They say you can find anything on the Internet, and that may be true.
But while you may be able to find anything and everything, that doesn’t mean what you find is accurate. Such is the case with Zillow, one of the most popular real estate websites.
Zillow provides what it calls a “Zestimate” or an estimated selling price for your home based on homes that have sold in your area. During the reassessment appeals over the last three years in Allegheny County, property owners have attempted to use Zillow figures as evidence, only to find out they are being rejected by the county. It turns out the Allegheny County Assessment office isn’t the only agency where the Zillow figures are not carrying any credibility.
Northwood Realty recently pulled all of its real estate listings from Zillow, citing inaccurate and outdated information.
Zillow states on its website that the estimated values in the greater Pittsburgh area are within 20 percent of the accurate sales price 81 percent of the time.
“That’s not very accurate at all,” said Northwood Realty CEO and president Tom Hosack. “We have been receiving complaints from sellers about what’s on Zillow’s website for some time. We tried to bear with it, due to the prominence of the website. But in the end, we have to take care of our sellers and the accuracy of the Information.”
Other major real estate agencies, such as Howard Hanna and Re-Max, have not followed suit. According to comScore, a company that monitors real estate internet traffic, Zillow is the No. 1 real estate website in Western Pennsylvania.
Zillow does provide a service for those who are interested in buying, or selling, property. But it should not be considered best evidence for property assessment appeals.
The assessment appeal practice at Steidl and Steinberg is built around the report from residential or commercial appraisers who will inspect a client’s property and research recent sales of similar properties as close as possible in the municipality and school district. A certified appraisal takes the guesswork and estimation out of determining a property’s value.
That’s why we have been so successful in appealing property tax assessments.
If you have any questions about the property tax assessment process, particularly in Allegheny and Washington County, feel free to give us a call. We won’t look your house up on Zillow. We work with licensed professionals, and we get it right.