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Should I sell my home on Zillow? - 10 reasons why it's probably a bad idea

Updated: Feb 1

Since we live in a society that loves social media and technology, we are overwhelmed by loads of content. Anyone can post information online right now, and simply because something is trending does not mean it is accurate. As a result, we need to be conscious of the actual source of our information.


This article will serve as a review of Zillow. The real reason why this website exists and 10 reasons why it is probably a bad idea to sell your home on Zillow.


Keep reading.


More often than not, websites in real estate exist to extract your contact details. Quite frankly, they are huge traps formulated as a lead machine for Realtors. Websites like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com are all created with the primary role of creating (weak) leads for Realtors, ultimately generating revenue for the websites. Don’t forget that these are the same sites where most buyers start their home search and, of course, where sellers look to know their current home’s value. It causes a range of issues because of inaccurate data and false advertising.


Read on and learn why you should avoid using Zillow if you are interested in real estate.


What Is Zillow?


It would be important to know what Zillow is first.


Generally, this is a real estate resource that deals with posting property listings for sale or rent and offers your house's estimated market price value. The company was founded in 2006 and is located in Seattle, Washington. It is regarded as one of the most demanded and popular real estate platforms when it comes to real estate databases. Primarily, it focuses on helping home sellers in their rental listings and qualified listing agents. With the assistance of algorithms and living databases, it aims to reconceptualize the real estate scene— to renting, selling, buying, advertising, financing, etc.


Zillow provides free home listing for FSBO or property listing for rent when it comes to real estate web traffic. In general, the company prides itself on the mobile real estate app, such as its advanced search tools that allow customers to find houses and view “Zestimate” property values for free.


But how useful is this site? Why does it really exist? Why shouldn’t you consider it?


Here are 10 reasons why it would be a bad idea to sell your home on Zillow.


1. Bigger Does Not Mean Better


Undoubtedly, you’d want to get the most relevant information possible when searching through the internet for real estate. Generally speaking, most people tend to assume that because Zillow is the most popular platform in real estate, they‘re the ideal place to find properties online. It would be sad to break it down to you that Zillow has lots of outdated real estate listings.


In fact, this has been a common complaint from Real Estate Brokers for many years – but Zillow Group's significant marketing budget has drowned out their complaints. Most of the houses for sale that Zillow displays as Active have probably expired, been sold, or perhaps even listed with another real estate agent. Apart from the many incorrect listings, the site has large holes when it comes to its listing database. And since they do not possess all of the listings, it means that Zestimate is mostly woefully inaccurate when it comes to property values.


Most home sellers depend on the information offered by Zillow to price their property and acquire some knowledge on the actual level of competition that they’ll be up against. It wouldn’t be a surprise to find a home seller throwing up a Zestimate to a prospective listing agent when talking about their home’s true value.


The truth is that Zillow themselves have reported that their Zestimate is only accurate in 20% of the total sales price 83.1% of the time! And this is for the homes that ARE within that 20%. Do you see how inaccurate this is for the 16.9% of houses nationwide that basically fall OUTSIDE of this 83.1%? For this reason, Zillow is regularly being sued and attacked by Realtors and the real estate community because of their gross inaccuracy.


2. Buyers’ Agents Might Not Want To Show Your House To Their Clients

Quite frankly, once a Realtor sees somebody selling a house on Zillow, we all know there isn’t an expert on the other side of that transaction. This can be frustrating for everybody. FSBO sellers are at times considered unreasonable, unrealistic, and usually challenging to work with. Ensure that you cooperate with buyers’ agents to combat that, and this will include paying a commission. Selling your home on Zillow requires no fees, and, therefore, the expenses are still less compared to a traditional sale.


If you are looking to get the best and highest price on your listing in today’s market, you should focus on increasing exposure to real estate agents working with homebuyers. Almost 90% of active homebuyers work with an agent. Then, why wouldn’t you consider them? The real question you should ask yourself is whether the enhanced exposure on listing with an agent will be more considerable than the percentage of commission charged.


Besides that, you would most likely be incurring a buyer’s agent commission anyway. Therefore, what you’re actually saving when selling your house on Zillow by the owner is approximately less than 3% of the sales cost.


3. Inaccurate Information


Yes, this again! Let’s expound on this factor.

For Buyers: As previously stated, most of the properties listed on Zillow might not be for sale. You might be intrigued and well-prepared to buy a property you see on Zillow, with information showing the house is currently for sale and has been on the market for nearly a month, only to find out that the house is already sold.


