Q: Can Real Estate value Web sites actual price my house?
A: The Internet is certainly the information highway, but just because information comes to you over the Web doesn’t mean it’s accurate or reliable enough for you to bet your hard-earned savings on.
Web sites such as Zillow, RealEstateABC and Domania (and many others) pull together data from a variety of sources to give consumers information about properties, including such details as the square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, construction, sales history, property taxes, comparable sales and estimated property values. They’re great starting points for research, the experts say, but anyone who relies on these sites to set a sales price for his or her home or to decide on how much to offer for a house is making a drastic mistake. These Web sites are a useful tool and can give you starting points. But don’t make decisions worth hundreds of thousands of dollars based on a click of a mouse with information from public databases.
Nearly 80 percent of home buyers reportedly start their searches on the Web these days, so it’s natural that consumers would look online for this kind of information. One of the most common complaints is not that the sites have an ulterior motive, but that the valuations can be dramatically different from site to site — and wildly inaccurate. Try a few of the sites and you’ll see you’re getting answers that look like the result of a pinball machine.
If the sites have a practical use, it’s in the amount of raw information they give you. The primary benefit is that you can see the actual selling price and date that houses in the neighborhood sold, if the house is in a county where the sales records are updated online on a regular basis. But be careful, there are too many ways the estimate of value could go astray. If you put on blinders and think it will spit out the real market value, you’re in trouble. The bottom line is that online real estate valuation sites are great as a starting point for research, but they have limitations and they’re not looking out for your best interests. Just because it’s posted on a Web site doesn’t mean it’s accurate.
There is no substitute for doing your due diligence. Or call a reputable Broker or Realtor-Associate. Great place to start me! www.NJRealtySolutions.com