Study Questions Accuracy of Trulia and Zillow

sites like Zillow, sites like TruliaThis blog post is not intended as an indictment or criticism of sites like Trulia and Zillow.  Instead the intention is to educate and inform.  Zillow and Trulia offer a wealth of information for home buyers and for sellers a large number of eyeballs view listings on these sites every day.  However, when it comes to accuracy and timeliness, buyers should beware.  A study commissioned by Redfin, an online real estate brokerage with agents in several regions throughout the United States, found that national sites like Zillow and Trulia that “syndicate” real estate listings are presenting their visitors with incomplete and inaccurate information.

Time is of the essence.  This is especially true today where we have fewer homes for sale in Bend than we have had in eight years.  The study found on average it takes 7 to 9 days longer for a new listing to show up on Trulia and Zillow than a local broker’s website.  In a competitive market with limited inventory such as ours, by the time you see a house listed on these sites there could already be an offer pending.

Is it really for sale?  How frustrating would it be to find “The House,” the one you have been dreaming of, only to learn that it has already sold?  More than one third of the homes for sale on Trulia and Zillow have already sold.  Some people might call sifting through results that are only 66% accurate a waste of time.  By comparison, the real estate broker websites in the study, on average, showed homes for sale erroneously less than one percent of the time.

They aren’t all there.  I can’t think of one buyer that who wouldn’t be upset if she found out that we were holding back and not showing her all of the houses that are for sale.  That’s what happens when buyers search for homes on Zillow or Trulia.  It isn’t just a few homes that are missing, it’s 20% of the homes for sale!


How much is it really worth?  Zillow offers an opinion of what it thinks a house is worth.  This opinion is called a Zestimate.  Looking at the data Zillow provides to support the accuracy of their Zestimates, it quickly becomes apparent that little weight should be given to their estimated home values.  On average, only 33% of the time are Zestimates within 5% of the actual sales price and about 50% of the time they are within 10%.  This is a big deal because it means that for a house that sold for $200,000, only half of the time is their guess at value within $20,000 of what it was actually worth.  Buyers who base their offers on a Zestimate can expect a whole lot of rejection and no counter offers.  The screenshot on the left is an example of a home that recently sold in Bend.  Zillow thought it was worth $327,754 but it actually sold for $380,000.  A difference of $52,246!


What to do?  Instead of using national syndication sites for a real estate search, focus on local brokerage websites where the broker is a member of their regional multiple listing service (MLS).  For brokers like Preferred Residential, our Central Oregon MLS search tool provides accurate, up to date listings in Bend, Redmond, Sunriver, Eagle Crest, Lapine and surrounding areas.  If you don’t have time to manually search homes for sale call us at (541) 508-2930 and we will set up a VIP Search that sends listings that meet your specific criteria directly to your email inbox.

About Dan Seim

Dan Seim is the primary contributor to Preferred Residential's blog. He has been writing about real estate issues that affect home owners in Bend and Central Oregon since 2011.

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