Westport Homeowners: what you need to know about Zillow

If you have looked at moving anytime in the last few years, you might have been swamped by the number of real estate websites out there. You can find sites specifically for apartments or ones that focus more on homes. A popular real estate website is Zillow, and many people visit there when beginning a search for a home. Of course, it helps that Zillow is often the first thing that comes up when you do an internet search.

However, just because something is easily accessible, it doesn’t mean that it’s accurate or trustworthy. Many sites like Zillow have information that’s outdated or just plain incorrect. Despite being one of the top real estate websites, there are quite a few reasons why Zillow just doesn’t work. The problem is that anyone can put information on Zillow, not just real estate brokers.

This guide will explain why Zillow isn’t everything you thought it was, what role the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) plays in your home search, and why the MLS is a better option when buying or selling residential real estate.

What Is the MLS?

If you’ve ever wondered how so many websites all have the same information on different properties, you’ll be interested to know that most of the information comes from the MLS.

The MLS is a central database for Realtors. When a Realtor works with someone to sell their house, they list the property on the MLS. The MLS is the only place with the most accurate and up-to-date information on any property for sale. These real estate websites like Zillow then pull information from the MLS to create listings on their website. While it’s possible to list your property on Zillow, it’s far better to have a Realtor create a listing for you on the MLS which will then feed into Zillow and many other real estate websites.

What Does Zillow Actually Do?

Many people view Zillow as the go-to place for finding a home to buy. While you can find properties on Zillow, it is essentially just a gathering place for homes with information that may or may not be accurate. It can be a place to get ideas for homes to look at, however, the listings don’t necessarily update in real-time, so you might find that the home you were looking at is, in fact, no longer for sale, is more expensive, or is missing important information.

Why Zillow Doesn’t Work for Buyers

Many people turn to Zillow when they begin looking to buy or rent a home. However, there are several reasons why Zillow doesn’t work well for buyers/renters.

Inaccurate listings: Zillow pulls new properties from the MLS, so they are likely accurate initially. However, Zillow doesn’t update the properties frequently, so you might find that the price has changed or the listing isn’t even available anymore.
Realtors recommended by Zillow aren’t always great: When you look at a property on Zillow, it will recommend a local Realtor to you. Don’t just assume that a Realtor is an expert or even competent.
Unfamiliar agents: You might also find yourself being contacted by an agent who doesn’t know much about the area you are looking at. This means they probably don’t have all the information you need to make a good decision.
Spam: When you give your contact information to Zillow, they might send it to several Realtors and this could result in unwanted calls.
Why Zillow Doesn’t Work for Sellers
It’s not just buyers that Zillow doesn’t work well for. Here are some reasons why Zillow also doesn’t work for sellers.

Zillow is a marketing company: Zillow is not a real estate broker. They are simply a marketing company that has chosen to focus on real estate. They don’t have any particular skill in selling homes.
Inaccurate Zestimates: You can’t rely on the Zestimate to be an accurate reflection of your home’s value. Do not use that number to determine what you sell the house for, your tax liability, or closing costs.
Zillow has admitted that the Zestimate is only accurate within 20% of final sales prices 83.1% of the time. That can mean a huge price difference, especially when a more expensive house is involved.
When Zillow CEO, Spencer Rascoff, sold his home, it sold for 40% below what the Zestimate told him it should sell for. The Zestimate was $1.75 million, and the house sold for just $1.05 million!
While Zillow may seem like a great place to sell a home or look for a home, you’re far better off working with an experienced real estate agent. A local Realtor has insights into the local market, private listings, the MLS and is held to a higher standard by the National Association of Realtors, not to mention their local reputation.

If you’re looking to buy or sell a home in Westport, pick a top Realtor who has lots of experience in this market. Judy Michaelis has been helping people find homes in Westport for over 29 years. If you’d like to discuss your home’s value or if you’re ready to make a move, call Judy at 203-247-5000 and start the conversation or contact Judy more information.