For the prospective homeowner or home seller, Zillow is your digital best friend. As good as, if not better than, a personal realtor, Zillow tells you everything you want to know about the housing market in the area you’d like to move to. The difficulty comes when you start trying to narrow down your search. There’s more to it than finding homes for sale, however, and the discerning home purchaser would do well to use all its helpful facets during a home search.
Understanding The Icons
When you search for a zip code, you’ll be presented with a map of the area, plus a plethora of colored arrows and dollar amounts.
• Red arrows – homes currently for sale and their accompanying dollar amounts indicate their listing price.
• Blue arrows – potential listings that are either foreclosed or soon-to-be foreclosed upon.
• Purple arrows – rentals with the monthly rental amount displayed.
• Yellow arrows – recently sold homes and the price they went for
• White arrows – only visible when zoomed in upon the map, indicating homes not currently for sale and the amount Zillow estimates they are worth
Defining The Zestimate
When you select a home, it presents you with a Zestimate of the home’s value. According to Zillow’s website, this amount “is Zillow’s estimated market value for an individual home and is calculated for about 100 million homes nationwide. It is a starting point in determining a home’s value and is not an official appraisal.” Home searches should be aware that Zillow bases this value on reported facts about the house, so if the facts are incorrect or there has been a recent renovation not reported to the local tax assessor, the home value will not reflect that amount.
Along with a Zestimate, the site provides you with an estimated monthly mortgage based on the estimated value, a 30 year loan, a 4.125% interest rate, and a 20 % down payment.
Decrypting The Graphs
Each house with information available on the site also has a graph which shows up to 10 years of figures. One line on the graph shows the home’s value over time. Another line shows the average value of homes in the zip code. And another line shows the value of homes in the city. By comparing these lines, you can see which end of the spectrum the home lies in the area’s housing values and understand how its value has changed. If you join Zillow, making a free account, you can have access to their forecast feature which estimates whether the home will continue to rise or fall in value in the future.
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