This Is Why Relying on Zillow Is a Bad Idea

Don’t let this happen to you!

The ad was captivating. It grabbed your attention and pulled you in, but don’t fall for it.

There are several reasons people go to Zillow, but here is proof that you shouldn’t make any important decisions based on what you find there.

  1. Buyers are looking for homes
  2. Sellers are confirming the value for a list price
  3. Buyers are confirming the value before making an offer
  4. Folks are “checking out” a potential real estate agent
  5. Pictures, maps, neighborhood info

The dirty low down:

Number 5 is easy: Zillow harvests photos and data from numerous sources and provides it for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy it. Even if the photos are not current, you aren’t going to make too big of a mistake just from looking at them.

Number 1 is also easy: Not everything you see on Zillow is actually available for sale. There are dozens of reasons why properties are shown when they aren’t for sale. This company exists solely to lure viewers and collect information to sell to real estate agents. The data doesn’t have to be accurate; it just has to be attractive.

Numbers 2 and 3 can be lumped together. Value. Zestimate. Automated Valuation. Pricing. Whatever you want to call it, you can’t trust it. It is wrong. My blog Your Home Valuation is Wrong from July 30, 2018 goes into more detail. https://jimsweat.wordpress.com/2018/07/30/your-home-valuation-is-wrong/

Number 4 can be a real problem. It’s a problem for the buyers and sellers, and also for the real estate agents. I sell two or three times as much real estate as the average agent, but you can’t tell that from looking at Zillow. They say that I have not sold anything in the last 17 months. https://jimsweat.wordpress.com/2018/09/20/really-zillow-again/

Yes, I can go in and manually update it, but that doesn’t mean it will be accurate next week. Here today, gone tomorrow is reality with these guys.

They were happy to use my photos, my descriptions and marketing remarks on my listings they used as “bait” to attract potential buyer and seller leads, but when those homes sold, Zillow conveniently “forgot” to credit me with the sale.

Blog post January 16, 2015 titled Real Estate Misinformation and Extortion tells how after 20 years in real estate, Zillow showed me completing 2 (two) total transactions. Two. After I had been a full time licensed real estate professional for twenty years! I had owned a real estate company part of that time. I had obtained my ABR, CRS, GRI, CDPE, e-PRO and ILHM designations – many of which require a certain level of production to qualify. But the big gorilla of real estate information credited me with two sales!

https://jimsweat.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/real-estate-misinformation-and-extortion/

You can’t make this stuff up!

And again:

My blog post Boom! Yes That Was My Head Exploding! from August 6, 2015 tells when I found out Trulia and Zillow wiped my slate, again. After over 20 years as a full-time licensed real estate professional, part of which I was broker/owner of a real estate company, Trulia credited me with 1 (one) total career sale and Zillow showed me having 2 (two) sales in my entire career!

https://jimsweat.wordpress.com/2015/08/06/boom-yes-that-was-my-head-exploding/

You don’t have to make things up, they prove every day that danger lurks if you blindly follow.

The thing to remember is that Zillow exists purely to make money from real estate brokers. If they have decent information on the website, great. If not, it doesn’t matter as long as they can lure people there, collect the contact info, and sell them to an agent.

There are thousands of companies that do the same thing: provide real estate information for the sole purpose of collecting leads to sell to real estate agents. Zillow just happens to be the biggest, and therefore can do the most damage.

Zillow has some great ads: A wonderful mix of emotional heart-tugs and perceived factual data.

Too bad people make important life decisions based on the fake news and false information.

http://www.SweatSellsFlorida.com

All the Best!

Jim Sweat, ABR, CLHMS, CRS, CDPE, GRI, e-PRO, ILHM

Featured in Scene Magazine’s Men on the Scene 2016 issue

Author of REAL ESTATE CSI: CONTROVERSY, SECRETS, INSIGHT (coming soon)

Jim Sweat – Helping Buyers & Sellers Choose Wisely Since 1995 ™

Re/Max  Alliance Group

1314 E. Venice Ave, Venice, FL 34285

Mobile: 941-306-7384

http://myfloridahomesmls.com/JimSweat (Home Search)

https://jimsweat.wordpress.com/ (Blog)

www.linkedin.com/in/jimsweat (LinkedIn)

A Proven Professional Working for You!

23 Years Experience

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Your Home Valuation Is Wrong

Do not make any major decisions based on an online, automated home valuation. You could lose a lot of money. A lot.

How does a $60,000 loss on a $300,000 home sound to you? Ridiculous? Read on.

