A Quick Look Into the Inaccuracies of Zillow Home Zestimates in Santa Barbara

The LA Times recently examined Zillow‘s price inaccuracies, where Zillow CEO, Spencer Rascoff, remarked that their “Zestimates are a ‘good starting point’ but that nationwide they have a ‘median error rate’ of about 8%.” This is of significance considering that Zillow is one of the most popular real estate information sites. “Shoppers, buyers, and sellers” alike often quote these estimated value prices to real estate agents, and discrepancies can sometimes lead to disagreements. The disparity can be especially significant in regards to luxury homes, where that “small” percentage can translate to hundreds of thousands of dollars – possibly even more in market areas where inaccuracy percentages are even higher. (Read the full LA Times article here)

So, we decided to do a little bit of our own research about the Santa Barbara area including Carpinteria, and Montecito. We compared the sales price of 10 different homes that closed since January 1, 2015 to current Zillow Zestimate prices. Differences ranged from +/- 3% all the way up 31%, with the majority of discrepancies being between +/- 3% and 11%; the average deviation from actual closing sale price was 11.8%. Although it would be a stretch to assume this is the average for the entire Santa Barbara housing market, it does give us a general idea of the extent to which Zestimates are flawed. Fortunately, it seems Santa Barbara does not suffer from drastic price discrepancies, but it is a factor that home buyers, sellers, and shoppers should be aware of.

Lesson to learn from all of this: online home estimates should be used for general reference, and not treated as factual or explicit. Buyers and sellers are encouraged to trust the valuations of real estate professionals and appraisers.

For more information on Santa Barbara real estate, or the luxury enclaves of Montecito, Hope Ranch, the Riviera and Beaches, please contact Riskin Associates, the top producing real estate team in Santa Barbara.

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