In Orlando and Las Vegas, Zillow has broken into the direct to sellers market, similar to those at OpenDoor and OfferPad. Zillow has placed an “Instant Offers” enabling sellers to receive and compare cash offers from investors as well as getting a comparable market analysis from a Zillow premier agent.  Lets keep in mind, Zillow is a data company that makes money on advertising and lead generation for Realtors.  “Instant offers” may be a way into a more direct consumer sales environment, eventually skipping the sales person.  But in a video, from ZIllow, Jay Thompson, director of industry outreach, discusses how the inaccurate zillow numbers allow the Realtor to gain better trust by helping the homeowner out. 

Is Zillow and the others misleading homeowners trying to get a fast sale? When zillow calculates the “market value” as a Zestimate it leaving some critical analysis out of the valuation of the property.

  • Where there concessions or abnormal?
  • What is the condition?
  • What is the View? 
  • How is the building quality? 
  • What is the location or external obsolescence?

Furthermore, Zestimates are becoming acceptable valuations in the public eye which have no guidelines. Appraisers have USPAP (Uniform standards of professional appraisal practise) which promotes consumer trust. Specifically requiring confidentiality, and mandating the appraiser prove what they did and how they did it.

Why should you get an appraisal prior to accepting any offer? Let’s look at a recent class action lawsuite between a Glenview (Chicago) real estate lawyer, Barbara Anderson (Homeowners, Realtors and Appraisers have joined) V. Zillow. The class action is about deceptive trade practices, consumer fraud, citing several state tort laws and the CFR.  Basically, it started when Barbara, tried to sell her townhome with an asking price of $626,000 for a 3 bedroom townhome, but Zillow’s estimate is $555,000. Barbara had several appraisals from certified appraisers determine the value of $626,000 confirming her asking price. 

Market participants would make offers based on the Zestimate, undercutting her prior purchase a year earlier. Barbara is claiming the Zestimate “gives the appearance to the public of being an appraisal”. She wants Zillow to remove the Zestimate from their database so she can get fair market value.  “Its my asset, my mortgage, why should a private company opine on the value, at my determint, without action to remove.   Other cases recently include a homeowner having his loan being called in by the lender because the Zestimate is showing low equity.  

 Why hire an appraiser with local knowledge to get the best offer?

  • We work in the market and know the community better than any website.
  • We understand which builder produces quality.
  • We analyze what skyline views are, and what effects powerlines have nearby.
  • We protect the lender, buyer and seller in developing a fair sale.
  • We are unbiased in our market value determination.

The participants who will make offers are investors and will seek knowledgeable homeowners. If you have a pressing need to sell fast, we can determine ask prices that will get you what you deserve. I strongly urge any homeowner not to go this route, please seek the advice of a knowledgeable realtor and have an appraisal completed prior to listing.