We live in an amazing time right now. A time where we have access to unlimited amounts of information that fits in the pockets of our pants. Did you know there is more technology in our smart phones that in the spaceship Neil Armstrong stepped out of on to the moon! It's crazy! But all of the information could also work against you. What is real and what is fake? Fake news is all around us and in real estate, it is no different. Many of the sites consumers access are filled with data that is sadly, mostly inaccurate.
One of the biggest sites, if not the biggest is Zillow. Zillow is full of lots of great information. Great details on the property, things to do in the area around the building, and of course the listing photos. The one thing it really can't do, is give you an accurate price of that property. Zillow's pricing estimate or ZESTIMATE is not a true representation of the market value of that property. A Zestimate is just an estimate based on an algorithm that takes into account, beds/baths, size, and location. A Zestimate does not look into the condition of the property, the floor level it's on if it's in a large condo building, the view, which way the unit faces, and if has parking or a balcony. The ONLY way to get the true market value of a unit is for a real estate agent to pull the comparables or "comps" for that property. A Zestimate is OK to start with when looking at pricing but when it comes to making an offer, make sure your does a market analysis for you. Let the professional show you the value based on all of the factors I mentioned above.
Also, a quick note on the tax assessors assessment of value. I've had clients bring up this value as well when it comes to the market value of a property. The tax assessor uses a similar algorithm as Zillow. It is just an estimate and not the true value. Think about it; there are millions of properties in Chicago, do you really think the city sends people out to assess each one? We don't have the money for that no matter how may parking tckets I have gotten this year!
If you want to see an example of a market analysis please look at Chapter 11 of the CHapter Resources tab of my site. I have a sample one you can download there.