How Accurate is Zillow?

Online home estimate websites such as Zillow and Trulia are extremely popular, but just how accurate is Zillow, the Zestimate, or any other online home price valuation? Not very. In fact, these computer generated value estimates are notoriously unreliable.  Zillow accuracy rates are measured on a county-by-county basis, and the company makes the data available if you know where to look.  I’ll get into how accurate Zillow is in Smyrna, Murfreesboro, Nashville, and surrounding areas in a future post.  But first, is there anything to be learned from Zillow-type computer generated estimates?


First, let me be clear about two things:

1. In the posts in this series, unless specifically noted, the facts about Zillow and the Zestimate apply equally to any other automatic online home value estimate.  Zillow just happens to be the most popular at the moment, and “Zestimate” is frequently used by consumers to refer to any computer generated home value estimate, much like “Google” now means “search online”.

2. I don’t have anything against any of the companies mentioned. I’m just here to help you sort out the facts.  As a matter of fact, I have a 5-star Zillow rating and I’m a Trulia 5-star Realtor – ratings I’ve earned from my clients and that I’m happy to share.

How accurate is Zillow?  If you are curious about how online estimates work and their true accuracy rates in Middle Tennessee, keep reading. First, though, it’s fair to ask: What is your accuracy rate, Mr. Realtor?

In our office, the homes we listed last year sold for an average of 99.4% of the list price.

We are very good at recommending a list price that is in line with fair market value: what buyers are willing to pay and appraisers are stating as an accurate price to lenders. We are accurate with the value of our clients’ homes by over 99%. How are we able to evaluate home values so accurately? Contact me to find out.

sell home murfreesboro real estate agentsSo, how does that compare to automatic website estimates?

The popular websites vary from one site to the next, sometimes by tens of thousands of dollars, but there will only be one true value – the price a home ultimately sells for. Zillow only has accuracy data for less than half of the counties in Tennessee. How accurate is Zillow in Tennessee? In Middle Tennessee (as with most areas), the Zestimate is accurate within 5% of the actual sale price less than half of the time. That’s right, more than half the time, they’re off by over 5%. A signification portion of the time they are off by 10% to 20% or more. But it gets even worse…

The exact Zestimate accuracy numbers in middle Tennessee are incredible. I’ll address that in this post, “How Accurate is Zillow in Tennessee?”.  But first, you might want to know: Why is the Zestimate so inaccurate?  The answer is fascinating.

Contact me today to find out what your home is really worth.

Have you read the other posts in this series?

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Aaron Lovett is a full-service Realtor in Smyrna, TN, working out of the regional office of Century 21 United Realty in Murfreesboro, TN. His service area includes Smyrna, Murfreesboro, the remainder Rutherford county and surrounding areas. Aaron has lived in the area for over a decade. He takes pride in helping home buyers and sellers reach their real estate goals.

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