The Rx about why Zillow and Trulia data can’t be trusted

Zillow Trulia Apollo RealtyTrusting data from Zillow is like trusting WebMD.com instead of visiting a doctor.  Doctors cringe when a patient says: “according to WebMD.com  I have a cold…” just like we cringe when a client says: “Zillow.com says the house is worth $50K more…”  We cringe because we know that Zillow and Trulia data is inaccurate and out of date, while the MLS system we rely upon is updated every 15 to 30 minutes.

The team at Apollo Realty has its finger on the pulse of the Space Coast real estate market. Every day, we know which properties have just listed, or just reduced, or have just come under contract. We also know which comparative properties (or “comps”) an appraiser is most likely to consider. We also know the particulars of a neighborhood, all of which factors in to our ability to help our clients make a reasonable estimate of what a viable purchase or sales price might be.

Zillow, on the other hand, is notorious for creating a “Zestimate” by using comparison homes (comps) that are not appropriate. The company factors in as many comps as possible in order to even the numbers out. This in turn skews the findings, which can be tens of thousands of dollars off from what a local Broker’s Price Estimate or a Bank Appraisal might be.

A Zestimate is catchy, but unreliable.

Here’s a good example: Zillow and Trulia may state that a home sold for pennies on the dollar, when in fact, it was simply the amount of Trustee’s Sale. Next, they use this skewed value as a comparison for other homes in the neighborhood. It’s not uncommon customers to call and ask why a home is selling for $275 when they can see on Zillow that it “just sold last month for $195K.”

Naturally, Zillow doesn’t hide the fact that its mass-market property-value estimates are off. On its website, Zillow states that its estimates are “educated guesses, based on public records and previous sales.” Research has proven, however, that these “educated guesses” are in fact, off by more than one-third.

A study by the WAV Group determined that “about 36 percent of the listings shown as active on Zillow and Trulia were no longer for sale in the local MLS, compared with zero percent or near-zero percentage for the listings on the brokerage websites.” (source)

The study also found that “listings were slower to make their way to Trulia and Zillow’s websites than brokerage sites. Newly listed homes on the brokerages’ websites showed up a median of seven days earlier than on Zillow and nine days earlier than on Trulia. MLSs typically update their listings every 15 to 30 minutes and so brokerages, which typically are source MLS data, have extremely up-to-date listing data.”

“The findings are clear: real estate brokerage websites showed by far the most homes for sale, recognized which homes were no longer for sale, and displayed new listings much earlier,” said WAV Group CEO Victor Lund in a statement.

Trust your neighborhood realtor, not a website.

So before you trust those Zestimates and Trulia findings, we invite you to use our website MLS search tools and call Apollo Realty at (321) 784-9602. For 25 years, the Apollo Realty team has been helping clients buy, sell and rent in the Space Coast market. We’ve survived through the recession, the real estate bubble, and multiple hurricanes. Our team can also tell you which property values will do well in a recession vs. those that swing hard when the market is down. And like a doctor, we’ll help you make the most informed and accurate buying or selling decision possible!

The benefits of hiring Apollo Realty for property management

Many clients utilize our services because they simply don’t have the time, energy or desire to manage their own investment property or deal with the day-to-day tenant issues. If you’d prefer not to get a phone call at 2:00 am about a leaking water heater or an A/C Unit that has stopped working, this program is designed for you.

Some are investors and are located many miles away from their investment property and desire our ‘local representation’ so that we can respond and act on behalf of the property owner. Other clients retain Apollo Realty simply to avoid the necessity of their personal involvement with tenants, handling tenant disputes, dealing with rent collections, handling rent increases, lease renewals, screening for replacement tenants, responding to ‘emergency’ issues 24/7 which involve arranging ongoing and emergency property maintenance, and the headaches of dealing with multiple contractors.

Apollo Realty clients enjoy the personal ‘cost savings’ to them in terms of their time, effort, and energy, which is needed to manage a rental property on an ongoing basis. Let our property management specialists and agents handle all aspects of caring for your property — 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.

Listed below are a few of the many services included:

Leasing

Quickly find a QUALIFIED Tenant for your property
Provide a THOROUGH background screening, to include:
Verify Income
Verify Rental History
Credit Check
Nationwide Criminal Record Check
Eviction Filing History
Nationwide Sex Offender Registry Search

Property Management

Strictly Enforce the Lease
Rent Collection
Coordinate Maintenance
Payment of Bills
Tenant Eviction Services
Maintain Tenant Relations
Negotiate Lease Renewals
Make-Ready Coordination
Professional Advice and Counsel
Federal, State and Local Law Compliance
Annual Accounting Compliance (issue 1099)

Call Apollo Realty at (321) 784-9602 and let us handle the rest!