I’m not worried about Zillow and Trulia like some agents. Actually I’m all about open information, and that is what Zillow gives, to a point. But only up to a point, and that is how their product actually helps me.
One issue that agents have with Zillow is the Zestimate which Zillow’s estimate of the value of your home as a price range. From Zillow’s website:
Remember, the Zestimate is a starting point and does not consider all the market intricacies that can determine the actual price a house will sell for.
I had a friend who was going to list their home in about a month and they told me they had an appraisal. I was a bit shocked because appraisals cost $450 or more but I didn’t question it. When it came time to list they mentioned that they had another appraisal. At this point I asked some questions and found out they had been looking at Zillow. Zillow has become pervasive enough in the public that they believe that is the site to visit, because it is simple, quick, and they don’t have a Realtor trying to sell them services.
The benefit to the Zestimate is that they get an idea of what their price may be in a very casual way. This may stir them into selling and lead to me having a new listing.
Another way that Zillow has been inadvertently helping me lately is with their search feature. They don’t have every listed home in their search, and those homes on there don’t often have timely information, especially in this fast-paced market, as I have found when my girlfriend goes searching on there. I have two clients who like the Zillow app, they like it better than the Realtor.com app (one person called crap), and the other apps aren’t doing it for them. So they end up calling me to get the real, immediate information.
Zillow can’t replace an agent, and they don’t want to because they sell advertising to the agents. If figuring out prices were as easy as a Zestimate, than pricing homes would be just math. Therewouldn’t be a need to see the inside of a home if anyone thought it was just a math problem of square feet and bedrooms. So while agents are fighting sites like Zillow, I just learn as much as I can about the sites and technology, because my clients are using it and I need to speak their language, and I will be there when they are ready to move.