The Zillow Zestimate: Can it be Trusted? (2023)

If you've ever used, you've probably encountered the Zillow Zestimate. Just how accurate is the Zestimate - and is it a good idea to sell with Zillow? Here's what you need to know.

So what, exactly, is the Zillow Zestimate? This is Zillow’s proprietary home valuation tool, which can deliver an online estimate of value for most homes in the U.S. It relies on both public and user-submitted data, and its accuracy is partially dependent on just how much relevant data is publicly accessible. Some homes, for example, may have an unknown number of bedrooms - which impacts Zillow’s ability to price it accurately.

There’s a few terms that are important to understand:

  • Estimated home value: an approximate amount your home would sell for, based on what other, similar properties have recently sold for.
  • True market value: what people are actually willing to pay for a home.
  • List price/asking price: this amount is set by the homeowner, on the advice of their agent. It may or may not reflect the true market value.

Because homes on the market have more info publicly available, their Zillow Zestimates tend to be a more accurate reflection of value than homes that are off market (such as yours, perhaps).

Zestimate launched in 2011 and was quickly an industry game changer. Its inception has been both welcomeand controversial.

Zestimate was embraced by consumers, because it allows them to gain valuable information about their home’s worth with a single click. Before, this process may have involved identifying a lot of individual data points and talking to a local Realtor. Now, homeowners can do a quick, casual check on their home’s value every month if they want.

However, Zestimate has also been controversial, because it’s not an appraisal - but consumers often treat it like one, which can lead to a misunderstanding of how much their home is really worth. These misunderstandings can have real-world consequences if consumers misprice their homes. But more on this below.

The Zestimate is often less accurate than your Realtor's estimate and can be thousands of dollars off. According to Zillow’s Zestimate page, “The nationwide median error rate for the Zestimate for on-market homes is 1.9%, while the Zestimate for off-market homes has a median error rate of 7.5%. This means that the Zestimates for half of all on-market homes are within 2% of the selling price, and half are not.”

This may seem like a negligible percentage - and for some homes, it is.

However, take the example of a home with a true value of $600,000. If the Zestimate is 7.5% off, the home Zestimate could be as high as $645,000 or as low $561,000. And 7.5% is only the U.S. median - in a market like Pittsburgh, where the median error rate is 11.3%, the Zestimate range jumps from $532,200 to $667,800 for a $600,000 home - a range of over $100,000.

According to Real Estate Decoded, this breaks down to a typical error of $18,000 for an unlisted home.

The Zillow Zestimate: Can it be Trusted? (1)

Duvora's 2019 case study “Exactly How Bad Are Zillow “Zestimates?” samples three homes per city in three major cities (Chicago, New York, Los Angeles). The study, which selected homes at random, indicated just how wide this range could really be. For homes in LA, the Zestimate was fairly accurate - hovering close to -5% for all homes. The New York homes, though, were all dramatically undervalued by the Zestimate.

The author of the case study concluded that one issue was that the Zestimate, due to its reliance on comparables (past sales), often can’t pick up on the rapid price surges that happen in a seller’s market (which won’t necessarily be reflected in past sales).

Here is how an example home fared in each market:

  • Chicago: Sold -9.45% below Zestimate
  • New York: Sold +60.07% above Zestimate
  • Los Angeles: Sold -4.9% below Zestimate

So: while the Zestimate can give homeowners an idea of very basic worth, it can also be pretty misleading.

Many homeowners worry that when the Zillow Zestimate is such a widely used tool by homebuyers, a lower Zestimate can adversely affect their ability to sell their home. After all - if a buyer thinks your home is worth $200,000 after visiting Zillow, it’s going to be harder to convince them to pay your asking price of $240,000. (There was even a Zillow Zestimate lawsuitby homeowners for this reason - but the court sided with Zillow.)

So how can you update the Zestimate?

