Zillow Zestimates in Big Bear, CA…Are they reliable?

Zillow Zestimates

Zillow Zestimates

With the power of the internet to lead the way, over 90 percent of homebuyers begin their search there. For buyers there is a veritable ocean of information, tons of pictures, virtual tours, even GPS mapping information to take you directly to your next new home.

For a Realtor, this can be a great way to market a listing and get the word out to the masses so that you can sell your Sellers property in the fastest amount of time.  But for a Realtor, Zillow can easily be a detriment. You see, sites like Zillow, Trulia and the like offer what is called an “automated valuation model” a fancy way to estimate the current market value of a home.  They do it by scrubbing all the details of the property through very sophisticated algorithms to predict value. On the surface it seems like a great idea but if you take certain things into perspective, you will see why it’s important not to take the “Zestimate” number seriously. First of all, let’s talk about what Zillow doesn’t know. It doesn’t know that you gutted and remodeled your kitchen to the tune of $50,000 or that you added $8000 worth of wood flooring.  Talk about leaving money on the table!  Those are pretty serious unknowns but most importantly, Zillow doesn’t know neighborhoods. Neighborhoods? Huh, what do you mean, Kim?

Let me explain:  In Big Bear, we have neighborhoods or areas/enclaves called Moonridge (near Big Bear Mountain Ski Resort), Castle Glen (Luxury homes), Boulder Bay (Old Big Bear charm near the lake), Sugarloaf (Adorable cottages/cabins surrounded by National Forest land, boasting the best fried chicken), Erwin Lake (Equestrian properties and smaller cozy cabins), Big Bear City (a locals neighborhood) and Lake Williams (Acreage and views!).  All of these are within Big Bear Valley but Zillow doesn’t know that. Zillow takes the properties that have sold throughout our whole valley and they put those numbers through their algorithms. If you own a lakefront home on the West Side near Boulder Bay, Zillow is using comparables across the valley including the East End of the valley to determine your value. Likewise, if you live on the East End of the valley, you might notice that Zillow is giving you a higher price on your home than what your real estate agent is telling you. Well that is because the lakefront home that sold for $3 million is factored into the algorithm which adds to the values across the board.

If I had a dollar for every time I had to tell a Seller why he/she shouldn’t take those Zillow Zestimates to heart, I could supplement my Starbucks expenses for the rest of my life!  Ok, maybe for a whole month.   The bottom line is that you don’t have to worry, because if you call TEAM BIG BEAR REAL ESTATE for a comprehensive Market Analysis on your property you won’t have any problems figuring out the REAL honest to goodness value of your hard-earned investment. We can provide detailed comparables from our local MLS to help you understand the value of your investment property. It’s tempting to take the values on Zillow seriously, but if you are aware of the inaccuracies because you spoke to someone who knows the Big Bear real estate market, you will eliminate feeling confused and disappointed when the prices reflected on the Zillow website do not match the price your Realtor tell you!

~Kim Boda


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