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    Zillow’s “Zestimates”- What Are They and How Do They Affect You in Texas?

    Are you curious why your home valuation differs from Zillow’s “Zestimate”? Well if you live in the state of Texas, you’re not alone.

    Let’s start from the beginning.  What is a “Zestimate”?

    A “Zestimate” is Zillow’s starting point in determining a home’s value.  This valuation is based upon an algorithm developed by Zillow that incorporates both public data and user-submitted data points.  It is automatically computed three times per week, but the data Zillow uses to generate a “Zestimate” varies by state, and even by county.

    Some states provide all of the data necessary to compute an accurate “Zestimate”. In those states, the “Zestimates” are fairly accurate.  However, other states lack key elements- such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, recent sales data, and in some cases, even the square footage of the home. The more data available to Zillow, the more accurate the “Zestimate”.

    So what’s going on in Texas?

    Texas is what is known as a non-disclosure state.  When real estate is purchased in Texas, the buyer legally does not have to disclose how much they paid for the property, nor is it recorded as public information. The board of Realtors for each municipality keeps track of this sales data, and is usually only accessible to a local real estate agent.

    Because Zillow does not have access to recent sales data in Texas, often, Zillow only has county appraisal data to base “Zestimates” off of.  County appraisal information is a general valuation that has little correspondence to actual market value in Texas.  In other words, the “Zestimate” of your home in Texas is rarely accurate.

    So how do you find the true value of your home? Contact a local real estate agent.

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