  • The first thing you should do is register with Zillow and claim your property. Once you’ve verified your identity, you’ll be able to edit information like how many bedrooms you have, remodeling details, etc.
  • Zillow uses public tax records as the basis of off-market Zestimates, so having your home appraised - and therefore updating the public tax records - will ultimately impact the Zestimate.

If you can, it’s a good idea to double check your Zestimate before you go to sell so you can work to resolve any inaccuracies, since it may take time for these changes to be reflected in the Zestimate price.

You know now that the Zestimate can be off sometimes: what factors play into this? It turns out, there’s a few big ones.

"Zillow can't see inside your home, they don't know what features it has, they don't take into account upgrades you may have, and it doesn't take into account your neighborhood versus another neighborhood in the same zip code," explainsBaltimore-based listing agentJune Piper-Brandon.

Consider how relevant these are to your home and neighborhood:

Home improvements

According to a 2019 report from Trulia, about 90% of homeowners surveyed planned to do a home renovation - with the bathroom and kitchen being the most cited projects. Our “Should You Renovate Before Selling?” guide has more specific information on important metrics like ROI - but in general, these projects add value to your home. Projects like bathrooms and kitchens, though, often don’t require permits - which means the Zillow Zestimate won’t be automatically taking them into account.

Housing turnover

Hot neighborhoods are easier to price than neighborhoods with slow turnovers, since recently sold homes mean more comparables.

The Neighborhood

Zillow often can't break down data street by street - since comp. homes might be further away - yet most homeowners are aware that some streets fare better than others on the housing market, especially in dense urban neighborhoods.

The Algorithm

Zillow is constantly adjusting the algorithm it uses to determine the Zestimate. Remember, it’s a computer that decided this - not a person. You may see your Zestimate go up or down over time when Zillow updates how it weighs different data points in the algorithm.

The Zillow Zestimate: Can it be Trusted? (2)

Piper-Brandon explains all this at greater length:

"Zillow will take all the homes in a zip code and bundle them together, and then average all the single family homes with about 1,500 square feet and 3 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms together - and that's the value they give.

So, for example in 21060, a zip code in Anne Arundel County, they will take a 1032 square foot rancher - some have a basement, some don't, but Zillow doesn't differentiate and one street is really nice with desirable homes, one has several distressed properties and the homes aren't as well kept but again - Zillow doesn't differentiate.

So, your home is on the nicer block, but the value will be lower because it is compared to others on a worse block, whereas the ones on the worse block are higher but in fact the value is lower and less desirable. That's why you need a Realtor that is familiar with the demographics and dynamics of the community, rather than a computer on the other side of the country."

As any experienced Realtor can tell you, emotions influence how we buy and sell homes. Fall in love with a great house that you “have to have,” and it’s harder to make logical financial decisions when it comes time to bid. Similarly, if you believe the Zestimate to be more or less accurate - only to have a professional appraisal indicate your home is worth far less - you may struggle to feel good about the selling process.

Confirmation bias also means that people are more inclined to believe data that backs their beliefs - and it’s well-known in the real estate industry that people often believe their homes are worth more than they actually are. Even if you know there’s a possibility that the Zestimate has overestimated your home by thousands of dollars, because it matches your belief about your home, it can unduly influence you to treat the Zestimate as “accurate.”

You may even overprice your home with the hopes of obtaining the Zestimate number, and fall into the trap of having fewer interested buyers - which means staying on the market longer, and eventually having to discount the price.

Understanding your home’s true market value can help you decide whether, and when, to sell. Here’s a few ways you can better understand your home’s value.

  • Make use of competing home value tools available through Redfin,, and Trulia. According to Marketplace, Redfin’s estimation tool is more accurate for homes on the market.
  • Take a closer look at the comparable homes that have sold in your area. Since you know your neighborhood and the general condition of some of the homes there, it may be easier to see that Zillow’s Zestimate prices your home the same as your neighbor’s - but you know you’ve updated the kitchen, installed a new HVAC system, and taken out the outdated carpeting, and they haven’t.
  • Talk to an experienced local agent, who can view your home and give you a knowledgeable and more precise estimate of what your home is worth.

