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If a realtor tells me my house is worth 380k and Zillow says 440k, who do I believe?

If the Realtor has five or more years of experience in your local market, has been inside your home, has noted the lot characteristics, has found comps and provided a market analysis, and has discussed with you the features of your home that both add, and detract, from its value, you can bet their estimate of your home’s value is more accurate than Zillow’s.

Zillow is notorious for over, and under, estimating home values. Zillow doesn’t make house calls and has never been inside your home. Zillow can’t see (or can’t subjectively evaluate) your ugly bathroom, your tired kitchen, your out of date finishes. Zillow’s algorithm doesn’t compensate for your house backing to a busy road, a fast food drive-through window, or a pet food factory. When it comes to subjective determinants of value, Zillow misses the mark. Every time. It’s folly to try to compare an experienced human real estate professional to Zillow. I know it’s tempting, but just don’t do it.

Edit 1 (2021): I am a Realtor and otherwise work in the real estate brokerage industry. I believe in the value we bring to our clients and the real property markets in general. You are free to disagree with me, but not on my post. Write your own answer if you like, but don’t use my post to insult real estate brokers who I believe provide a lot of value to their communities — I will delete it.

Also, I wrote this answer a long time ago, before Zillow became a, drumroll please, real estate/iBuyer brokerage. Zillow is now ceasing those activities (as of this year, 2021) and is taking around half a billion dollars in write-offs due to losses it’s experiencing because it overpaid for those properties and now can’t sell them for a profit. If Zillow was using its own Zestimate to value those homes, the Zestimate failed Zillow, and also failed consumers who are actively in the market to buy a home but have rejected Zillow-owned homes, miserably. This, in an unprecedented sellers market, yet Zillow can’t figure out how to make money on the homes it owns? That real world failure answers the original question about the Zestimate much better than I ever could.

Edit 2: I am now disabling comments which I really didn’t want to do, but now I must. Too many Quorans don’t know the difference between commenting on my post, and writing their own. Many others have written insulting “comments” in my space. Quora has changed and not for the better.

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