So you’re going to buy a house. You sit down and go to Zillow.com searching through endless listings. You get a ‘zestimate’ of how much your home is worth, which shows you a 40% increase in value from the original purchase price. “So much equity we have!” you think to yourself. There it is, you’ve found the perfect home. You get that gut feeling, “this is the one.” Copying the link you send it to your spouse who responds with “this is the one!” Instead of calling your real estate agent to help, you decide to call the agent who is listing the house (mistake). The featured Zillow agent gets back to you after a few gut wrenching hours of waiting. You hear the news “the house is under
contract”. Wait what?!? The house is still listed on Zillow.com, the worlds most amazing, accurate and trustworthy website of all time!!! You both drift into a downward spiral of sadness, depression, anger, violence, anarchy… Well maybe not, but you’re still very upset. The decision is made, ‘it’s not meant to be, we shouldn’t be looking for a house right now.’
At least your ‘zestimate’ shows a 40% increase in the value of your home. “Maybe we should sell our house and move into an apartment, and decide that FSBO (for sale by owner) is the way to go” because, DIY and the internet. That’s a story for another time, but you get the picture. Searching for a house can be an emotional experience, and online tools are not always the most accurate. Below are 4 reasons why having an expert help you buy and/or sell a home will save you time, money and heartache.
The online “how much home can I afford” calculators can give deceiving results. There are factors in the approval process that are not built into these calculators that will greatly skew your results. The output can set expectations and send you on your way, searching for homes outside of your price range. Once you contact a bank to get pre-approved for a loan and find out that you can only get approved for $20,000 less than what the calculator told you, it can be huge disappointment. An experienced agent will take you through the house search process in an organized and systematic way to help set your expectations and walk with you through the process.
Listings on Zillow have been proven to be inaccurate by as much as 36%. A realtor with access to the local MLS will have 100% accuracy when representing which houses are for sale at the moment of search. Zillow can take as long as 9 days to fully update to represent the market. Non-local house search sites can’t tell you if a house is under contract or if there are multiple offers on a given property. This means that you could be missing out on a huge portion of potential homes and may be wasting your time searching for homes that are already taken. Also, the ‘zestimate’ (an estimated value of a home) is consistently incorrect and does not represent true value. Hiring an experienced agent is the best way to find the actual value of a property.
- Real Market Trends
Did Zillow know that the Aksarben area just built a new arena for the University of Nebraska at Omaha? No. Zillow won’t know how that will affect the appreciation rate in that neighborhood. Your realtor will use hard data, expert knowledge of the neighborhood, and seek counsel from other experts in the area to help you price your home accurately and effectively.
- An Eye for Detail
Zillow can’t help a buyer meticulously comb through a recently flipped house to look for clues of poor craftsmanship or spots where they cut corners. Zillow will display bright beautiful photos that have the buyer ready to write an offer. A good agent can tell if the work was done well or if the investor just “slapped lipstick on a pig.” If the obvious pieces weren’t done well (tiling, light fixtures, etc), there’s a good chance that the hidden parts (think attic, plumbing, etc) weren’t repaired like they should be.
No bad on Zillow or the plethora of other online house hunting tools, this is just to show that they’re incomplete. A real estate agent has experience, a complete set of tools, and the motivation to help you on your journey to find the perfect home. With one of the largest financial decisions on the horizon, don’t you think you might want an expert counseling you through the process?
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