Of course you are going to look up the value before you make an offer on a home, or prior to selling your current place. Just remember, that number is almost guaranteed to be wrong.

If you make life-changing decisions based on bad information, then you’re jeopardizing your future.

How can I be so sure the information you get online isn’t correct? Because it is statistically unlikely, and most of the sites will even tell you so, in the fine print.

Does it matter which site you use? Not really. Some are better at guessing than others, but they all vary dramatically.

When determining value on a property I typically check ten different online valuation sites. Not because I think they “know” what the home is worth, but because the seller and potential buyers are checking these sites, and it’s better to know in advance what disinformation they are consuming.

Those values are all over the map!

For example, a home with a true market value of $300,000 might have automated valuations ranging from 225,000 to 375,000. That is a large margin of error!

What about the infamous Zillow Zestimate? This is the margin of error stated on their website as of July 26, 2018:

  • Nationwide, Zestimates are currently within 5% of the final sale price 52.9% of the time.
  • In the U.S. as a whole, Zestimates are currently within 10% of the final sale price 73.3% of the time.
  • Nationally, Zestimates are currently within 20% of the final sale price 85.8% of the time.

Let’s put this into real world numbers using the $300k actual value example.

Just over half of the time (52.9%) the Zestimate is within $15,000 (5%) of actual final sales price. That could be high or low, so a $30,000 swing from 285,000 to 315,000.

The Zestimate is within 10% on another 20.4% of homes. That means a $60,000 swing from 270,000 to 330,000. If the buyer believes the real value is 270,000 and the seller thinks it is 330,000… well it’s easy to see we now have a significant problem.

Another 12.5% of homes are within 20%. That produces a $120,000 range of value from 240,000 to 360,000! That is 40% of the actual value! You don’t want to make any decisions based on this information!

Zillow admits they are not even within 20% (high or low) on 14.2% of homes nationally.

Do you want to guess which group your Zestimate falls within? It’s a roll of the dice!

If you’re in the 52.9% group you could lose $15,000.

If you’re in the 20.4% group you could lose $30,000.

If you’re in the 12.5% group you could lose $60,000.

If you’re in the 14.2% group you could lose even more than that!

The last two groups comprise 26.7% of properties. That means you have a greater than 1 in 4 chance of losing $60,000 or more if you base your buying or selling decision on the information you obtained from the big gorilla of real estate data online.

This is a multi-billion dollar company that draws millions of people to the website each and every month. And I have the nerve to warn you against believing what you see in black and white on that website? Yes. That website and dozens of others. Pay attention.

The actual Zestimate, not the range of possibility, the actual published number on my personal residence has gone up and down over the last year $59,000. That is absurd. Home values don’t rise and fall with the wind, like the stock market.

Side note: Facebook stock is down 20% today. Your home doesn’t go on a roller coaster ride every month.

These robot valuations use raw sales data available from public records but they have a huge disadvantage: They have never been inside your home.

They don’t know if the flooring, kitchen cabinets and roof all need replaced, or if they were just completely updated. They can’t see the view; they don’t know if the comparative sales were well cared for or not; they can’t tell if the home next door is an eyesore or worse; they can’t hear the traffic from the highway that decreased the selling price on three of the comparable sales they are using.

The bottom line is you need a trustworthy professional to give you good information.

Contact a full-time, experienced and knowledgeable professional whom you trust to give you good advice so you can make the best decision for your family.

http://www.SweatSellsFlorida.com

All the Best!

Jim Sweat, ABR, CLHMS, CRS, CDPE, GRI, e-PRO, ILHM

Featured in Scene Magazine’s Men on the Scene 2016 issue

Author of REAL ESTATE CSI: CONTROVERSY, SECRETS, INSIGHT (coming soon)

Jim Sweat – Helping Buyers & Sellers Choose Wisely Since 1995 ™

Re/Max  Alliance Group

Mobile: 941-306-7384

http://myfloridahomesmls.com/JimSweat (Home Search)

https://jimsweat.wordpress.com/ (Blog)

www.linkedin.com/in/jimsweat (LinkedIn)

A Proven Professional Working for You!

23 Years Experience

When is the Best “Selling Season” in Florida?

Sell in Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Pros and Cons to One and All!

Skeptical Seller: Fall is the quietest season. Families aren’t travelling because the kids are in school. Snowbirds are still home; no good reason to be on the market in the fall, right?

