It's easy, it's popular, click here and bingo your home value is Zillow Magic Price appears. As a listing agent I find that is one of my major challenges .. offers submitted where the agent & the buyer have gone to Zillow, the crystal ball with all the answers.
Don't get me wrong, I think Zillow offers a great opportunity for agents to obtain business and has done an exceptional job of forging a presence on the Internet with a huge following. Kudos for excellent marketing! It is a presence I have just not felt drawn to because I know that there is much more to pricing a home then click and bubble reading.
Zillow is like the property tax entities that employ the price per foot valuation to determine property values. It works just fine assuming the home being valued is Average and all the homes in the neighborhood are similar in quality, age, etc. I'm not a fan of the price per foot or the magic CMA computer generated form from MLS either. You see, I know that each home has a story to tell .. it has special features, it's own personality. A home can have good traits or bad traits, all which will have a buyer reaction. All which require consideration in pricing.
As a listing agent, the "Zillow speak" will happen as an offer is being presented by the buyer's agent. The agent will say .. we searched Zillow and just do not understand why your home is priced the way it is .. it is much higher than Zillow reflects. This does give me an opportunity to do my job and assist the other professional and buyer in understanding how Zillow is an average and why the home in question is priced for amenities, etc. that Zillow did not account for .. the home is not AVERAGE. I also produce a meaningful grid analysis on the home and gently steer them away from the AVERAGE thought into the value of the home.
A reminder to all real estate professionals .. don't rely on a click of a button to do your job of preparing a proper valuation for your clients. Also be prepared to direct your clients off this crutch into proper thinking on how a home is valued. Zillow does have a nice place in our industry, we just need to make sure that it does not become a tool that is misused or misunderstood to it's merits or limitations.