Right Pricing, part 2: Zestimate or Realtor.com?

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By Ray Kutylo
Signal Contributing Writer

I receive questions from people about real estate all the time. Here’s an interesting one that got my propeller hat spinning…

Question: “Hey, happy Saturday morning!

When you’re up and around, I have a question (which you will probably hate, but: Is Realtor.com or Zillow more accurate when it comes to comp value for my house? I am asking because there is a big difference.”

Answer: Both have been wildly inaccurate in my experience. They are data points, and I will reference them, but neither have eyes on the property nor do they weigh condition, upgrades, neighborhood or location pluses or minuses very well.

These online algorithms go crazy in this low inventory housing environment, trying to make an evaluation incorporating outliers as closed sales either high or low. I have found these estimates in the Santa Clarita Valley to be plus or minus up to 18 percent compared to a professional’s evaluation. By the way,  all sellers have confirmation bias when these online estimates are way too high.

Right now, after a test of a number of homes that I know by having been in the property, the difference between the Zillow and Realtor.com estimates comes to around 5 percent for homes under $550,000, and a difference of up to 10 percent for homes over $650,000.

Neighborhoods such as condo developments, with many homes that have recently closed escrows, are closer in price between the two. Also, I found in my sample, that the Realtor.com estimate was often the higher of the two, but neither can be relied on to be accurate.

Zillow and Realtor.com are data points. Sometimes they are right, but too often they are wrong, and sometimes wildly wrong — algorithms — love ‘em for the smiles they bring to me.

But as a prospective seller, depending on either for home valuations may cost you a pile of cold hard cash if it’s low, or influence you to list your home unrealistically high.

For buyers trying to make a decision on whether to go forward on a purchase or not, skewed online estimates can affect your decision as well.

Seriously, they are no substitute for the professional Realtor’s eyes on the property. If you know a Realtor who you trust personally and is a real expert in the profession, listen to them.


As professionals, we do have your best interests at heart when it comes to one of the largest financial transactions you will ever make.

Ray the Realtor Kutylo and the SCV Home Team can be contacted at 661-312-9461

CA DRE 00918855

MLS Disclaimer (required)

Based on information from the Southland Regional Association of REALTORS®/Multiple Listing Service for the week ending on 9/28/18. All data, including all measurements and calculations of area, is obtained from various sources and has not been, and will not be, verified by broker or MLS. All information should be independently reviewed and verified for accuracy. Properties may or may not be listed by the office/agent presenting the information.

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