From a reader:

Average condos in SF are up 4.9% in the past year. I am happy for everyone who owns one, but I have a problem with the means of estimating a condo’s value and that is via Zillow.
I won’t waste your time telling me to ignore Zillow, as I would like to do. But many people go to the Zillow site to see their Zestimates and I have a huge issue with Zillow on their Zestimate of my condo.

I am in a classy South Beach building and have an incredible, unobstructed view of the Bay along the Embarcadero. My neighbor, with the same footprint of a little over 1,000 sq ft 1 bed, 1 bath, has his place “Zestimated at over $1.2mil. My place used to be about that, but in the past 18 months my Zestimate has gone down to under $650,000. I think my neighbor’s place is accurately figured and it is a lovely place. But mine has a better view, by far and has no privacy issues as far as large office blocks looking right into his bedroom and dining room. So, to summarize: two identical units in the same building with a difference in Zestimates of about $600,000. Just seems impossible.

I would like to protest with Zillow but there is no opportunity to do so other than writing letters to their Seattle HQ. No responses. One real estate guy saw me complaining in a forum on Zillow and he said it is all algorhythms and there is no human input. He said to just ignore Zillow. If no one went to Zillow I would find that easy to do.

If anyone doubts me, just check out 75 Folsom #1105 and #1106. You tell me.

Any ideas?

I know our site has been asleep for a while, but anybody have any suggestions?

30 comments

  1. Yeah I’ve noticed the same thing too. What’s funny in my neighborhood is that most of the places are several hundred thousand dollars low, and then when a place sells the Zestimate “spikes” to the sale price and then slowly creeps down again. One place has sold three times in the past few years, and the Zestimate graph looks like an EKG meter with all the sale price spikes… You’d think that Zillow would figure it out after three times!

    Another thing about Zillow is I wonder whether they know the difference between a TIC and a condo.. from my casual outsider perspective it seems like they don’t, and obviously that really affects price.

    At the end of the day, I think this is something that’s ignored. As an owner I just watch what’s actually selling in my hood, and when I was a buyer, the Zillow price lind of didn’t matter–I was bound by the seller and the comps.

  2. Zillow also cannot tell what kind, if any, view a home has. This can add considerable value to any home; especially in San Francisco

  3. My zillow estimate was perhaps a little higher than the market area, but once I listed the price for sale and added my house on Zillow.

    The “Zestimate” all of a sudden dropped 30,000 and 7,0000 Lower than my asking price. That makes it look like I’m over priced when I’m Not. The Zestimate is way off base, and needs to be fixed!!!

  4. Ditto to all the above. Zillow keeps comping my house in a solid neighborhood with a panoramic view of the Golden Gate Bridge with sales of dilapidated homes in bad neighborhoods with no views. It also doesn’t have a record of a sale of a (very high priced recently) sold neighbor home. In the past few months for some inexplicable reason, the value on my home has dropped by around $500,000. There is no recourse and absolutely no way to resolve this with Zillow. I think there is something illegal about the whole thing. If the Zillow estimate interferes with my ability to refinance, I am considering a class action suit.

  5. Hello Susan,
    My house at 1031 Gardenwood Drive San Jose CA 95129 is Zestimated about $30,000 below houses in my neighborhood, and I am about to put up my house on sale. I have similar concerns as you right now. I wish there was a way to get the Zestimate fixed.

  6. I have a property on Long Island totally opposite coast and we are having the same problem. There is NO rhyme or reason to their “zestimate” It gives buyers a truly wrong idea of area values. I have tried to contact Zillow even providing proof of how wrong they are, and my emails have gone unanswered. I think someone needs to find an attorney and look into a class action suit. They are not doing any home owners any favors with their skewed estimates and dismal downward marked charts when area sales show different.

