Use Zillow Like a Pro: Agents Reveal Top Tricks and Undisclosed Secrets

Use Zillow Like a Pro: Agents Reveal Top Tricks and Undisclosed Secrets

The housing market is on the upswing, and real estate agents are expecting a full recovery post-pandemic. Buyers and sellers are anticipating a robust demand, and what better way to evaluate home pricing than on Zillow.

Zillow is an online marketplace where you can search for your next dream home. It is an exciting and convenient way to buy your new home or investment property. After spending just 10 minutes browsing the website, you will find a multitude of houses for sale with all the property details to determine if the home is perfect for your family.

Included in the listings are neighborhood details, and you can also find the next real estate agent to help you close out the deal.

Even though Zillow offers “one-click shopping” for your next home purchase, you want to take most of the information found on Zillow with a grain of salt — website home details are subject to change.

While Zillow is a useful guide, it should just be one of the resources you use when shopping for your beloved home.

Real estate agents across the country give you some tips on how to use Zillow when browsing or putting your home up for sale.


Brad Le, a California real estate agent, was assisting his client in a home sale. He checked online at Zillow and saw that the homes in his neighborhood were selling at $650,000. Brad Le considered that the neighborhood homes were undervalued. So, Brad Le listed his client’s property at $750,000. Finally, a homebuyer bought the house for $765,000. Afterward, the neighborhood homes in that area of Los Gatos, California, shot up an extra $100,000.

Zestimates may be less accurate in large, dense market areas. You may want to understand the full scope of the marketplace before placing bids and listing your property. You do not want to lose several thousands of dollars during housing contract negotiations.

In large, spacious cities such as Phoenix and Denver, Zestimates are about 5% of the sales price with 90% accuracy. A bustling metropolis like New York or San Francisco, Zestimates usually are 70% to 80% accurate. For other cities, consider Zestimates within 10% to 20% of the sales price as average.

According to Gigi Malek, a Terrace Sotheby’s real estate agent, “Zestimates are a gauge to the market area, but not necessarily accurate. A Zestimate is just a starting point, and a more in-depth appraisal by an experienced agent or appraiser is required to get the proper value.”

Listing Gaps

Zillow analyzes and lists data from a variety of sources. It can pull data from multiple listing sites, owners, developers, and agents. Zillow also relies upon county public records and property and tax assessments for proper evaluation of properties. Standardization and cohesiveness are lacking across several county regions. When this data gets updated, however, can vary.

Sometimes, a seller’s agent may not correct a profile with up-to-date information, which could lead to entire profiles becoming blank.

Zillow has gotten much better in providing more accurate data on its home listings. However, the buyer is not without options. Preferably, to validate a listing, check with the primary source. When you see the home of your choice, scroll down to the “listing provided by” section, and review the contact information. You can check with the owner to understand any discrepancies in the listing data.

Agent Reviews

Check out the profiles of agents in your area. Zillow only allows buyers and sellers to leave reviews if they have sold a home using the platform. Look for agents who have been active within the last six months. Agents are evaluated in the following areas:

  • Local knowledge

  • Process expertise

  • Responsiveness

  • Negotiation skills

As you look at an agent’s profile, you can view the types of properties sold, what price-point the properties were sold, and an agent’s neighborhood expertise. Thereby, you can verify the agent’s best demographics.

Every listing will have the seller’s agent. However, some agents pay a premium for ultimate exposure across multiple zip codes.

Pricing Differences

Zillow provides an estimate of a home’s value based upon widely available public information; it will not provide pricing for upgrades or the historical significance of a home.

“There are a number of factors Zillow does not account for in order to properly value a home. Things like the interior upgrades, the exact location of a home on a street …the floor or view of a condo, and most importantly, the demand,” said Brad Le.

Small differences like these can affect pricing. It is difficult for a computer algorithm to account for a kitchen or bathroom remodel, off-street parking, a century-old home, or an enlarged garden for a complete home evaluation. A seller should work with a real estate agent who is knowledgeable about the local market. A local agent will understand these market fluctuations and sellers will get a great head-start on the overall process.

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