Zillow Brings Zestimates to Leavenworth


Last week Zillow, the online real estate portal, announced that they had done some big changes to their database.

 We added Zestimates to more than 25 million new homes, bringing the number of homes on Zillow with data, Zestimates and Rent Zestimates to approximately 100 million. That's more than three-quarters of all homes in the country. We improved the algorithm models that better incorporate user-submitted data and market data. This has improved the Zestimate median margin of error to 8.5 percent nationwide. Previously, it was 12.7 percent.

As was expected, home value estimates (called "zestimates") changed in some parts of the country and they weren't always accurate.

Zillow explains how they derive these Zestimates:

We compute this figure by taking zillions of data points - much of this data is public - and entering them into a formula. This formula is built using what our statisticians call "a proprietary algorithm" - big words for "secret formula."  Currently, we have data, Zestimates and Rent Zestimates on approximately 100 million homes on Zillow.

For years, I've just been a spectator when it comes to the much debated Zestimates because Chelan County and Leavenworth haven't been given zestimates in the past. The online data needed from the Chelan County Assessors office and/ or sold data from local Multiple Listing Services wasn't available to help Zillow with their zestimates.

Until now..

How did Zillow do? I'd probably give them an F. I could give them a D or D- for trying but I think almost any observer could tell that the data isn't very good.

My first example is a listing I have for sale. It's a condo at Alpine Place  off Icicle Road.

Zillow has always had a problem with duplicate listings, but it's funny when THE SAME HOUSE gets two different zestimates. (It must be the quarter bath?)

Next up, I decided to spot check some listings. What better place than to look at houses that recently sold.

This is public data and these are houses that have closed, recorded with the county and many of them were financed by a bank and appraised. I used the last 10 home sales in Leavenworth that Zillow has data for.

Sold Price $700,000 Zestimate $246,400

Sold Price $213,000 Zestimate $157,600

Sold Price $205,00 Zestimate $56,000

Sold Price $230,000  Zestimate $162,700

Sold Price $609,500 Zestimate $260,200

Sold Price $165,000 Zestimate $185,700 

Sold Price $330,000 Zestimate $209,000

Sold Price $280,000 Zestimate 170,000

Sold Price $225,000 Zestimate $127,100

Sold Price $207,000 Zestimate $85,000

So what do you think? Is Zillow a credible source for info on the value of your home?

Would you use Zillow to help price your home for sale or to help you decide how much to offer on a house for sale?


Required Disclaimer

NOTE: This representation is based in whole or in part on data supplied by the North Central Washington Association of Realtors or its Multiple Listing Service. Neither the Association nor its MLS guarantees or are in any way responsible for its accuracy. Data maintained by the Association or its MLS may not reflect all real estate activity in the Market.



Rachel- It's interesting to see the changes. Most of the sold homes I listed now have zestimates that are higher than their recent sales prices. This is ironic considering that many houses listed for sale have very low zestimates. Sounds like there is still work to be done.

Update: We have fixes for Chelan rolling to the site this afternoon. There are a couple additional fixes that should dial in accuracy even a bit more that may be online next week. To all: Feel free to forward any other ones that you think point to systematic issues that we can address. rachelr at zillow dot com

I've received a few emails from Zillow including one from Stan Humphries their chief economist. I'd guess we see some improvements in Chelan County pretty soon.

Hi Geordie, Rachel from Zillow here. The reason for the discrepancy in the two Alpine listings above, is because we are getting two different addresses. One has a unit number, and one does not. listing without unit # http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/525-Alpine-Pl-Leavenworth-WA-98826/85980169_zpid/ It appears your brokerage maybe uses Cevado as a feed provider. They are not sending us a unit number and the bathroom count they are sending us is 1.75 The one with a unit number is coming from Windermere directly: http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/525-Alpine-Pl-APT-A2-Leavenworth-WA-98826/2138655918_zpid/ Windermere corporate is sending us a unit number and 2 bathroom count. Check with your broker to see if they use Cevado as their feed provider. For the zestimates, please send us the addresses so we can look into it. I looked up recently solds and didn't see any for $700K. Thanks! As we gather more information for Chelan County, the zestimates will improve. Regards, Rachel

It's been my experience that zestimates are great when you are shopping in a stable cookie cutter neighborhood where every house offers the exact same amenities and an agent could probably do the same math in his head if given the square footage, otherwise all bets are off. One thing that I've noticed that really throws zillow off in my neck of the wood is lot size. I'm sure they don't ignore this, but it seems like they figure price per sq.ft. with no regard as to whether it's the land or the home making the improvement and that throws them off big time when the lot sizes vary from .10 acres to 5 acres right next to each other.

Rachel- I am curious where you are getting your sold data from. Are you getting this from Chelan County, a MLS feed or another source? The $700,000 house that sold recently actually sold in February as well in the high $600,000s so there should be good data on this house. It's odd to me that zestimates don't match up with either recent sold data or with the county assessments.

Daniel- we don't really have any cookie cutter neighborhoods in Leavenworth. The closest we have to something like that is condo developments and even in the condos they seem to be really far off. Look at my example above. Listed for $179,000 and zestimate of $71,700? A recent distressed sale condo sold for DOUBLE that earlier this year.

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Allyson and Geordie Romer

Leavenworth real estate agents - Allyson and Geordie Romer

For over a decade, Allyson and Geordie have been serving clients in the Lake Wenatchee and Leavenworth real estate market. Together, they work tirelessly to stay on top of the regional market and present the most relevant opportunities to their clientele.

When not in the office, they can be found exploring the endless recreation opportunities of the area in all of its seasons.




Geordie provided excellent real estate representation! We appreciated his detailed knowledge of the market, his up front and honest approach, and his negotiation skills.
As reviewed on Zillow  – 

- Laura Anderson



As “west siders” looking for a getaway near Leavenworth, Geordie provided insight … his knowledge of design features important in a “snowy winter wonderland” was appreciated. Thanks Geordie!
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- Jean Stern



Geordie made this somewhat complicated transition easier for us…going above and beyond to help us work through issues that came up during the sale of our parents home. We appreciated his knowledge, attentiveness to details and his willing spirit.
Our family is grateful for Geordie!
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- Terry Foster



Geordie was great in every way. We have been looking in the Leavenworth area for some time, and Geordie was absolutely the best for local knowledge, history and depth on neighborhoods, developments and the local market trends. He was very quick to respond (even when he was on his vacation) and worked very diligently to get all of our questions answered in a very timely fashion. We would recommend him highly to anyone looking to buy or sell a home. Very friendly, and helped us navigate all of the local options before we made an offer on the property that we purchased. Thank you, Geordie!

As reviewed on Zillow  – 

- Ryan Olsen



It was such a pleasure to work with Geordie and his wife, Allyson on our cabin purchase. They showed us a variety of locations, listened to what we wanted and helped us find the perfect match. Everything was smooth and not stressful, just relaxed and easy. We would definitely recommend Geordie and use him again if the need arises!

As reviewed on Zillow  – 

- Cammie Schlosser


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