  7. Same here in Huntington Beach (Southern Calif). My house is one of the smaller homes on the street, but we’ve upgraded so much and its definitely a lot nicer than some of the other similar sizes here in our neighborhood. We’re also on a cul-de-sac, off the main road, lots of perks.. but now I’m down to the mid 5’s, along with some other 40 year old homes that are the same sq ft but definitely not in the same league as mine.. It really erks me that the guy across the street (same floor plan) who has never done anything to his house is rated HIGHER on Zillow than mine.. Cannot figure it out, there has to be some recourse because people definitely keep Zillow in mind when looking. We’ll be selling next summer, and I’m afraid this will effect my asking price substantially…and not for the better. I want to opt out of Zillow..how can I do that?

  8. Zillows problem is that they use EVERYthing in that neighborhood, sfr’s, condos, 2-4’s and include the veg o matic blender method of data ‘massaging’. I can’t tell you how many people tell me some out of whack value that they ‘ got from Zillow’. Views, improvements, condition, age, exterior influences, school districts- all the things used to estimate market value in an appraisal seem irrelevant in the Zillow scheme of things.

  9. I have had similar problems with a low zestimate for unknown reasons. It seems we should be allowed to choose if we want to reveal the zestimate . The zestimate often appears random.

  10. Zillow picture misses our property entirely (one down the block), has the square footage off by 2000 square feet, even the tax info is wrong.
    I refreshed and reloaded over a few days, and their Zestimate changed as well! Went down .8 percent in value, then up by 18,000!!!
    They also don’t seem to take into account waterfront footage values.
    What a crock.

  11. I have the same problem. Because I “updated” the information on Zillow, my house is incorrectly estimated at much less than the other homes in the neighborhood. I noticed that some of my friends who did the same and corrected Zillow’s information on their homes also have incorrectly lower estiimates on their homes. This is very much a problem because one refinance mortgage company actually used Zillow to appraise my house’s worth!!!!

  12. In my neighborhood of South Beach prices have escalated about 23% in the last year, while Zillow estimates for my condo building have dropped $200K/unit in the last six months. Why? A multi-million-$ unit in our building “sold” – a transaction within a trust – for $72K 6 months ago. Zillow’s algorithms are so stupid that they can’t distinguish true sales from accountant tricks — even though the recorded price is a factor of 20 below a common sense estimate. Hard to believe the stay in business.

  13. Not only does Zillow regularly undervalue my home, they actually listed my home as under foreclosure because the Deed of Trust had changed. I called and threatened a lawsuit and they eventually fixed it. I just had an appraisal done on my home due to a refinance and they have my home valued well below the appraised value. I’ve complained to them about it, but they’ve done nothing. Why are these idiots allowed to continue this practice? There must be big money behind them.

  14. How does Zillow come up with their values? Zillow has my home underpriced by $95K. I asked an appraiser, and she came back with a value that was $95K more. Wrong information on Zillow..

    1. I just paid $400 to have our home appraised by a professional appraiser from our town. After receiving our appraisal report I looked at Zillow’s “so-called” zestimate on our home two days later and the zestimate is over $64,000 lower than the appraisal. What a JOKE! Who do these people think they are? Zillow is a total waste of time

      1. So…In My Humble Opinion there is no need for appraisers (in a purchase) and no need for Zillow. Zillow pulls it’s data from us agents that provide the listings, and sales. Appraiser (in a purchase) only kill deals. If a buyer is willing to pay and a seller is willing to sell, that’s what it’s worth. So…take those opinions, mixed with the facts you have in your hand, and you see you’re basing the price of your home off of two relatively useless data sources. :-) Good luck!

  15. It is time that Zillow was subject to some form of Regulation to protect homeowners from the nonsense Zestimae valuations that Zillow publish. This is especially so when Zillow itself accepts a report by Clarity Consulting that 17% of Zestimates are more than 25% inaccurate. If this is the case then why does Zillow refuse ALL reasonable requests by homeowners to correct or delete inaccurate zestimates brought to its attention? Zillow says that Zestimates are a “starting point” but when they refuse all requests to correct then they are an end point too which is totally unacceptable in any fair minded society.

