Technology facilitates many of today’s transactions. You can research a product, find the best price available, determine the location of purchase and even procure online. However, the more expensive the item or service, the more consumers want to speak to someone reliable before purchasing.
The Internet has a place in real estate. Clients often ask about Trulia and Zillow. With realtor sites and the aforementioned commercial sites, the Internet is a good place to begin your search. It allows you to research neighborhoods, taxes, schools and pricing, on your timeline – 24/7.
Information is powerful and will impact your decisions. However, not all of the information found on the Internet is valid. Knowing the difference between the two is important. Research learned from the Internet should be verified and discussed with your real estate agent to determine accuracy.
For example, below are three different properties sold and listed on Zillow and Trulia. Note the difference in price and then compare them to the approximate price derived from the actual MLS listing. (Texas is a non-disclosure state so we, as agents, are not able to publish the actual sell price.)
Steiner Ranch home
Zillow - $714K
Trulia - $302
MLS ~ $762K
Lake Travis home
Zillow - $830K
Trulia - $792K
MLS ~ $729K
Zillow - $250K
Trulia - $144K
MLS ~ $240K
For whatever reason, Trulia is off on all three listings. Zillow estimates are more in line, however is only closely “accurate” with one of the three.
These are national portals designed to give you a guesstimate of every home in the US. There is no way to accurately provide this information without the knowledge of lot size, road noise, improvements, intangibles, etc. These sites utilize a 2 dimensional (2D) satellite view of your home versus a realtor’s 3D approach – seeing it at ground level, or even a 4D approach – seeing it, touching it, smelling it (the good and the bad) and hearing the pool waterfall or noise from the traffic, etc.
This knowledge is intrinsic in real estate and is a large part of the value of a home. Your senses make up the emotional side of a home purchase. The “Zestimator” is number driven and accounts for only a portion of the value.
We encourage buyers and sellers to use the Internet as one tool to begin their research but advise not becoming attached to the numbers until verified. When you want an accurate value for a specific home, ask an agent who knows the market and can interpret the data and trends. Your agent will be able to determine the accuracy of the data and provide you additional valid information. Armed with this knowledge you will feel confidant in your decision making process.
Article first appeared in the Four Points Newspaper, Vol. 11, Issue 27, July 22, 20015, page 4