Carlsbad Real Estate News and Views: What Carlsbad Home Buyers Should Consider When Using Zillow

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What Carlsbad Home Buyers Should Consider When Using Zillow

Home Searches and Estimates of Value

What You Should Know About Zillow


You may or may not be using Zillow in your Carlsbad home search – but many buyers do. If you are a Zillow user, however, there are some important things to understand about this popular website.


By the way, if you are also planning to sell your Carlsbad home, there are things homeowners should know about when using Zillow.


Searching online on ZillowSEARCHING ON ZILLOW

First, Zillow commonly pulls listings from other websites, as other sites do, and as a result some listings you see may not be accurate or up to date.


That’s not to say you should not use Zillow for home searches.


But be aware some listings that appear on Zillow have already been sold or are not actually available (e.g., some pre-foreclosure and foreclosure listings – they are marked that way so watch for this). And in some cases pricing may not be accurate.


As you are searching for homes, you should also keep in mind that not all public listings are on Zillow.


So what does that mean for you?


You may miss out on properties that fit your needs and budget if you only use this site for your home searching. Just this morning I looked in my Carlsbad zip code of 92010 – the MLS has 24 detached single family homes for sale, while Zillow shows 14!


Talk with your Realtor about getting the up to date listing information you need and to check on listings that interest you when you find them on your own.


Online estimates of valueESTIMATES OF VALUE 

Secondly, you probably know that Zillow provides estimates of value for homes called Zestimates. The issue with Zestimates is that they are often incorrect – they may be low or they may be high for a given property, and sometimes that difference can be thousands and thousands of dollars.


This is true for other online estimators as well, and the differences among them can be significant in some cases.


Why is this important to know?


It is obviously not a smart strategy to make an offer on a property if a Zestimate is wrong. Unfortunately, if you are not working with a Realtor you won’t know if that’s true.


Using a Zestimate, or any other online valuation, is not the right way to come up with an appropriate offer price – your Realtor will help by reviewing looking at comparable recent sales and other information to advise you on what the market value really is and how to make the best offer, especially if you are competing with other agents.


Consider this. Making an offer based on a Zestimate that is lower than what the true market value is means you will likely not be successful. (Read more about other ways that buyers can sabotage their offers.)


On the other hand, you certainly would not want to submit an offer on a home based on Zestimate that is higher than market value if that’s the case. I know a recent seller whose Zestimate was substantially below what 3 Realtors told him the current market value was (they were all the same). Good thing he listened when listing rather than going with the Zestimate (interestingly one other popular online valuation was almost $100K over the market value).


As a concerned buyer you should understand that online home value estimates do not take into account some factors that influence a home’s true market value, such as location, views, amenities and condition, which is why they may not be accurate. Realtors, and appraisers, know this, and know how to make the appropriate adjustments in pricing. I don’t think Zestimates can do that!


And these evaluations might not be based on appropriate comparable sales, such as including a single story home sale when the subject property is a 2-story, or a recent refinance on the house.


Home Buyer HandbookWHAT TO DO

Bottom line? There is nothing wrong with using Zillow to search.


Just be aware of potential problems around accuracy and missing listings.


And as far as looking home value estimates up, while you might enjoy the immediate response of learning what homes you like MAY be worth according to Zillow, a prudent buyer will not make buying decisions based on Zestimates, or any other online estimations, at least if you want to successfully buy a home.


It's important to  talk to your Realtor for the most sound and accurate advice!!


When searching on Zillow, or other sites, if there are particular properties in Carlsbad or nearby that interest you, feel free to contact me at (760) 840-1360 so we can discuss your particular needs and budget, and verify those properties for you in the MLS. And of course we’ll discuss the market value after seeing a home you like if you are ready to make an offer.


You can search the complete inventory in Carlsbad by clicking on the photo to the right (the MLS is updated 24/7).


Or we can discuss your budget and criteria and I will set up a custom search for you for Carlsbad, or nearby.


If I can help further in any way, or answer any questions about the housing market conditions, the purchase or sale process, or specific neighborhoods, please reach out to me at (760) 840-1360.



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Serving Carlsbad (including Aviara, La Costa & Carlsbad Village),  Encinitas (including Leucadia & Olivenhain), Cardiff, Solana Beach, Del Mar, La Jolla, Rancho Santa Fe, San Marcos (including San Elijo Hills), Oceanside, Escondido, and  Greater San Diego

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Solutions Real Estate (CA DRE lic #01490977)

Comment balloon 40 commentsJeff Dowler, CRS • August 10 2018 12:49AM


In general the supplies with most interactions with Zillow has its own kind of hub and still works pretty well! :)

Posted by Laura Cerrano, Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher (Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island) about 1 year ago

Jeff great points, the short answer is use a Realtor and do not rely on the Z platform... I asked a potential buyer today how he found me and he told me it was through The Red... platform and I told him TG it was not on Z because at least he had accurate information about my listing, Endre

Posted by Endre Barath, Jr., Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002 (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices) about 1 year ago

Morning Jeff.

