Unless you are living under a rock, as the Geico commercial says, you probably know that Zillow is an online real estate database company that homebuyers and sellers can go to get information about their real estate market, home values or to find an agent. But there's also been a lot of talk that Zillow does not offer accurate information such as the value of your home. According to consumer affairs, Zillow only has a 1 1/2 star rating with dozens of complaints. Real estate agents that do not pay to be on Zillow constantly begged people not to use Zillow as a real estate website. However, there's good and bad in everything. You can find good information on Zillow and then you can find information that is not accurate. It's how to identify the two, figure out what you are looking for and how accurate that information really is. Nothing beats the information of a local real estate agent that not only knows their market but may have specific information on neighborhoods, home values for a particular community, and how the buyers and sellers in an area respond to listings and prices.
[Read more: What is a "Zestimate"?]
Zillow is a good blanket canvas to get an idea of how much homes cost for a particular city or community. They may be a great place to find a real estate agent, and you can find legitimate reviews on that real estate agent through Zillow reviews. If you can't find any information on a particular agent, it doesn't mean that the agent is necessarily a bad agent, as many prefer to work on their own, one-on-one with clients, and not draw more attention to Zillow rather than their own website.
We've chosen to partner with Zillow for real estate reviews, client testimonials and such and of course, all of our listings do go to Zillow and other real estate websites like Trulia, Redfin, and Realtor.com.
What about "Potential Listings"?
But, I will say this, Zillow does have this listing type that you can choose called "potential listings". This is a fuzzy area and I don't think Zillow should even begin to broach the subject. These are potential listings from homeowners that may have gotten a foreclosure notice, are behind on their mortgage so they may decide to sell or even people that are simply testing the market by saying "how much would you give me for my house?"
Many of these are in pre-foreclosure in where the lender has initiated foreclosure proceedings because the homeowner was in default on their loan obligations. They may also include properties in which a foreclosure auction is scheduled. However, these properties are not found on the general MLS and you should approach these properties very carefully and not without a real estate agent.
So, how accurate is Zillow? You can certainly browse through a lot of properties in the area but when it comes to fighting accurate information and wanting to know the details of the property listing or the value of your home, nothing beats contacting a local agent or real estate team that is well-versed in the area, experienced, and knowledgeable with the community.