|How online services priced my house
|By Holden Lewis
Some people are bewildered by Zillow.com's estimates.
Why, my mom asks, does Zillow say her house is worth $120,000, but
the similar house next door is worth $180,000? A Bankrate colleague
says Zillow overestimated his home's value by tens of thousands
When I looked up my home, Zillow's estimate looked accurate, in
my seat-of-the-pants judgment. Fortunately, I live in a place where
I can get a second opinion, from Homekeys.net.
Initially, Zillow said my
home was worth $339,663. But I have a new roof, and Zillow compared
my house to, among other places, some two-bedroom condos and tiny
town houses. After using the "My Zestimator" tool to update
the roof's condition and ignore the dissimilar comparables, Zillow
estimated my house to be worth $357,033.
That seemed high for the neighborhood, so I checked Homekeys,
which gives estimates on home values in just three South Florida
counties, including mine. It initially estimated the value at $351,200.
I threw out a bad comparable that skewed the value, guessed that
my new roof was worth $3,500 to a buyer and that the pool was worth
nothing, and Homekeys' adjusted estimated value came in at $355,200.
Homekeys' site design makes it impossible to link to a specific
At $357,033 and $355,200, the difference between the estimates
comes to one-half of 1 percent. Either both estimates are pretty
darn close, or they're both inaccurate in the same way. Occam's
Razor says they're fairly accurate.
But I wouldn't know for sure unless I put the house on the market
and struck a deal with a buyer.