The Reliability of Zillow Zestimates by Cathleen Winter, Esq.

A home’s value is an important detail in the process of determining the distribution of marital assets and liabilities in dissolution of marriage proceedings. When neither spouse has obtained an appraisal on a home, people often refer to Zillow’s Zestimates to get an idea of a home’s value.

How reliable are Zillow’s Zestimates though? Can they really be relied upon in the equitable distribution process?

Can Zillow Zestimates Replace An Appraisal? 

According to The Washington Post, even the Zillow website itself states that Zillow Zestimates should not be used in place of appraisals and that their Zestimates are “a computer-generated estimate of the worth of a house today, given the available data…Our data sources may be incomplete or incorrect; also, we have not physically inspected a specific home. Remember, the Zestimate is a starting point and does not consider all the market intricacies that can determine the actual price a house will sell for.” The Washington Post further explains that based on their research, Zillow Zestimates are, on average, only within 5 percent of a home’s actual value only half of the time.

The accuracy of Zillow’s Zestimates, however, seems to differ state by state and based on the location of a property as well as the type of property being estimated.

For example, and according to The Washington Post, Zillow Zestimates “fared much better for homes selling between $500,000 and $999,999, getting within 5 percent almost 60 percent of the time, but for homes selling for less than $500,000 they were within 5 percent less than half the time.” To see the article from The Washington Post, please see the following link: Zillow Accuracy

What Are Some Reasons Why Zillow Zestimates Differ From Actual Home Values? 

According to an article from the Tampa Bay Times, the greatest differences between Zillow Zestimates and actual home values occur when a property is in an older neighborhood, particularly when that property is near water, as well as when a home has undergone extensive renovations and is surrounded by homes that have not undergone renovations. The Tampa Bay Times article further explains that the reasoning for this could be that newer homes on the water could be mixed in with older homes that are not on the water. If you would like to read the full Tampa Bay Times article, please see the following link: Test the Zestimate

How Accurate Is A Zillow Zestimate In My County? 

Although Zillow Zestimates gives individuals a starting point in determining a home’s value, Zillow’s website even encourages individuals to supplement the information contained on their website by obtaining a comparative market analysis or an appraisal. To get an idea on the accuracy of Zillow’s Zestimates in your Florida county, see the following link: Data Coverage Zestimate

For more information, be sure to contact one our attorneys at 407-757-2883.