17 March 2011 ~ 0 Comments

Zillow vs the appraisal!

Home value sites are a wonderful way to find out a ‘ballpark’ value for your home – for free! What’s better than that? But sometimes you get what you pay for. Below is a list of some free home value sites you can try for yourself. And I decided to put them to the test vs. a real live appraisal I just had done for my own home. 

To see how the sites compared, I put in my home address (6578 Bayberry Street, Oak Park, CA 91377) as of 9/2010 in each of the free home value sites.

The zinger with my home is that I did an addition 5 years ago (with permit) increasing my sq footage from 1,833 sq ft to 2,677 sq ft (per current public records).  And my home has a view and upgrades. Let’s see if the sites pick up on that….

So I just got an appraisal of my home, it was $750,000, due primarily to our good view, low effective age (due to the addition), and upgrades. The value was also based on active listings and two pending homes in escrow in my homes market area.

Remember, these free home value site estimates are only guesses, and should only be taken mostly ’for entertainment value’  – so when YOU use them, don’t take them toooo seriously, I don’t………..

  • Zillow – the big dog on the block now, very popular, now linked with Yahoo.com (Zillow valued my house at $681,500. Zillow has my public record sq ft (incorrectly) as 3,521 sq ft, but the ‘combined’ sq ft as 2,750 sq ft, which I edited, and apparently valued based on the 2,750 sq ft. I also compared the ACTIVE and SOLD homes with the local MLS, and Zillow had all of the SOLD comps, except for sales within 30 days, and about 1/2 of the ACTIVE listings for my neighborhood. Pretty good.
  • Homegain – was one of the first on the block to have a free home value service . (HomeGain valued my house at $565,706 – $664,089 (averaged out at $614,897). They did not pick up on my 5 year old 900 sq ft addition. Homegain.com, though, is easy to use and shows the comps for the area right under your value. They showed sales comps going back 12 months, and separated the ‘comparable sales’ – those nearest my sq footage, with ‘nearby sales’, those sales NOT nearest my sq ft. Very nice, but they did use OLD sales back 12 months. To find ACTIVE listings, you cant go directly from your home stats and look up listings, you have to enter the data for exactly what you are looking for. Not very intuitive.
  • Cyberhomes – Owned by Fidelity National Financial. Cyberhomes valued my home at $554,549. They also missed my 900 sq ft addition we did 5 years ago. They have some nice info on the site, but finding SOLD comps or ACTIVE listings was a joke.
  • Trulia – Trulia valued my home at $596,487. They list this as ‘an average sales price for similar recently sold homes, but not sure HOW recent or HOW similar. They also did not pick up my 5 year old addition). Trulia.com is not very user friendly in getting a fast estimate of your value, you kinda have to read through everything else to get your area ‘average’. Trulia does have some nice features, I especially like their TruliaHindSight, it shows your neighborhood growing up over time.
  • RealQuestExpress – a ‘free’ site of RealQuest, previously owned by FirstAmerican Title, now CoreLogic. RealQuestExpress DID pick up on my addition, and has it listed correctly from the public records on their site. They valued my home at $579,000. Values are free, but sale comps, area characteristics, features, etc, will cost you $$$. They have no active listings.
  • Eppraisal.com – Eppraisal shows both theirs and Zillow’s values. They DID have my sq footage correct (2,677 sq ft), but their ‘Recently Sold Homes’ were in a different city about one mile away !?!? There were plenty of closer comps which were not shown on their map. But for $9.95, you could buy a list of comps (I assume the correct ones). Eppraisal.com valued my home at $738,186, the nearest to our appraisal. I’m not sure if they used the comparables listed on their site for my home, which were well outside of my neighborhood.

Here is a breakdown of my homes’ value, from LOW to HIGH, as of the exact same date -

  • Cyberhomes – $554,549
  • RealQuestExpress – $579,000
  • Trulia -  $596,487
  • HomeGain – $614,897
  • Zillow – $681,500
  • Eppraisal – $738,186
  • $400 appraisal from a real human being – $750,000

So Eppraisal.com came CLOSET to my ‘appraised’ value, but I’m sure Eppraisal.com and the other ‘free’ home value sites did not take into consideration my view, upgrades, or effective age as the real human being appraiser did. And only a couple of the free sites even got my square footage correct (but the appraiser did after measuring my home).

Obviously, these factors were only for my home. YMMV (your mileage may vary)!

A couple other sites of note:

Other free home value sites like RealEstateABC, Yahoo! and others simply use Zillow for the values, hence they showed the same $681,500 value as Zillow did.

I also tried some other popular FREE real estate sites ….

  • Domania – Domania.com listed sale comps that ranged from $170K – $1.1m, both attached condos and high end homes that did not compare to my home at all. Not very good at all, actually more misleading than informative.
  • Realtor.com – Controlled by NAR (National Association of Realtors) and should have ALL MLS listed homes for sale. Clunky interface, no home value tool, a nightmare to find a specific house for sale unless you have its MLS number. Technically not friendly at all.

Have any home value sites you like ? Let me know……

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.