Talk to a Houwzer agent about your home's worth

You may have heard that Zillow buys homes from homeowners. In 2021, however, Zillow decided to shutterthe iBuyer side of its business - meaning that you can no longer sell a home to Zillow directly (though many of its competitors still exist).

This was big news, especially because Zillow was using its own Zestimate to make offers - but the tool was too out-of-line with the actual value of homes for it to be a successful business model for them. In other words, Zillow's own failure to launch in the i-Buyer space only highlighted the potential inaccuracy of their Zestimate tool.

If you decide to work with an alternative i-Buying company, here's what you should keep in mind:

  • You may get to skip dealing with buyers, but there's often no discount: most i-Buyer companies charge you extra for the convenience.A typical seller might paya 6% agent fee, 1-2% closing costs, a 3% service charge, and deductions for repairs.
  • Homes sold to iBuyer companies tend to net owners less profit than they would on the open market, precisely because there is no competition or negotiation; you either accept the price they offer, or you can’t sell a home to them.
  • However, selling with iBuyerscan be a good option for homeowners who are dealing with distressed property, inherited property, or an extreme time crunch that makes it more appealing to quickly sell a home - rather than focusing on making the most profit from the sale.

If all you’re looking for is seamless communication and a less stressful real estate experience, though, modern brokerages like Houwzer are usually a better option. Experienced agents can guide you through the process, while also making sure you net the most profit possible from your sale.

For further reading

  • Is Zillow Trustworthy? Everything You Need to Know
  • Should I Buy a House in Spring 2023 or Wait?
  • Can the Redfin Estimate be Trusted? What Home Sellers Need to Know


Should I trust Zillow Zestimate? ›

Share: Zillow's Zestimate has been found to have a nationwide error rate of 1.9 percent for on-market homes. When it comes to estimating home values for off-market housing, the error rate jumps to 6.9 percent. Overall, Zestimate accuracy is between 95% and 96%, so it's pretty accurate in most cases.

How accurate is the zestimate? ›

The Zestimate is often less accurate than your Realtor's estimate and can be thousands of dollars off. According to Zillow's Zestimate page, “The nationwide median error rate for the Zestimate for on-market homes is 1.9%, while the Zestimate for off-market homes has a median error rate of 7.5%.

What do I do if my Zillow Zestimate is wrong? ›

However, the Redfin Estimate and the Zillow Zestimate aren't always accurate.
What to Do If Your Home Value Is Listed Inaccurately
  1. Update Your Home Facts. ...
  2. Review Your Home's Tax History and Sales Prices. ...
  3. Contact Customer Service If Necessary.

What is the most accurate home value estimator? ›

Zillow home value estimates are often considered the most accurate; however, this depends on the location and available data. Known as 'Zestimates,' they have a national median error rate of 7.5 percent for off-market homes and 1.9 percent for listed homes.

How accurate is Zillow zestimate to appraisal? ›

How accurate is the Zestimate? The nationwide median error rate for the Zestimate for on-market homes is 2.4%, while the Zestimate for off-market homes has a median error rate of 7.49%. The Zestimate's accuracy depends on the availability of data in a home's area.

Do appraisers look at Zestimate? ›

“Come take a look at this incredible value, under-priced a hundred thousand below assessed value.” The assumption the agent would have you believe is that the assessed value is the market value. Sorry, guys, it isn't! House appraisers also do not look at the Zillow value of your home either!

Can Realtors manipulate zestimate? ›

How do realtors manipulate Zillow? These Zestimates use a proprietary system for their calculations which is being widely manipulated by listing agents and homeowners to exaggerate the value of the majority of homes on Zillow.

