Is Zillow’s “Zestimate” a Reliable Guide to Your Santa Barbara Home’s True Value?

Over the last several years, the prolific amount of real estate information on the Internet has allowed the consumer to gather a lot of valuable information on their own.  Many of these tools have educated both buyers and sellers in whatever stage they might be in with regards to potentially buying or selling a

home. One popular tool that I have run into as well and that has been brought to my attention by several clients is "the evaluation tool" which allows homeowners to receive an "estimate" of their property's value.  The best known of these tools is probably the one at called a "Zestimate."

I am almost always positive about all the information that is now in the hands of consumers, but I have to admit that I am not a huge fan of this "Zestimate." From everything I know, this tool only relies on what information is published out on the Internet.   Zillow and other evaluation tools rely on static data in computer databases without any means of comparing the hundreds of factors that influence price. I have typed in many addresses myself here in the Santa Barbara area into the "Zestimate" tool and I would say that on average, these prices vary by +/- 7.5 % and in many areas will vary up to 14% as even admitted by themselves. To me this is not that helpful of a tool. Many homes in Santa Barbara sell for between $750,000 and $2.5 Million.  A "Zestimate" therefore will then quite often be off target by $100,000 to $250,000. Unless information is published on the Internet, "Zestimates" have no knowledge about:

  1. Amount and quality of upgrades on the particular home
  2. Credits given during a past transaction that then represent comparables
  3. Individual setting of the home and potential views
  4. Neighborhood and neighbor issues and concerns
  5. Contingency sales that effect sale price of a particular past sale
  6. Seller and buyer's personal situation for agreeing on a price
  7. Intricacies of neighborhood concerns, issues effecting subject property
  8. History of the subject home
  9. I could list another 10 items easily

If you are a home buyer here in the Santa Barbara area, a great strategy for countering the use of a "Zestimate" is to contact a hard working Santa Barbara real estate agent and get an "Exactimate" based on the knowledge of the market and each home in our area. "Zestimates" are probably useful in many areas, but with regards to Santa Barbara real estate, I believe that you have to pay closer attention.  Santa Barbara is not a town where homes are sold on price per square foot for example.  All the time we will have homes on the same block that will look similar on the Internet but in reality represent a $200,000 price difference.

Further Reading:

  1. Is My Realtor a Santa Barbara Neighborhood Specialist?

For information on Real Estate here in Santa Barbara, Montecito and/or our surrounding areas, as well as any other aspects of life in our area, please don’t hesitate to contact Kevin Schmidtchen at Berkshire Hathaway.

Thank you for reading.  I hope you find Santa Barbara Real Estate Voice informative. Please feel free to contact me or comment below with any thoughts.

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