate their business. Sending an e-card is better than nothing, but a personalized, handwritten card is really the way to stand out. Everyone loves getting a holiday card in the mail, and taking the time to write it by hand shows that you truly care. A small, thoughtful gift is always a good idea as well, and edible gifts are great during the holidays.
  • Connect with Serious Buyers and Sellers
    While the market does tend to slow down for the holidays, the buyers and sellers who remain are often very committed to getting a deal done. These are people who are willing to give up some of their holiday time to close the deal, and are looking for an agent who can make it happen as quickly and painlessly as possible. Since fewer homes are available during the holidays, this is also an excellent time to showcase any listings that you do have on the market.
  • Deck the Halls… and the Front Yard, Too
    Staging a home takes work, and the holiday season presents staging opportunities that aren’t available during the rest of the year. Decorating a bit for the holidays can really add some atmosphere to an open house, and a well-decorated home may even catch the attention of buyers who were planning to pack things in during the holidays. Remember that curb appeal is also a huge part of staging a home, so outdoor lighting, a clean yard, and a well-maintained entrance go a long way.
  • Picking the Right Price
    No matter what time of year you’re selling a home, setting the right price is a huge part of attracting a buyer. Pricing a home to move will help you attract the attention of more potential buyers during the holidays, and offering a good deal is a great way to spread holiday cheer. There’s no reason to go too far below the going rate, but choosing a price that’s a bit lower than comparable homes in your market may give you a leg up during the holidays.