Mortgage and Portfolio Loan Guide

brighton mi mortgage zillow advantages

Embrace the Z

“Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there’s got to be a way through it.”

-Michael J. Fox

When you have a powerhouse website, consisting of a wealth of information, that serves as a resource for millions of people, there are going to be some naysayers. I hear real estate professionals and mortgage pros bad mouthing Zillow as if their negativity will somehow alter the house-hunters buying habits.

Here’s the bottom line: When people think about buying a house, they are likely to use Zillow as a resource at some point in the game.

Why fight it? Why discredit a top resource for buyers, sellers, homeowners, etc? Here are a couple of reasons there is some general push-back:

Home Value

Oh boy, here we go. A potential seller takes a look at the estimate Zillow gives them and they are blown away by the equity they have gained in the last couple years. They are so excited and feel they could make a great profit. There is a feeling of anticipation that they will finally have the opportunity to upgrade to the home of their dreams with the proceeds of the sale of their home. They contact their Realtor to list the home.Stop crying about zillow

Now the Realtor (the real-life expert) has an opportunity to showcase their expertise in the market. There is a bit of a let down because of a difference in opinion of home value between the Realtor and the Zillow estimate. But that’s okay. This is where the opportunity lies. The Realtor is able to tactfully explain how homes in the area that are similar to the seller’s home have sold. This is where the Realtor gets to roll their sleeves up and use the facts.

Fair market value is an opinion. Zillow uses formulas to come up with values which are beyond my pay grade, but that doesn’t mean they are going to be accurate. Let’s be real here. If Zillow was right, there would be no need for an appraiser. And even if a buyer is willing to pay a certain price for a home, the appraiser may still come back and give a different opinion of fair market value. Even more interesting, a different appraiser can come up with a different value than the original appraiser.

Why? Value is an opinion! An opinion of how different factors like age, amenities, condition, location, and size can impact the value of a home. Another huge factor is which comparables (recent sales of similar homes within a reasonable distance from the subject property) to use on the appraisal report. When selecting the comps the appraiser is responsible for finding and using the sales of properties that are most similar to the subject property (the home that is being sold). If the appraisal comes in lower than the agreed upon purchase price the buyer will either have to put more down (depending on the loan program, and how much they were originally putting down) or the purchase price will need to be renegotiated between the buyer and seller.

The estimate of value on Zillow is simply a starting point. It’s on the local experts to be effective communicators on their market, not Zillow-bashers.

Pre-approval

A hopeful home buyer can get a pre-approval in minutes on Zillow. The system will ask for general info and pop out a thumbs up or thumbs down so that the consumer can get an idea of where they stand.

The only problem is that there are so many factors that go into a mortgage approval which require an in-depth evaluation of a borrower, and their current circumstances. These instant pre-approvals go against everything I stand for when it comes to setting proper expectations for a home buyer. However, it does give them a place to start. Yes there are disclosures below it that pretty much state nothing is for sure until you talk to your lender, but that is likely to be overlooked because they already see they’re “good-to-go”.

Again, it’s just a starting point. For a true understanding of where you stand, contact your local loan officer. If you did happen to get a thumbs down, and don’t meet typical mortgage standards, here is a great solution.

So why do people use it?

Well first of all, have you seen the Zillow commercials?

The emotion involved in the home buying process is beautifully expressed in their marketing efforts. Their app is easy to use. Not happy home love only can you find upcoming open houses, but also previous tax info, neighborhood trends, estimated payment, etc. You can save the properties you like, and keep browsing. It’s very user-friendly. Are there other websites that offer the same or similar features? Sure, but I promise you they do not have the online visibility and recognition that Zillow has.

There is an advice section on the website where anyone can ask any question pertaining to home ownership. Consumers ask, experts answer. This is awesome because people are able to discuss private matters without having to give out their personal information. This is a huge win for consumers because they can protect their pride, get their questions answered, and not have to deal with a pushy salesperson. It’s a win/win for everyone.

There are some “experts” on these advice forums that really have no business giving advice, but that’s okay too! The consumer is able to weed through the responses, and decide for themselves who is the most credible resource for their particular situation. At that point they can contact the expert through their Zillow profile. Voila, the referral process begins. Best part? It’s free! Now you have two people connecting who may otherwise would not have crossed paths.

The beauty of this is that the consumer is able to do so much research in one place. Is all the information they find going to be spot on? Probably not, but they are able to connect with an expert who will help them connect the dots, and get answers to the questions that were previously a mystery. All this, done from their couch, while sipping eggnog.

Zillow Testimonials

Last but not least, let’s talk about testimonials. Genuine testimonials. They’re huge. You know it, I know it. So wouldn’t testimonialsit make sense to at least ask for a review on the site that everyone goes to when they research home buying?

People want to know what it’s like working with you before they call you. It’s one thing for you to have testimonials on your personal website or your Facebook page. It’s another thing to have reviews posted on a top website with millions of unique visitors on a daily basis. Alexa.com (a resource for web analytics) tells me that Zillow is the 62nd most popular website in the United States, and ranks 235th in the entire world. Not the 62nd most popular real estate website, but the 62nd most popular website regardless of industry or subject matter. Not only that, but average daily page views per visitor are sitting at about 7.9. That’s an insanely high number of average page views in case you were wondering. Hmm, I wonder if having your stuff on there might be a good idea? Just a thought. Either that or you can keep crying to your friends and family about why it’s such a pile of garbage. Up to you I guess.

Here’s the thing, nothing will ever substitute the special interaction between the homeowner and the real estate pro. Don’t be afraid of the world-wide web robots taking control of the planet. The human connection will always be the irreplaceable element in anything we do. As experts we might as well embrace these tools and leverage them to our advantage. There is enough to go around 🙂

Do you agree? What other advantages do you love about Zillow? What are some other disadvantages that you’re not a big fan of?

Adam Lesner | Mortgage Loan Officer NMLS 198818 | Brighton, Michigan

Comments (2)

  1. Want to stop hating Zillow? Stop paying for leads and generate your own! If you can’t do that, suck it up and stop hating the hand that feeds you. Of course you could always affiliate with a Brand that generates more qualified leads. Just saying that the issue may not be Zillow but might be a flaw in your way of doing business.

    • Michael, I completely agree with you. Furthermore, there are several ways to generate business via Zillow by using the many tools available to professionals which are completely free! How have you used Zillow to your advantage in your business?

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