Earlier this year I confronted our local MLS about selling our listing to Z. In the end I lost of course.  It's all about the $$$.  

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty) about 1 year ago

this is such a good post to share with buyers and get them to  use our own apps

Posted by Lise Howe, Assoc. Broker and Attorney Licensed in DC, MD, VA, (Keller Williams Capital Properties) about 1 year ago

Good morning, Jeff Dowler, CRS neither buyers nor sellers should be using Z... they would be wise to call you, Jeff Dowler, a well-versed real estate agent for guidance with both buying and selling....

Posted by Barbara Todaro, Marketing Agent for The Todaro Team (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) about 1 year ago

Hi Jeff... great post. What you wrote about is what I discuss with my clients and prospects when they contact me about a home on Zillow or a Zesstimate... when I'm done with them, 99% stop using Zillow and ask where to search, which is the perfect opening to getting them onto my website.

Posted by Nina Hollander, Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage ) about 1 year ago

Good morning Jeff. You can't stop it but you can warn people about the problems. Hopefully they choose well. Enjoy your day!

Posted by Wayne Martin, Real Estate Broker - Retired (Wayne M Martin) about 1 year ago

There are a lot of real estate tools out there and to only consider one is making a big mistake. One needs to use all the resources before making decisions.

Posted by Joe Pryor, REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties (The Virtual Real Estate Team) about 1 year ago

Jeff- the smart thing to do is hire a professional, experienced agent such as yourself!!!

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) about 1 year ago

Hi Endre Barath, Jr. 

That's definitely wise advice. I do look at Z myself regularly so I know what's going on and am familiar enough with it to talk intelligently with buyers and sellers, despite the issues.


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (Solutions Real Estate ) about 1 year ago

Yes indeedy James Dray  and those pockets are pretty deep. They've come a long way and need to keep stockholders and investors happy!


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (Solutions Real Estate ) about 1 year ago

Absolutely sage advice, Jeff! I have this talk with someone at least once a day, it seems! I don't know when this 'madness' will ever end but, I can tell you that there will be some happy, happy real estate agents when it does...if ever it does!

Posted by Debe Maxwell, CRS, Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods ( | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310) about 1 year ago

Congratulations on the featured post. I hope consumers will read it and learn.

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) about 1 year ago

Jeff, what a great resource you created to share about Zillow, nothing like using a local agent.

Posted by Steven Nickens, R(S)GRI ABR, Maui Real Estate Hawaii (Elite Pacific Properties Maui) about 1 year ago

Thank you Lise Howe  The main thing is for Z users to understand what they are working with and to not depend on it as the truth.


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (Solutions Real Estate ) about 1 year ago

The good thing Barbara Todaro the good thing is using Z makes it easy for us to come along and show our value.


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (Solutions Real Estate ) about 1 year ago

Nina Hollander 

I think that's a great strategy and I do the same. Sadly I think there are many consumers who do not realize some of these issues, but at least those working with a Realtor will find out.


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (Solutions Real Estate ) about 1 year ago

Hi Wayne Martin 

That's a great point! They are still going to use it, for a variety of reasons, but as long as they realize the issues and don't make important decisions based on what they Z and consult us that's the best we can hope for.

Have a great weekend!


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (Solutions Real Estate ) about 1 year ago

Amen!  I had a buyer who thought that we as Realtors use Zillow to price our listings!  She just couldn't figure out how we came up with a listing price if we didn't use Zillow. 

Posted by Francine Viola, REALTOR®, In Tune with your Real Estate Needs (Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty, Olympia WA) about 1 year ago

Zillow has one of my listings - a paid for home - listed as a Foreclosure. They will not change. Zillow is low on accuracy. Thanks for the posting Jeff.

Posted by Steve Davis, Carlsbad CA (Davis Coastal Properties) about 1 year ago

Thank's for the post Jeff, great info!  Happy Friday from Santa Cruz, CA !

Posted by Pete Cullen ~ Broker Associate, Serving The Entire Monterey Bay Area (Bailey Properties, Inc.) about 1 year ago

Jeff Dowler, CRS ~ I love this post, it is very informative... The one thing that I see differently is "there's nothing wrong using Z" I would argue that for the best information you should always go directly to the source. And in this case not only is Z "not" the direct source, Z is not even regulated...(my 2cents) 

Posted by Jon Kolsky, Licensed California Real Estate Broker (Kolsky Realty & Management) about 1 year ago

Our Denver MLS is pretty in tune with Zillow.  We haven't had too many issues with out of date listings for our buyers.  

