How Accurate Are The Listings Online
September 17, 2022 Mark MacFarlane

How Accurate Are The Listings Online

Posted in Home Buying, Home Selling, Real Estate

How Accurate Are The Listings Online

Many Factors

If you’re someone who loves window shopping for houses online using various real estate apps like Realtor and Zillow, you might look at the price of the house to determine if it’s in your price range. Homeowners also use these apps to see how much their house might be worth to determine if it’s time to consider selling. Since online listings are used by real estate agents, buyers, sellers, and even renters, you might assume that they’re accurate. However, not all the listings you see online are accurate because of the many factors that go into determining how much a house is worth.

Additionally, when you’re shopping for a home and get a chance to read all the features of the home, including new additions, upgraded appliances, and a description of the yard, you might wonder if everything you’re reading is true before you decide to schedule a tour of the property. Many online listings are accurate, while others aren’t. It depends on the information you’re looking at and other factors like the current market conditions. Of course, realtors listing homes online aren’t trying to lie to you, but they are trying to sell houses. Meanwhile, estimates from real estate companies like Zillow that can tell homeowners what their house is worth can’t take into account the current condition of the home because they haven’t had it officially appraised. So, how accurate are online listings? The answer is that it depends.

Home Value Estimates

There’s no way for a home value estimate to take into account all of the factors that impact a home’s price. However, these estimates, such as Zillow’s Zestimate, do their best to factor in the current market conditions, size of the home, last reported updates, and many more factors that can help potential sellers find the right time to sell.

The accuracy of these estimates is improving, but there’s no way for them to be 100% accurate without having them professionally appraised because you never know what the condition of the home is inside. Therefore, an estimate on Zillow might be drastically different than one on another website because of the hundreds of factors that go into the calculations. Estimates can also be way under or over what houses actually sell for.

In the case of a Zestimate, Zillow uses an algorithm that examines your home’s square footage, location, bathrooms, and active home listings in the area, along with market trends and tax assessments of prior years, but they’re not appraisals. Instead, these estimates should give you an idea of how much your house could be worth in current market conditions.

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Home Listing Descriptions

When you’re searching for a home online, whether you’re looking for a rental or buying your first house, you’ll come across descriptions for every property or unit available. Unfortunately, sometimes realtors and landlords lie in their online listings to try to get you to tour the home or sign a contract. Of course, landlords can find tenants without meeting, but buyers typically want to see the homes before agreeing to anything or taking out a mortgage loan.

If you’ve ever read a description online only to visit the property, and it doesn’t look anything like the ad claimed, you’re not alone. Additionally, you’ll run into many homeowners trying to sell their homes themselves who use lies to try to entice people into buying. Of course, agents must present homes in the best possible light because they want the homes to sell in order to make money.

Buyers are smart, though, and they will look at photos and videos of the home before scheduling a tour. While most realtors will try to use colorful language to describe boring properties, others will tell flat-out lies about a property just to get people interested in purchasing it. Of course, these lies will get you in the door, but that doesn’t mean you have to buy a home. Instead, view descriptions with a healthy skepticism and tour every house you’re interested in.

Unfortunately for buyers, lies on a home listing can make you waste your time because you may expect everything you read to be true. Once stepping into the home, you’ll catch realtors in their lies, but they’re hoping that there will be something that will keep you interested in the house once you’re there. After all, once you’re there, they can talk to you in person to keep you interested, even after discovering their lies.

How Accurate Are Listings Really?

There’s no way to know how accurate a listing is until you check the home out for yourself or do a little research online. Buyers now have access to tons of tools and information to learn about homes, so they don’t rely on the description as much as they once did. Instead, they’ll look at images of the house online or take virtual tours in their free time.

With tools like Google Earth, buyers become their own investigators and can learn more about a house than they can from a simple listing description alone. As more buyers look for facts about the house rather than colorful marketing descriptions, they’ll be looking for information for the MLS to check whether it’s accurate. Many buyers don’t even read the descriptions anymore because they know it’s going to be filled with fluff. Instead, they’ll talk to a realtor directly to ask when updates were made and view the condition of the house by scheduling a walk-through.

Buyer Beware

Buyers must protect themselves by learning everything they can about the home from the listing, outside resources, and the realtor themselves. Working with your own realtor can help you understand what to ask the sellers to give you hard data and information rather than fluffy descriptions that don’t answer the most important questions. In most cases, realtors aren’t trying to lie to you; they’re just trying to make you interested in buying the house, so they won’t tell you inaccurate information. Instead, they’ll use beautiful words to make a house seem more attractive than it really is.

Article Written By Ashley Nielsen

Ashley Nielsen earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration Marketing at Point Loma Nazarene University. She is a freelance writer where she shares knowledge about general business, marketing, lifestyle, wellness or financial tips. During her free time she enjoys being outside, staying active, reading a book, or diving deep into her favorite music.

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