Zillow estimates?

17 Replies

Don't know much about anything in this field. I do know some of the basics about screening tenants and finding lease formulation help but I don't know if or when I may get started.

I'm 59 years old, disabled, and living on social security. I do have money saved and money that is willed to me. Enough to buy and renovate 2 or 3 houses in the older cheaper neighborhoods in the Saint Louis area. I'm trying to keep some houses on a list to get going when the time comes. Are the Zillow rent estimates worth any consideration or are they just pie in the sky guesses?

 I couldn't decide whether to post this in the beginner section or the buying real estate section but I do need the info in regards to decisions on purchases, so here it is.

Thank you.


You are going to get some zillow hate in other comments, but I've found it fairly reliable in a larger market and unreliable in another much smaller market.   I'd check Craigslist, rentometer, realtor.com and any other site that comes up when you google this subject.  If zillow proves fairly accurate then I'd rely upon it because if you can rely on it, it makes life much easier.  

Thank you! just the info I needed. I see this is a very busy place. I really hope to stay up on things by hanging here.

I don't usually use the Zillow estimates in my analysis, but I do use zillow to see what other homes in the neighborhood are renting for (this is not the "rent zestimate"). That coupled with a Craigslist search, getting my realtor to pull MLS rental listings, and driving the neighborhood and calling "for rent" signs. I've found that the homes listed for rent on zillow in my area are pretty close to what comes up on MLS. Not always, but it gives you a ballpark figure.

I wouldn't use Zestimate for ARV.. Look at recent sales in Zillow and figure out price per sqft etc..

Let me know if I can help in any way.  A house sold for 175K zillow has it sold at 525K. I would not trust it at all. 

Even MLS generated CMA's from realtors. I don't trust the figures that is computer generated. There are other variables and some mistakes that may skew the estimate..

I would only use as reference and you do your home work to come to a number.. 

Looking online for other comparable rentals is a good idea. Not Zestimates. I would also suggest calling a local property manager. They should be able to give you some insight on rent you could expect for a property as well as the neighborhood etc

I am not going to bash Zillow but I do not use this site for my analysis. I would network with a realtor so you are able to get very accurate comps. 

If you are going to use Zillow, I would supplement that with Redfin and 1 other source. 

@Joseph Daugert  it great to see you becoming familiar with the numbers.  @Jeremy Gunn suggestion is what I recommend - talk with property managers.  

One piece of advice - the money is made in the sale.  Make sure you are getting a deal in the purchase price, that's the where true deals are found.  

Hope you land a real deal.

Zillow is not accurate when an area has below grade square footage. Zillow uses the total square feet for its algorithm and not adjusted total square feet (finished basements count as 50% of above grade SW footage and unfinished basements count at 25%).

For rental comps, try rentometer.com (free). It's okay but not awesome. Better is rentrange.com but it's not free.

Originally posted by @Joseph Daugert :

... Are the Zillow rent estimates worth any consideration or are they just pie in the sky guesses?...

It isn't a "pie in the sky" guess but there are tons of instances were a zestimate will be 'way off'. You want to use some sort of MLS based comps which does mean getting a realtor involved.

@Joseph Daugert , any many have pointed out, zillow is not always accurate but it gives you the ballpark. 

Another way to use zillow is to look at the "for rent" listings in the area you are interested in and see what the listing for rent prices for different types of properties. I also use craigslist the same way.

I find Zillow to be within a hundred thousand for value in a cheap house but fairly accurate on rent estimates. Good place to start and use for a benchmark.

I find for the most part to be in the ball park, sometimes the info is just off. But all in all it is just another resource

I like to compare Zillow  with hot pads and then I check rent range and a couple of other sources so I can make an educated guess. I hope this helps.

Hit-or-Miss in Seattle and surrounding areas. Gets close to real values in some neighborhoods, not even close to others. There are a lot of factors that it can't account for. However, we use it frequently to figure out values of homes based on what was sold that's comparable to property we look at.

For rents, we tend to favor Craigslist.

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