Another way that this site can offer inaccurate information is via the agent listed with that property. Most likely, you might think this is the “seller’s agent” or the “listing agent”. Wrong! It’s often associated with a paying Realtor client of Zillow. Quite frankly, this is misleading advertising and taking advantage of homeowners. A simple post on your social media platform asking for a qualified local Realtor will most likely get you better results! So rather than opting for a vast online real estate database such as Zillow, turn to family and friends.

For Sellers: Now, let’s look at this other side. Zestimates are basically Zillow’s algorithm-created appraisals. Typically, they offer people a standard estimate of the value of a particular property. However, Zestimates are rarely accurate. John Wake, an economist, thinks that the standard Zillow Zestimate error is about $14,000. This could be $14,000 too low or $14,000 too high. And it becomes worse because 50% of the time, Zillow Zestimates tend to be off by significantly more than $14,000.


Besides, how can they even be accurate when there is a wide range of factors to establish how much a property is worth. Since no two homes are the same, this makes it rather challenging for a computer to establish its value. Zillow implements a computer-generated algorithm that relies on what has sold in that area, the number of bedrooms, and the square footage. The basics. They do not have inspectors looking into each property, ensuring that their data is precise. That is the only way you can establish a property’s value. Yet, you will still find many sellers turning to Zillow when they begin thinking about how to put their homes on the market.


4. It’s NOT Your Full-Time Job


Emails, text messages, phone calls, and scheduling showings – a lot is involved when it comes to selling your house on Zillow or anywhere else. If you have a full-time job elsewhere, the numerous tasks involved might become more of a challenge than the actual cost of hiring an expert. A qualified Realtor will deal with all of those tasks for you, and any others, ensuring that your house has the best exposure on the market.


For instance, for homeowners planning to sell their homes themselves, getting clients into that property as a realtor can be very challenging! The sellers might not be available to show the home. It might end up with the realtor and the buyer not seeing anything at all, and the clients might buy something else. In short, what you must understand is that you never know when an interested buyer will want the next showing. That means that you need to be always available to take advantage of this. If you are not available to show, it will only enhance the overall market time of a house, which is something you want to avoid.


5. Real Estate Is Local


It might be a nice idea to have one large website that you can use for searching all of the available houses for sale in the US; Zillow seems to fall short. Don’t forget that Real Estate is still local! So, what does this mean? When you are ready to sell or buy real estate, you’ll still find yourself with a local REALTOR. Searching for real estate on the internet should be local as well.


Regardless if you are looking for houses for sale in Spokane, Washington, or searching for properties in its neighborhood, you can expect to see all of those listings. You can only get this from a local real estate broker because they have direct access to all listings’ full listing database. Even if you go searching for local listings on this platform, they’re selling your contact details back to a local agent once you request additional information. And why would you avoid working with a local agent instead?

6. It Is Much Difficult to Separate Your Emotions From the Transaction

Have you ever listed the most stressful moments you’ve experienced in your life? You must have realized that buying and selling a house appears on that list. Turning to an agent rather than selling your property on Zillow may help shield you from the emotional lows and highs all through the transaction. Overzealous follow-up, repeated rejections, and perhaps lack of interest from prospective buyers might harm your everyday life. Hiring an advocate such as a Realtor who is skilled to handle these issues can make the transition a lot easier.


When the buyers come in, they will want to change most of the things you admired in your house. Perhaps they’d look forward to tearing down the wall that you used to measure your kids on. It would be prudent not to allow such memories to get the most of you, particularly in negotiations. Just think of it like you had your time, and now it is somebody else’s turn. Since it is a crucial business decision, you need to remain focused on your next transition’s numbers to create new memories.


7. Unwanted Communication


There's a high likelihood for consumer's information to be shared with many agents. Once you input your details into an online real estate database, simply expect your phone to begin buzzing. The property you simply wanted to know something about has now caused you several hours of annoying calls, emails, and texts from different Realtors. And when you find a persistent agent…this might last for months.


Are you working with a Realtor? Then, most likely, they have set you up with this home search. And it might still be tempting to visit Zillow. And you might see houses that match your specific criteria, and the cost is appealing! However, why haven’t you received this from your Realtor? Sadly, the listing is likely, not accurate or even available at all. More often than not, Realtors will set you up with MLS’ home searches. The Multiple Listing Service will be the most updated home search you can find, and it will come straight from a Realtor. Once you have an MLS search set up through a Realtor, you’ll know the houses in your search will undoubtedly be on the market. What’s more, if you set up your home search with a Realtor, they’ll be the only one calling you!