Jim Sweat: You are correct that fall is the quietest tourist season. That means there are not as many showings for people who are just in town and bored. It is a great time to be available for serious buyers who want to have time to find, negotiate and close on their new home soon enough to be ready to occupy it during the snowbird tourist season. I currently have several buyers who are planning on finding their new home this fall.

Skeptical Seller: That’s nice, but I know that winter is our peak tourist season. It only makes sense for me to be on the market during the winter and then take it off if it doesn’t sell. 90 days or nothing.

Jim Sweat: Yes, winter is peak Season. You will have the most showings during the winter months because of it. Sometimes showings will be scheduled just because it isn’t a perfect beach day and tourists are curious about the town. A Realtor can be a great tour guide. You also have the most competition during peak Season. There may be more potential buyers, but there are definitely more homes for them to choose from. How are you going to make yours stand out in the most crowded field of the year?

Skeptical Seller: The snowbirds go back north in the spring, and spring breakers aren’t buying houses, so what’s the point of being on the market in the spring?

Jim Sweat: There are a number of sophisticated buyers who purposely wait until Season is over before they make offers on homes. They look while they are here during vacation, then go home and wait until sellers feel desperate. The sellers who think “90 or nothing” may be more flexible when the peak 90 days have passed. You also have some sellers taking homes off the market “after Season” so those buyers have fewer homes to choose from. It may be wise to have yours available.

Skeptical Seller: Okay, I can understand that. However, there can’t be any good reason to be on the market during the dog days of summer when it is hot out and rains almost every afternoon. Who is looking at homes during the worst months of the year?

Jim Sweat: Only the serious buyers look during the off season. It’s not the most pleasant time. They aren’t just here on vacation with nothing else to do. Many of the buyers who are looking during the summer have scheduled trips specifically to find a home. This gives them time to find, buy, and renovate before peak vacation season hits. You also have the least competition. Many sellers take their home off the market during the off season because they feel it is a lost cause. If the serious buyers are looking then, don’t you want them to find yours?

We had similar situations – but reversed seasons – when I was in Michigan. Some sellers didn’t want their home on the market during the winter months. “Just wait until summer when all of the tourists are in town.” My response: Only serious buyers are trudging through three feet of snow to look at houses. Do you want to clean your house for someone who is that serious, or for a never-ending parade of bored looky-loos who are on vacation and may or may not be that serious about actually buying a home?

Remember this: the majority of homes do not sell during their first listing period. The season you list may not be the season you sell. My personal track record is strong, but it defies the averages.

There are more important factors than the time of year. 35 Home Selling Mistakes to Avoid is an excerpt from the book I am currently writing. Wrong time of year is not one of the 35 reasons.

Bottom line: there are pros and cons to every time of year. You should work with an experienced, full-time, licensed real estate professional that can help you make the most of whatever season fits the timing in your life.

http://www.SweatSellsFlorida.com

All the Best!

Jim Sweat, ABR, CLHMS, CRS, CDPE, GRI, e-PRO, ILHM

Featured in Scene Magazine’s Men on the Scene 2016 issue

Author of REAL ESTATE CSI: CONTROVERSY, SECRETS, INSIGHT (coming soon)

Jim Sweat – Helping Buyers & Sellers Choose Wisely Since 1995 ™

Re/Max  Alliance Group

Mobile: 941-306-7384

http://myfloridahomesmls.com/JimSweat (Home Search)

https://jimsweat.wordpress.com/ (Blog)

www.linkedin.com/in/jimsweat (LinkedIn)

A Proven Professional Working for You!

22 Years Experience

Are You Serious? Then Get A Serious Agent.

Welcome to the blog of a serious agent.

You can learn about me and how I can help you accomplish your goals.

Here is the link to my Author Page. Currently 14 real estate books covering numerous home-buying or home-selling scenarios.  www.JamesSweatAuthor.com  

To find out what your home is worth for free, go to http://values.jamessweatauthor.com/

Featured in Scene Magazine’s Men on the Scene 2016 issue

Home Search: Search for homes like an agent. This site offers three years sales history; original list price; most recent price reduction – date and amount (to help you get into the mind of the seller); maps; community information and much more at your fingertips.  Must Have\ and \Like to Have\ options help you find your dream home fast!  http://jimsweat.listingbook.com/

Do you want?

  • The Best Price
  • Effective Marketing
  • Guidance You Can Trust
  • Global Reach From A Local Expert

 

Get Serious. Get Sweat.

All the Best!

