Wednesday, April 15, 2015

What’s Your Home’s Value? Assessor, Zillow and Others Differ Widely



[Published April 16, 2015, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in four Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

The valuation models used by different websites — including the county assessor — vary so much that it can drive a homeowner crazy! 


One website in particular has made a name for itself in this respect, and that is www.zillow.com.  Its so-called “zestimates” can give home sellers either hope or despair and can vary widely from being way too low to being way too high.


It was in response to Zillow’s valuations that the National Association of Realtors (NAR) created the “Realtor Property Resource” (RPR) to help its Realtor members produce more accurate valuations.


Unlike Zillow, which depends largely on public records both for the subject property’s description and for the sale price of comparable properties, RPR has access to historical MLS data from its member MLS’s, as well as many other resources and databases, both public and proprietary. 


I like RPR and have made it my personal go-to resource for valuing homes. By pricing homes based on the RPR valuation, I have found that homes sell quickly, often over that valuation. Most of my clients agree with that strategy, and others who insist on listing their homes for more because of valuations they have seen on Zillow and elsewhere, have often been disappointed at how their home has lingered on the market and the final price they received.

 
For the chart shown here, I selected some random addresses from around Jefferson County and looked for valuations of each on five websites.

 
The assessor’s website is http://assessor.jeffco.us.  RPR is accessible only by NAR members (“Realtors”). I can put in any address in the country, and it will give you a fairly accurate valuation. Realist is available via the MLS and is a CoreLogic product which provides tons of information, not just valuations. To complete the chart, I chose Chase’s mortgage website, similar to that of other lenders.

 
Remember, no algorithm can replace a market analysis by a Realtor using true comps for your home.

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