8. The Method In Which Zillow Gets Its Listings


Internet Data Exchange, or IDX, is basically an agreement made between all local real estate brokers that enables them to show each other's listings on their sites. Local brokers and agents have direct access to this MLS. In most cases, a local broker or agent possesses a website, and they receive an IDX data feed straight from the MLS. Therefore, if you apply to a local real estate website, you’ll see all listings available when looking for houses.

In general, Zillow receives listings on its website in an array of different ways. In most cases, they rely on the individual broker or agent to send these listings to them. More often than not, that might mean that an agent should manually input all data fields for every listing. If the house gets a price decrease or gets sold, the agent should log back into the website and update the property data.


Now you can see why most of the properties on Zillow are priced incorrectly or are no longer active. Sometimes, they do receive data feeds straight from the broker - for that broker’s listings only. That means all brokers should set up a feed to Zillow, and this generally does not occur.


Lastly, although rarely, the MLS might syndicate every listing in a particular area. However, that is somewhat rare since some brokers don’t want ALL of their listings shown on Zillow. For example, in case an agent takes a particular Posh Real Estate listing from a famous individual, it wouldn’t be a surprise to find that they won’t like their private house displayed for the entire world to see.


9. Negotiations Suck


If you possess a sales background, there is a high chance you don’t possess a real estate sales background – and this is an entirely different thing. Remember the emotions we talked about? This is when they actually come in to play. If you finally accept a particular offer, you’ll need to be ready to deal with:


· The buyer who wants the most suitable deal

· The buyer’s attorney

· The buyer’s agent who primarily represents the buyer’s best interest

· The appraiser in case there’s a question of value

· The home inspectors working for the buyer who will always do a bad thing with the house

· Your bank if there is a short sale


Although you are successful at selling your house on Zillow without a real estate agent, not only is it very possible, but it will also be quite a rewarding and affordable experience. However, you can compare this to winning the lottery – it can either be a huge accomplishment or an extremely expensive experience.


Quite frankly, nobody wants to buy the home that sat on the market for years. However, everyone wants to buy the house that everyone else wants to buy. If you can remember this and remain within these two extremes, you’ll do great and can receive top dollar for your property.

If you can “position” your property for sale within this quote, you’ll sell fast and for what you’re looking to sell it for.


10. Other National Real Estate Sites


Generally speaking, there are numerous other national real estate sites available. Trulia is the #2 website in the country, and guess who owns it? Yep…Zillow themselves! Trulia is accompanied by similar issues that Zillow possesses for having all of the listings. Realtor.com is one of the national real estate sites that get nearly all of the listings. Because the National Association of REALTORS manages them, they often receive a direct information feed from the local board.


One other thing you should consider is that a majority of the national real estate sites will structure your home search results depending on who is paying them. What's more, Realtor.com sells ads back to real estate brokers and agents to generate revenue solely. It also means you might see "featured listings" first by agents or brokers with whom these websites have connections before you can actually see the properties in their natural order.


Another crucial point to remember is that agents have a more thorough marketing strategy than you will.


Being the number 1 real estate website, Zillow.com averages over 30 million unique visits every month. With this in mind, any good marketing plan requires to include that website. However, what other methods are there apart from selling your house on Zillow? For starters, there is Trulia.com, which Zillow recently introduced. Another popular place for sellers to advertise homes for sale is on Craigslist. You'll need to contact an agent to use realtor.com, Yahoo! Real Estate, and Redfin since these websites extract data directly from the MLS. Furthermore, agents have exclusive access to the best marketing packages.


Although selling your property on Zillow sounds like the ideal place to begin, it would be best to take this advice if you decide to hire a qualified person. There is a huge difference in who you choose. This might be harsh to say that some of the agents out there don’t have a solid marketing plan. It’s more important than ever nowadays to find the right agent to sell your house. And you’ve already learned that most agents will list your property on the MLS and then install a sign in the yard. Since this is not a marketing plan, hiring a real estate marketing company rather than selling your home through a traditional real estate agent would be prudent.


The crucial part of successfully marketing your house for sale is how it is positioned in the actual marketplace.


Wrapping Up


Expect a lower sales cost if you sell your house on Zillow. You might save on the agent’s listing commission, but the problem is that you are falling below your home’s fair market value. FSBO might mean losing huge loads of money than opting for a full-rated standard agent.


You’ve read the top reasons why you shouldn’t sell on Zillow. However, what’s the best alternative? Sell your house to Home Front. You’ll save thousands at closing but still get the expertise of a professional agent. Leave the troublesome property to us!


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