Jim Sweat, ABR, CLHMS, CRS, CDPE, GRI, e-PRO

Realtor

Re/Max Alliance Group

Mobile: 941-306-7384

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

I am in the business of encouraging people to move, but I will be the first to admit it is not always easy.

This is an excerpt from my biography:

“We fell in love with the Venice/Sarasota area on vacation, went back and sold our real estate office, put our home on the market, and made the move to Florida! Now I get to share that experience with others. It is common for folks to discover this area by accident, and eventually make it their home.”

Wow! That sounds so simple!

Just like that. We like it. We are moving. Done.

Of course it was not that easy.

The decision to move is always tough because there are so many variables:

The Logistics of Location Changes; Finances; Emotions; Jobs; Friends and Family; Timing; Emotions; Planning and Implementation; Home Selling; Emotions; Home Searching; Fear of the Unknown; Packing; Closing and Moving.

Did I mention it is also an emotional time? It can be a roller coaster as you think excitedly about the future, and then remember all of the good times you have had in your current location, and the friends you will leave behind. The greater the distance between locations, the higher the peaks and valleys tend to be because things seem more “permanent” from miles away.

There will be ups and downs wherever you live, that is part of life.

I have friends and clients who are struggling with the decision right now, and it is prompting me to reflect on our big move, and put something in writing that may be of help to others in the years ahead.

Marci and I moved to Florida from Michigan with our daughter Belinda eleven years ago. It was a big move and many people thought we were crazy! We could tell, even if they didn’t say it. The fear in their eyes and concern for us was obvious.

Belinda was a fourth generation native to South Haven. Suffice to say, there were a lot of friends and family in the area. Most of my family was within three hours, a big change from twenty one hours away after the move.

We owned our own real estate company and were well established. People knew us and would simply call up and say, “Come list my house” or “I’m ready to find a new home.” That is a good position to be in.

My biography says we fell in love, sold and moved. What it doesn’t say is “we made the decision”. And that was the turning point in how things went.

November 2005. When we first returned from that fateful vacation we did not start making plans to move to Florida.

Just the opposite: We made an offer on the office building we were based in. That would have been a commitment to stay put for years and years.

The landlord had been marketing the property for months, with a “for sale by owner” sign in the front window of our real estate office.

Yes. Think about that!

He said, “I can’t list with you, you are my best prospect. And I won’t do you the disservice of listing with someone else.” Months pass and he is not negotiable. So upon returning from Florida, I wrote the contract up. His price, his terms, everything he wanted.

And he didn’t sign it.

I was puzzled. “Is there anything in this contract that is not exactly the way you wanted it?” I asked.

“No. You put in everything I asked for, but my attorney…”

I quit listening. If I couldn’t buy it on his price and his terms, then obviously I wasn’t supposed to buy it at all.

So then we made the decision to move to Florida, right?

No. We spent the next couple of months in La La Land. Not sure what we were going to do, or where. Just going through the motions of life, and running the day to day operation of a real estate brokerage. It was a successful company, so we didn’t feel any impetus to make a change. But there were conversations and ideas floating around. We just didn’t have anything decided.

The key seems to be, figure out why you are going (or staying) and make the decision to commit to that course. That is when the paths open up.

February 2006. We made another trip to Venice three months after our first one. This was not a vacation. We visited the high school our daughter would attend. Interviewed with several real estate brokers and learned what we could about the area that we were smitten with but knew nothing about.

Moving was a crazy idea, flat out. We would be jumping into a new market where no one knew us, starting from scratch. And not knowing what the future held, moving into one of the hardest hit markets in the country as the real estate crash unfolded.

The conversations were not easy. “We are well known and established” I would say. “We have agents working for us in our office. This affects a lot of people.”

But I also didn’t want to live with the regret of not doing things we wanted to, while we were young enough to enjoy them.

We had talked for years about moving to Florida when we retired. We vacationed there three or four times a year. All over the state.

One of the most compelling things Marci said was, “Do you want to move to Florida before, or after, the Baby Boomers do?”

I am the first year of Generation X. The Boomers have influenced my entire life, but I am always on the tail end of the trend.

We decided we were moving. We just had to figure out the What, When, How and Where. The Why was settled.

Because we were unknown in a new area, and our house hadn’t sold yet, we rented at first. It was a flurry of activity once the decision was made. Looking for a place to live; deciding on what brokerage to work with; getting things lined up for Belinda at school. We initially were thinking of just closing the office, even though some had mentioned we could sell it.

