How Accurate Are The Appraised Values Of Zillow And Trulia?

Jan 02, 2014 | Published by Leave your thoughts

A question I often get is, “How accurate is Zillow and Trulia?” This is a great question because it allows me to explore and show you whether or not online appraisal websites are on the money.

I randomly selected five appraisals, located in different parts of the country, done by our team of certified appraisers. I then compared their values which were certified by our appraisers with the amounts shown by Trulia.com and Zillow.com.

By the way, if you want to see the estimated value of a home, go to Google and type in the address and the listing should come up with information from each site.

Now, without further ado, here are the results:

The 1st appraisal I looked at was for a home in Wenham, MA 01984. After a careful appraisal of the 4-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom home, the valuation given by one of our certified local appraisers was: $575,000.

Trulia: $500,000.

Zillow: $574,480.

In the case above, Zillow was very accurate.

The 2nd home is a 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom home in Denver, CO 80246. Our local certified appraiser valued the home at: $260,000.

Trulia: $264,000.

Zillow: $225,858.

In this case, the closer estimate goes to Trulia.

The 3rd property I examined was a 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom house located in Philidelphia, PA 19124. Our appraisal specialist appraised it for $101,000.

Trulia: $58,000. 

Zillow: $92,401.

In this case both Trulia and Zillow were off by thousands of dollars.

The 4th home we had appraised was located in Miami Springs, FL 33166.  The 1118-square-foot single family home has 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom. It was appraised by our certified appraiser for $133,000.

Trulia: $186,000.

Zillow: $217,035.

In this case, Trulia and Zillow were way off. The appraised value of this home by our certified appraiser came in substantially lower than both online values. The reason for this was that this home was in poor condition. It had been abandoned for some time and was taken back from the bank in foreclosure. The home needed many repairs that Trulia and Zillow have no way of knowing about.

The 5th home in this test was located in Washington, D.C. 20002. It is a 2-bedroom, 1.5 bathroom townhouse. The appraiser stated that the property was worth $414,000.

Trulia: $505,000.

Zillow: $410,880.

In This case Zillow was more accurate. The difference between the two online valuations is almost $95,000! However Zillow was pretty close to the appraiser’s value.

Try it out for yourself. Type in your address or a few other addresses and compare the rates. More than likely, you’ll see what I saw: Zillow and Trulia obviously have different methods for estimating the value of homes.

Now this is too small a sample of homes to be statistically accurate, however, it gives us an idea of how the reported values from Trulia and Zillow can not be trusted to make a educated decision on potentially your largest investment.

As a certified residential appraiser, I use Zillow and Trulia on a daily basis to do quick research on homes to get a general idea of what I am dealing with when giving clients a free quote on fee and turn time to appraise their home. What I have found is that these online sites don’t always get the bedroom and bath room count correct, they also seem to be way off when a home is in poor condition or has been highly upgraded. These sites seem to be more accurate when the home or condo is a “cookie cutter” and in average condition.

The bottom line is that sometimes Zillow is accurate, sometimes Trulia is accurate and sometime both of them are way off. Technology still has not advanced to the point where an online appraisal can accurately report the estimated value of a home. The only way to really know what your home is worth is to have an appraiser come out, inspect your property and the comparable sales. Then, put it all together in an appraisal report with adjustments for differences between your home and the comparables used.

Overpriced homes don’t sell and under priced homes cost you money! What do you think, will you be using Zillow or Trulia to figure out your home’s value?

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This post was written by laura

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