Don't Rely on Home Prices from Generic Websites

It's undeniably fun to visit one of the generic online home search websites at some point. They do give you a fascinating broad-brush overview of the local property marketplace and certainly offer some useful resources for general research into homes in the area you wish to/already live in.

Sadly, many buyers and sellers rapidly discover that the information on these sites is not always accurate and up to date!

Buyers often proudly inform us that they've found the perfect home, but when we do our own check of the area multiple listing service, or MLS, (the accurate search engine for realtors), we sometimes have to break the bad news to them that the property is no longer listed, for whatever reason.

These websites forensically track your activity on their site. When you use them to request to speak to a realtor about a property, you may well not be speaking to the actual listing agent for that home. It will more than likely be three or four other realtors who pay to advertise their services on these sites to obtain leads. They'll invariably bother you with all sorts of questions.

If you're a seller, there's an extremely high probability of there being literally no accuracy in the quoted price of your home on such sites. Each site employs its own calculation techniques to arrive at a price for your home, so there is no consistency at all. Much of the information they use is gathered from the county assessor's office, so if you've had an addition on your home that wasn't recorded by the assessor, then your value will not be accurately reflected on these sites.

There is also no allowance made for the ever-changing status of the real estate market. These sites can't tell you whether it's a buyer's market or a seller's market right now. The information they use is always out of date, usually compiled with the help of market data that is at least three months old.

Across the country, there are wild swings in the accuracy of generic website home price estimates. One report last year suggested that they were wrong, to a certain extent, in almost all cases. It also suggested that in some rural counties of California, error rates average as high as 26% off the actual home value.

If you're a serious seller or buyer call us, or refer to our website search engine, based on the area MLS, so we can make the most accurate search for you. By all means use the generic sites for a quick guesstimate, or just a bit of fun, but always remember that though they have their uses, they contain lots of information that is often not in a good position to be taken seriously.

Dominic Nicoli