Which is more accurate Zillow or Redfin? ›

Redfin's home value estimator is more accurate than Zillow's when it comes to pinpointing the sales price. According to Redfin, its estimates are approximately 74% accurate within 5% of the sales price for listed homes. By comparison, Zillow is only 67% accurate within 5% of the sale price for listed homes.

Does a zestimate matter? ›

Zestimate is the model that the online real estate company Zillow uses to produce an estimate (also called Zestimate) for the value of a home. Zestimates aren't exact valuations. They serve only to provide an idea of potential value for homeowners, buyers, and sellers.

How do I get my Zillow zestimate higher? ›

5 ways to improve your home's Zestimate on Zillow
  1. Claim your property. Your home's “Zestimate” is Zillow's best guess on market value. ...
  2. Make sure the square footage is correct. ...
  3. Consider for sale by owner. ...
  4. Add 3D home, download Zillow 3D home app and add a virtual tour. ...
  5. Email Zillow at this super-secret address.
Mar 13, 2021

Can zestimate be changed? ›

After you've claimed your home, you'll be able to edit the information that Zillow uses to create a Zestimate by navigating to your home's page on Zillow and toggling over to the home view. They include: Home type (single family, duplex, etc.) Number of bedrooms.

Why is Zillow zestimate so low? ›

If your home has more value-factors (bigger square footage, better condition, more amenities, etc) than the comparables that are pulled, then your Zestimate is likely to be lower than actual value.

How do I get a realistic value of my house? ›

For an accurate valuation, use a local estate agent

A local agent will have a better understanding of house prices in your neighbourhood, where even within the same postcode different streets (or even different ends of the same street) can command very different prices.

How do I get an accurate value of my home? ›

You can determine home value by using an online valuation tool, hiring an appraiser, using a real estate agent, or checking comparable homes in your area. Using an online valuation tool or pulling comps in your neighborhood is easy and quick, but you'll receive more accurate results using a REALTOR® or appraiser.

Is realtor com or Zillow more accurate? › is arguably the most accurate real estate listing platform today. It is affiliated with over 580 regularly updated MLS databases across the U.S. also operates in more regions than Zillow and Redfin simply because it's been around for longer, that is since 1996.

When appraisal comes in lower than offer? ›

If the purchase agreement contains an appraisal contingency, the buyer is protected in the case of a low appraisal. If the buyer can't get the seller to adjust the price or come up with the difference in cash, they can walk away from the sale with their earnest money deposit returned to them.

How often do appraisals come in low? ›

How often do home appraisals come in low? Low home appraisals do not occur often. According to Fannie Mae, appraisals come in low less than 8 percent of the time, and many of these low appraisals are renegotiated higher after an appeal, Graham says.

Can realtors hide zestimate? ›

'” Zillow's estimate of a residential property's “fair market value” which the lawsuit states they know “to be inaccurate,” have allowed “only select brokers to conceal the display of Zestimates on their listings to the exclusion of the general public.”

Do banks use Zillow for appraisals? ›

It's also important to note that automatic valuations such as a Zillow Zestimate are not used by banks or lenders to estimate a property's value for a mortgage. Only an appraisal from a licensed appraiser can be used for a mortgage.

What not to say to an appraiser? ›

Just keep your communication to the appraiser about the facts of the home and neighborhood, how you priced the house, and any other relevant information you think the appraiser should know. And remember, don't discuss value. Don't pressure the appraiser to 'hit the value' and you'll be fine.

Does cleanliness affect a home appraisal? ›

The short answer is “no, a messy home should not affect the outcome of an appraisal.” However, it's good to be aware that there are circumstances in which the state of your home can negatively affect its value. Let's go over what appraisals entail and what factors can influence them.

Can a zestimate be removed? ›

No, but you can update your home facts and fix any incorrect or incomplete information to ensure that your Zestimate is as accurate as possible. If you update your home facts, you may not see your Zestimate change immediately.

Why does my zestimate keep going up? ›

And if a Zestimate updates after a home is listed, she added, that is typically because the Zestimate factors in new property data made available by the listing (e.g. square footage, waterfront views) — not the list price itself.

