Category Archives: Real estate Websites

Never Trust a Zestimate.

If you spend much time on-line looking at properties you have probably stumbled across a real estate website called Zillow.  There are abundant real estate websites out there, the three biggest are Realtor.com, Trulia and Zillow.   All three sites have their merits.  I’m partial to Trulia myself as I find the site to be user friendly.  There are a few companies in the area that do not have listings onthe Adirondack MLS or Realtor.com which makes these collaborative websites a bit of a life saver.

I am often amazed by how well informed my Buyers and Sellers are as a result of the internet.  I appreciate working with well informed clients but it makes me a little sad when someone mentions a property’s “Zestimate” (Zillow’s opinion of the property’s value).   I understand that Zestimates aren’t meant to be misleading and in some markets they are even in the ball park of being accurate.  Unfortunately, the Zestimates for Adirondack Park properties can be downright comical.  It is not uncommon to find a custom waterfront home directly across the street from a seasonal hunting camp here.  Obviously the two properties can not be compared.  Zillow doesn’t understand the difference and averages the sales prices together creating a messy mathematical algorithm that is truly worthless.  Over the years I have read quite a bit of criticism of Zestimates on Realtor Forums and I was relieved to hear that Zillow has finally “Manned Up” and released their Zestimate Accuracy Data.  For Herkimer County, Zillow has a 16% median of error and over 59% of their Zestimates are 20+% higher or lower than the actual market value.  For Oneida County, Zillow has a 14.3% median of error and over 58% of their Zestimates are 20+% off the correct market value.  (Click this link to see the results for yourself).  

If you are interested in finding property data your best sources online are the Town of Webb Assessor’s Real Property Database or the Town of Forestport Assessor’s Real Property Database.  Please keep in mind that there is usually a healthy gap between the assessed property value and the true market value of a property.  Often the data used to arrive at the assessed value can be several years old.