Purchasing a home is one of the biggest investments you will make in your lifetime. As a homeowner, you take pride in this investment, often sparing no expense to keep your home looking pristine on the outside and up to date on the inside. From everyday maintenance to modern upgrades, the hope is that you will see a return on your investment and get your money’s worth when it’s time to sell.
Currently, the popularity of real estate marketplace websites like Zillow is at an all-time high, and many homeowners use these sites as their main source for pricing their home before putting it on the market. While it can be a good starting baseline, it shouldn’t necessarily set the precedent.
Why? This particular website’s “Zestimates” are created through a simple algorithm using data that is submitted from public records as well as buyers and sellers. Not only can these sources be highly unreliable, and the data not necessarily the most current, but seller concessions, location of the home, the year it was built, whether or not it’s a character home and, most importantly, upgrades, aren’t taken into account when preparing the estimate. These factors are important to consider, as they can significantly increase the value of a home.
Zillow offers a disclaimer that its Zestimate can be off by as much as 10 percent most of the time. However, in Winter Park, Maitland, College Park and Windermere, the difference could be much more due to the wide variety of housing options. Even neighborhoods such as Baldwin Park are now old enough to feature a more vast list of pros and cons in regards to location and upgrades.
Top agents understand the real estate market and the characteristics of each home. Realtors and appraisers have access to information, such as the multiple listing service (or MLS), which is a database of real estate listings prepared by real estate professionals who are members for other listing agents and brokers. These MLS listings include all of the most noteworthy details about a home for sale. Since sellers and marketplace websites such as Zillow don’t have access to the MLS, they cannot determine the proper listing and sales price for a home.
I have had the pleasure of letting sellers know that they would have left money on the table if they had used the Zestimate to price their home. We have been successful in closing deals for 20 to 30 percent more than the Zestimate price.
This is why it’s a good idea to call your neighborhood expert Realtor or appraiser to help you understand the value of your home.
Jenni Sloan is a Realtor with Kelly Price & Company. She is a leader in the industry and has helped her clients confidently navigate the Winter Park and Central Florida housing markets for 16 years.