Which home selling site is most accurate? › is affiliated with the National Association of Realtors and uses MLS listings which are sourced from around 580 regional databases and considered the gold standard for quality listings.6 For this reason, is our pick for most accurate real estate website.

How accurate is realtor home value? ›

The fact that major online calculators may be working from incomplete data means that home value estimates may be off. But it isn't by much. Redfin strives to deliver estimates that are within 3% or less of a home's selling price. Zillow even goes as far as to list their median error for top housing markets.

Do people use Redfin or Zillow? ›

Zillow is the most popular home buying website because it's available throughout the U.S. and includes lots of details on off market properties, while the Redfin app only displays listings in select markets. However, better options exist if you're looking for a low cost realtor or want to earn a home buyer rebate.

Do pictures affect zestimate? ›

Real estate tech giant Zillow on Thursday announced what it says is a significant update to its signature online home valuation tool, the Zestimate, saying the technology can now scan photos and use them to help determine a home's estimated value.

What is Zestimate based off of? ›

The Zestimate is calculated through a Zillow algorithm that crunches data from public property records, tax records, recent home sales in the area, and user-submitted information to come up with an approximate market value for a home.

Is Zillow a trusted site? ›

Zillow has been around for years, and it's become a trusted source for buyers, sellers, and real estate professionals. As a result, Zillow is one of the most popular sites for listing a home for sale or rent.

Why is my house worth less than my neighbors? ›

Here are some potential reasons your home value is lower than you expect: Your house doesn't compare to others in your neighborhood. Your home is near undesirable landmarks. You overimproved your house.

What is the Zillow scandal? ›

By spring of 2021, the market had overheated to a point where Zillow's much-lauded algorithm, the backbone of its home-flipping strategy, was struggling to make accurate pricing predictions. Believing its own inflated numbers, say analysts, the company began overpaying for homes all across the country.

Can you negotiate with Zillow offers? ›

No, Zillow Offers says it makes its best offer upfront. If you want to negotiate with buyers and choose from multiple offers, you'll need to list the home on the open market.

Why is my house losing value on Zillow? ›

Zillow values homes based on an algorithm. When the algorithm changes, your estimate will likely change too. Zillow changes its algorithm frequently, with consistent small updates and occasional major updates.

Should I update my home info on Zillow? ›

Public records can be outdated or lag behind what homeowners and real estate agents know about a property, so it's best to update your home facts and fix any incorrect or incomplete information — this will help make your Zestimate as accurate as possible.

Do estate agents overvalue? ›

Therefore, some (not all), but some estate agents will feed on a homeowner's appetite to get the highest possible price for their home by giving them an over-inflated suggested asking price to market their property at (i.e. 'overvaluing').

Are house prices going to drop? ›

As rates normalise, buyers will increasingly recalculate their financial position and house prices will come under pressure. We expect a 10% decline over the next two years, taking them back to where they were in mid-2021.”

How do I make my house look expensive for valuation? ›

11 ways to make your home look more expensive
  1. Add moulding and panelling. ...
  2. Hang art on the walls. ...
  3. DIY your own custom fittings. ...
  4. Replace fixtures. ...
  5. Highlight architectural features. ...
  6. Add a large rug. ...
  7. Use neutral walls. ...
  8. Use big mirrors.
Nov 23, 2020

How do you know if a home has good resale value? ›

Here are five indicators that a home has good resale value.
  • The home is situated in a sought-after location. ...
  • The schools are well-regarded. ...
  • The curb appeal is there. ...
  • The floor plan works for a broad pool of buyers. ...
  • The neighborhood is considered safe and quiet.
Oct 12, 2020

What makes property value increase? ›

The basic law of supply and demand have a major effect on the housing market. Simply put, as the housing supply decreases or as demand rises, creating an inventory shortage, home values go up.

