Zillow sticker shock

I must have been way behind in my reading, because I completely missed the talk around Zillow. Thanks to Erik for blogging it to my attention.

Zillow is a real estate site that lets you see the value of any home (that’s in their system) in a lot of interesting ways. It doesn’t have more that tax appraisal values for our current town, so it wouldn’t have been a lot of help when we were house hunting.

But it does have a lot of information about our old home town of Stamford, Connecticut. When I entered in our old address, I nearly fell off my chair:


$1,268,884!!! We sold it for $1,028,00 last June.

I doubt we would have gotten an extra penny for it. Most of the houses immediately surrounding our old home are valued $700–900K. You have to go about 1/2 mile away to the 1 acre zoned lots to get over a million, and our home was only on 1/2 acre. Many realtors who came to our home in the open houses said that it was a great house, but we couldn’t reasonably expect to get $1 million on our street. Ha! Got an acceptable offer in 5 days.

I can also tell that the satellite shot was taken before 2002. It shows the old pre-construction roofline. Zillow has our old house pinpointed slightly south of reality.


The triangle is where Zillow thinks the house is. The circle is the real thing. It’s the first bird’s eye view I’ve seen of the house at all. Google Maps and other satellite sites don’t have detail that close.

Also Zillow says the house was last updated in 1970, so it doesn’t take our massive renovation into consideration at all. Look at this graph:


The far left $$ is when we bought the house for $315,000 in 1996. The far right $$ is when we sold it. If the graph realized the sudden change from a 2,100 sq. ft. ranch to a 4,200 sq. ft. colonial in 2003, there should be a sharp corner somewhere around the 03 line, no? Instead, the graph shows the home value improving steadily over time as the market changed. If we didn’t do the renovation, we would have gotten around $600,000 for the house, tops. If we could have sold it at all considering the shape the roof was in. You can’t see it in the shot above, but trust me, it was bad.


2 responses to “Zillow sticker shock”

  1. as far as i know zillow uses tax assessments to estimate the value of a home.

    I like to use http://www.HomePriceMaps.com because they show how much homes were SOLD for using the google mapping technology.

    also-if you don’t see HomePriceMaps for your area, simply email them your address and or zip and they’ll update the site within a day or two and send you a follow-up email.

  2. I passed the comment through despite the blatant advertising because it’s relative to the topic.

    Do you happen to have an example of a zip code that actually displays any data? Anything that proves that this site is more than a way of collecting demographic data (not bad…get their email address and where they live at the same time)?