  16. I have had the same experience on Zillow, where a home right next door (same specs, but 300 SF less and no deck or driveway) was noted higher in value for the last 3 years by nearly 30% (about $100k more) then my home; and the only reason that I was aware, is my neighbor refinanced his home about 3 years ago and soon thereafter his Zillow estimate increased by 30% instantly, where my home remain the same value.

    To my understanding, because I had not refinanced my home like my neighbor, my home value remained the same…I believe that Zillow references new home purchases in the area, county assessment values, with appraisals prior to a refinance, values will vary, and sometimes not fairly to the homeowners trying to payoff their mortgage, in compared of others refinancing, because why? Because Zillow is in the real estate business to encourage homeowners to refinance their homes and rewards homeowners that do exactly that.

  17. Why hasn’t anyone considered starting an “Agent Owned” National CMLS Internet advertising company by which we all become coop owners and share in the ad revenues and use the service at moderately low cost. We could put a stop to all the internet companies using OUR LISTINGS to make BILLIONS and use those revenues as retirement supplements to all the coop members of the National CMLS internet company. I am sick and tired of Zillow, Trulia, Realtor. Com, and other sites too using our listings to milk the real estate agents for money that belongs to us. These are our listings not theirs. If anyone should make money on our listings it should be us. We can put a stop to this and no longer allow these sites to use our listings. In the very least, they should be paying us for our listing. Wake up Real Estate Agents………….

    1. My question is: how is it legal for zillow to, in essence, set prices for real estate nationwide? Because of technology, they throw up a website, and talk about some magical “algorithm”, and because of their world-wide web site access, they put a price on almost every home. This price affects both buyers and sellers. Local real estate agents, and appraisers, who are on the ground have a better idea of the value I would think. Of course value is a moving target. I just don’t understand how a website can be allowed to throw out numbers that may become “true”, simply because they put them out there. When asked, zillow responds with “its just an estimate”.

  18. Do not contact zillow hire a real estate lawyer and sue zillow for defamation of property character, misrepresentation of your property and information in lieu of zillow making money at your expense by wrongfully advertising so they can increase number of hits on their website. Thus attracting more advertisement dollars. It’s time to show this garbage company either provide correct information or get sued.

    1. This makes sense to me. I question the legality of what they are doing. Tossing out numbers at will for every home in the country and other parts of the world. Each locality has qualified licensed appraisers. If zillow gets those numbers from appraisers, then applies it’s magical algorithm, thus affecting either a potential buyer on one side, or a seller on the other, by thousands of dollars, if it is legal, it’s time for more websites to help skew their numbers.

  19. i have two houses !! really only one but stupid zillow has my house listed twice and at two different estimates haha shows how incredibly stupid this company is 2401 hst sacramento ca 95816 you’ll find two list for same exact house ones estimate is 680k the other one is estimate at 598k now thats science zillow sad thing is I’m trying to sell this property and because too many people think that pillows estimate is gospal,let this be a good example to there allgrithym it needs tweeted big tim I’m looking into a class action law suit for them misrepresenting my property in this manor very very unprofessional seattle wa based company probably owned by microsoft or boeing those companys don’t haver to follow the rules because they help out the government so much they can and do get away anything time will get though just like the worst american company in history AT&T JUST GOT SLAPPED MULTI MILLIONS FOR KNOWINGLY ADDING 9.99 TO ALL THERE CUSTOMERS BILLS knowing full well that it was complete fraud they should of be shut down that company id stay far away from even if they were shut down they’d probably come back as cingular again haha lol go att hopefully pillows butt gets plowed really good here soon

  20. pillows is zillow!!! and estimate is zestimate !!!! how amazing that that happened on both times i typed them now who’s web site is this got to be pillows watching everyone talk about them well fuck off and die zillow!!!!!

  21. A nice class action suit would be sweet to see. Just give it time as stupid/’greedy’ people ALWAYS have a way of doing themselves in.. the freak that started zillow is on a beach in Indonesia today.. Give it a decade, he will bE on a rec yard in Chino. Karma has a long memory, hope he takes pictures of his beach villa for the ‘hard times’ while on lock down with some disadvantaged gang bangers.. breathe deep folks.. hell have too! Lol

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