Zillow is a free, on-line resource that reports home values from across the country to the public. Information is reported to the website by realtors is also gathered by the website from public databases. It then uses all the information to compare and form its’ own interpretation of the data.
How do I Effectively Use Zillow.com?
Open Zillow from your internet browser.
Enter the address of the Tax Foreclosure Property including city and state in the box labeled, “Find Homes”. For example, enter “3447 Hilllsdale Lane, Garland, TX”.
What you will see – Section One
- A map with the property you requested indicated by a small inset box with the address and additional information (discussed later in this article).
- A box with potential checkmarks beside the words, “For Sale, For Rent, Make Me Move and Recently Sold”.
You can check any or all, but the results will primarily be those homes for sale, because the other information is not yet reported consistently.
- Data below the map will indicate homes in the area for sale for rent, etc. (depending on which boxes you checked).
Click on the address of the tax foreclosure property that you previously entered and another screen will appear providing additional details about the property. This is the main screen where you will find most of the information regarding your property.
What you will see – Section Two
For Sale Price – To the left of the photograph, you will find a “For Sale” price or a “Recently Sold” price if either case applies as well as a “Zestimate” and a “Mortgage” price. The “Zestimate” is Zillow’s prediction of market value for your particular property based on its’ interpretation of the market information. The Mortgage estimate is based on current mortgage rates applied to the “Zestimate”, but these rates are based on this property being purchased as a primary home, not as an investment property. Do not use this in your analysis of property values, because most likely, your mortgage payment will be higher. Estimate your own mortgage payment or contact your local financial institution for a quote.
In the same area, basic information will also be listed about the property, generally drawn from local tax records. Although this information is conveniently located here, do not be tempted to draw information from this site only as even this basic information has been known to be incorrect. Use it as a guide, but check your facts at your local Central Appraisal District website.
Interpretations of Market Data – Below the photograph and basic information is where Zillow’s interpretation of market values is located. “Rent Zestimate” is Zillow’s estimate of monthly rent for a home or an apartment in that area with similar characteristics. As with the “Zestimate” and the “Rent Zestimate”, this is an interpretation of data and is subjective, but it is a good starting point. Also, the smaller the range offered, the more data on which the estimate is based and the more accurate the estimate.
Graphs – The graphs at the bottom of the page are also useful in helping to access your property as they provide you with a glimpse of a variety of categories over a period of time. Click on the options to the left of the graph to view the categories below and select the time period in which you want to view these categories directly below the categories. The orange line represents your particular property. The yellow line represents the zip code of your property. The green line represents the city of your property.
- Zestimate – the website’s interpreted property value
- Zestimate Change – the percentage of change in value over a specific time period. Use this graph to see if the property is holding its’ value, decreasing or increasing.
- Rent Zestimate – the website’s interpreted rent value
- Listing price – Sales listing prices over time
- Tax Assessment – The Value assessed by the city for taxes
- Tax Paid – The Amount paid by the owners for taxes.
- Page Views – How often a person has looked at the statistics on this property at this site.
The final section is located below the graphs.
What you will see – Section Three
- Price History – a list of all reported “Sales Prices” by realtors
- Tax History – A Year by year chart of taxes owed
- Maps and Views – A map identifying neighboring attractions
- Monthly Payments – A breakdown of the estimated monthly mortgage payment
Overall, Zillow provides a wealth of basic information along with an analysis and interpretation of the data. Definitely use it as a guide, but always remember that the highest form of accuracy is when you double check all data with your own sources!