Zillow and other internet real estate sites get their information from proprietary sites such as Metrolist (used by Realtors). Their information is second-hand, partial information gleaned from other sites. These sites are not able to take into account factors such as:
- being next to a noisy highway
- being in the hottest neighborhood in town
- the structural or aesthetic condition of the property
Therefore these sites, while good for a general idea of what may be out there, are not good at determining value. Also, because their information is second-hand, they often do not have access to the newest listings or which properties have recently gone under contract.
Likewise, the tax valuation of a property is usually not an accurate reflection of what a property is worth. These often lag behind the market, because reassessments are only done every two years. And when assessments are done, they are usually done remotely or by driving by without going inside. Many improvements are done off-permit (for better or worse!) so those aren’t reflected in the public record either.
In order to get a true picture of what a house is worth (and what it could potentially be worth), you need the help of a professional who knows which neighborhoods are rising in value, which are flat, and which are declining. And you need someone to walk through and around the house to determine the whole picture. We have over 20 years of experience with determining the current and potential value of houses, and with recommending which types of professional inspections might be needed to evaluate potential problems.