Does yard affect appraisal? ›

The curb appeal and general landscaping of the home also impacts the home appraisal value. If your home lacks curb appeal it could lower the value of the home. On the other hand if your yard is filled with hard to care for plants and a hazardous dead tree this could also negatively affect your home appraisal value.

Can Zillow prices be trusted? ›

Share: Zillow's Zestimate has been found to have a nationwide error rate of 1.9 percent for on-market homes. When it comes to estimating home values for off-market housing, the error rate jumps to 6.9 percent. Overall, Zestimate accuracy is between 95% and 96%, so it's pretty accurate in most cases.

How do banks determine home value? ›

To calculate appraised value, a licensed appraiser considers the location, size and condition of your home, and any renovations you've completed. The appraised value is what mortgage lenders look at when a borrower buys a home or refinances their mortgage.

Is MLS better than Zillow? ›

If you are able to view the MLS in your area online directly, you will only see properties that are currently active on the market. This makes the MLS more accurate than Zillow, which frequently keeps properties listed as available long after they have been taken off the market.

Can you trust Zillow listings? ›

Conclusion: Can We Trust Zillow? Zillow is fine for what it is: one tool of many that homebuyers can use as they begin their search. However, it should never be used as a substitute for due diligence and research.

Is Zillow a credible site? ›

Zillow has been around for years, and it's become a trusted source for buyers, sellers, and real estate professionals. As a result, Zillow is one of the most popular sites for listing a home for sale or rent.

Can you change the zestimate on Zillow? ›

How to change your Zestimate. One of the easiest ways to change your Zesimate is by editing your home's facts on the site. A real appraiser will look at the features of your home to decide it's worth. Now you can update your home facts in Zillow to reflect some of the things an appraisal would typically show.

How do I find out what my house is worth? ›

You can determine home value by using an online valuation tool, hiring an appraiser, using a real estate agent, or checking comparable homes in your area. Using an online valuation tool or pulling comps in your neighborhood is easy and quick, but you'll receive more accurate results using a REALTOR® or appraiser.

Is Zillow or Trulia more accurate? ›

How Accurate Are Trulia Estimates? Trulia Estimates are identical to Zillow Zestimates because both websites use the same data. The only difference is that Zillow Zestimates show both on-market and off-market properties, but Trulia only shows off-market estimates.

Is it safe to give Zillow your Social Security number? ›

We take the security of our users' information seriously. We intentionally limit the amount of sensitive data we store, and we use multiple layers of security to keep your data safe. Additionally, we continually review and update our practices to stay on top of evolving threats.

Is Zillow under investigation? ›

13, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Former Attorney General of Louisiana, Charles C. Foti, Jr., Esq., a partner at the law firm of Kahn Swick & Foti, LLC ("KSF"), announces that KSF has commenced an investigation into Zillow Group, Inc. (NasdaqGS: Z).

Should I correct Zillow information? ›

Incorrect information on your Zillow listing can also lead to confusion and ultimately, lost business. That's why it's important to make sure all your property information is up-to-date on the home details page. Luckily, correcting your information on Zillow is easy. Read our helpful guide on how to do it.

Which website is more accurate Zillow or realtor? ›

A Realtor estimate, or a Comparative Market Analysis, should be more accurate and more detailed than an online valuation tool like a Zestimate. There are several reasons for this. First, real estate agents who know a particular area will be intimately familiar with the comparable sales.

Why do people save homes on Zillow? ›

Zillow helps buyers and sellers by allowing users to click on a heart in the upper right hand corner of the listing to save — or favorite — the home. These saves can show sellers how their listing is doing, but saves don't always translate into showing appointments.

Is Zillow as good as MLS? ›

While Zillow has 50-80 fields of information and pictures about the properties, an average MLS has more than 300. That means Zillow provides limited information about a property. In contrast, an MLS includes all the market times, listing information, photos, unsuccessful listings that date 10 to 20 years back.


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