Posted by Kevin Mackessy, Dedicated. Qualified. Local. (Blue Olive Properties, LLC) about 1 year ago

Joe Pryor 

And some resources are better than others, right? Consumers don't always know that.

Have a great weekend!


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (Solutions Real Estate ) about 1 year ago

Good evening Jeff Dowler, CRS ,

Excellent post and so glad to see it featured. In Texas we are a non-disclosure state so Zillow is really off in their Zestimates!! I'm always having to explain this!!

Posted by Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR, Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate (Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899) about 1 year ago

Kathy Streib  - no arguments here about using a knowledgeable professional for getting the best information on the housing market!


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (Solutions Real Estate ) about 1 year ago

Hey Jeff, good rundown on the negs and pos's of Zillow.  I don't have access to MLS but I wonder if Zillow has some way of determining condition of a house as it seems some waterfront property here in Maitland doesn't seem to be priced correctly.  Anyhoo.

I bounced onto your listings and WOW.  Carlsbad is awesome!  What great beaches and real estate!  No wonder you must love it there!

Posted by John Henry, Residential Architect, Luxury Custom Home Design (John Henry Masterworks Design International, Inc.) about 1 year ago

Great article!

Posted by Christina Steinhaus, Real Estate Agent serving the Palm Beaches (Coldwell Banker Residential Property) about 1 year ago

Jeff Dowler, CRS There is no doubt Z brings more cinsumers with questions to me than any other source. From estimates to homes on line but not for sale anymore. 

Posted by Scott Godzyk, One of the Manchester NH's area Leading Agents (Godzyk Real Estate Services) about 1 year ago

Jeff, I worked with a buyer for over a year looking for the right home. She would send me 2-10 listings she wanted to see. There were days where they were all sold and as far back as 2009. She thought there was something wrong with me and my ability to search homes. No, it was Zs poor housekeeping. 

Posted by Mike Cooper, GRI, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro (Cornerstone Business Group Inc) about 1 year ago

Fantastic article Jeff! I hope someday they are held accountable for their inaccuracies on many levels. They say they are there to start a conversation with consumers, while instead, misleading the consumer!

Posted by Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!, So Utah Residential, Referral & Relocation REALTOR (Prado Real Estate South) about 1 year ago

Currently I have a listing and we lowered the price on it but Zillow kept the old price on it unfortunately.

Posted by Eva B. Liland Century 21 Doug Anderson, Glad to be of Service 661-714-1643 (Century 21 Doug Anderson) about 1 year ago

Zillow still shows my property as lot only. I've had a house on it for 4 years.

Posted by Anne Corbin, Serving Lake Anna & Central Virginia (Long and Foster - Lake Anna) about 1 year ago

Jeff, this is a great post! Buyers really do need to realize that Zillow may be a great place to start, but that a local professional is much more in tune with market value and what is actually available!

Posted by Marney Kirk, Towson, Maryland Real Estate (Cummings & Co. Realtors) about 1 year ago

When Z is inaccurate and they make mistakes a lot, you also spend your own time fixing it... sometimes to no avail. User friendly but it's surely not up date.

Posted by Virginia Kazlouskas (Gregory), Your Southern NH Realtor! (Harmony Real Estate, Inc.) about 1 year ago

Excellent blog!  You give all the reasons why buyers need to do more due diligence rathern than just accept what they see/find on Zillow.  Buyers in your area would be wise to seek your advice with your many years in the business!  

Posted by Jan Green, HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN (Value Added Service, 602-620-2699) about 1 year ago

Debe Maxwell, CRS 

I suspect online valuations are NOT going to go away, and unless something changes they are not going to get much more accurate. But the good news for us is we know how they work, where they are wrong, and can continue to educate our buyers and sellers.


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (Solutions Real Estate ) about 1 year ago

Thanks Gita Bantwal  Hopefully they will!

Steven Nickens  Totally agree with you about the value of a local agent. Any agent worth their salt can tell you more about market value than Z.


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (Solutions Real Estate ) about 1 year ago

Gad Francine Viola  can you imagine relying on Z to come up with pricing? Yes, I think it makes sense to look at Zestimates so we are prepared with speaking with sellers, but beyond that it makes no sense!


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (Solutions Real Estate ) about 1 year ago

I agree - seeing an end to them would be a dream-come-true but, as you said, we otherwise continue to educate, educate, educate!

Happy Thursday, Jeff!

Posted by Debe Maxwell, CRS, Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods ( | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310) about 1 year ago