The day I followed up on the idea, I called someone who knew the decision maker at a brokerage we heard was looking in the area. The very next day, the decision maker was standing in front of our office when we drove past. Before I had the chance to call her, and my contact had not called her. It was fateful, and yes, we put that deal together.

It wasn’t all instantaneous. Our office sold in April and Marci moved to Florida right away. Belinda moved in August to start school. Our house didn’t sell until November, and I moved full time in December.

Moving to Florida at the beginning of the real estate crash was like jumping off a cliff. However, we are still glad we did it, even though it was not easy.

I just told Marci I was working on a piece that would help folks understand there is a lot to the decision making process, using our move as an example. She replied, “Our move was easy. Things just fell into place.” I agreed, “Yes, things fell into place, after we made the decision. Until then, we were just in limbo not knowing what to do.”

A lot more could be written about this subject. Let me close now with this: it often is a lot more involved than it appears on the outside. However, once you commit to the course of action, the path opens up. We didn’t have any answers when we decided, but the decision caused us to find the answers as we went along.

It takes some faith, whatever that means to you. In our case, I prayed that God would open and close doors as He saw fit.

Decide. Commit. Keep your eyes open to opportunities as they present themselves. The hurdles are just to test your resolve.

It’s your life, make the most of it.

All the Best!

Jim Sweat, ABR, CLHMS, CRS, CDPE, GRI, e-PRO

Realtor

Re/Max Alliance Group

Mobile: 941-306-7384

Is This Another Real Estate Bubble?

Two questions need to be answered when multiple offers, bidding wars, tight inventory, and Realtors buying properties become the norm.

We have been seeing strong demand and rising prices for the last three years. The real estate market in Southwest Florida was decimated during the real estate crash, so it is not only reasonable, but also smart, to be alert for signs of danger. Values dropped by over fifty percent from the boom prices of 2005 to the depths of despair in 2011.

Many have been asking if the bidding wars we are seeing are leading to another bubble. Multiple offers are a sign of strong demand, which we definitely have.

There is one irrefutable sign when prices are not sustainable. I will get to that in a moment, first you need to know the two most important questions to ask:

  1. Who?
  2. Why?

Who is buying real estate, and why are they buying it? If you pay attention to the answers, you will have a good grasp on the overall health of the real estate market.

During an eight month period of 2014, over half of the agents in my office bought real estate. Now, we have a small office, still you had six agents buy property in a short period of time. Is that a warning sign?

It could be. The first wave of foreclosures during the crash was heavily populated with agent owned properties. I cover that in more depth in my upcoming book, Real Estate CSI: Controversy, Secrets, Insight. A real estate agent exposes dangers and dirty tricks that cost you money.

The second question determines if that is cause for alarm. Why? Answer: We all bought real estate to own it. None of those purchases was for a flip, or an attempt to get into the chain of title for profit. We all wanted to own the properties we bought.

That is a strong indicator of healthy market growth ahead.

During the boom, everyone was buying real estate. Anyone who could fog a mirror was clamoring to grab the next property available, and many times contracts were selling multiple times before the first closing even took place. Properties weren’t even changing hands. Just the contract to purchase was being sold at a profit to someone else.

Who? Everyone.

Why? For fast money. They didn’t want to own the property; they only wanted to get their name on a contract that could be sold tomorrow for more money.

The most important sign among the many:

When “everyone” is buying, but few actually want to own it, that is a bad sign.

So who is buying real estate today, besides half of our office? Baby boomers; early retirees; investors; snowbirds; first time buyers; move up buyers; people who love Florida and want to enjoy it for more than a couple of weeks a year; and the occasional flipper.

These are good people to see spending their money in the marketplace, and a sign that bodes well for the future.

Respectfully,

Jim Sweat, ABR, CRS, CDPE, GRI, e-PRO, ILHM

REALTOR

Author of REAL ESTATE CSI: CONTROVERSY, SECRETS, INSIGHT (coming soon)

American Realty of Venice, Inc.

700 W. Venice Ave

Venice, FL 34285

941-484-8080

http://myfloridahomesmls.com/JimSweat Home search

www.linkedin.com/in/jimsweat LinkedIn

https://www.zillow.com/reviews/write/?s=X1-ZUyz3incawqo7d_93ahq Zillow

Local Realtor offers to pay you so they win next time! Coastal Living ranked Venice America’s Second-Happiest Seaside Town 2015.

Local Realtor offers to pay you so they win next time! Coastal Living ranked Venice America’s Second-Happiest Seaside Town 2015..