Should I use an online estimator (like Zillow) to estimate the value of a home I am considering buying or selling?

We are often asked by homeowners (and potential homeowners) about the information they find on Zillow.com. Zillow provides something they call a “Zestimate” for every property in their database – whether it’s for sale or not. They come up with these estimates of value by aggregating information from various public databases – tax records, value trends, etc and then they use a proprietary formula to make a calculation.

Zillow is very popular with both Home Buyers and Home Sellers. Buyers moving to Northern Virginia often preview listings on Zillow before they come to actually see homes. And they often want to make their offers on homes based upon what they see in Zillow as the “Zestimate”. We also frequently meet with prospective Sellers in Northern Virginia who have looked at Zillow and assume the “Zestimate” is an accurate forecast of what their home will sell for.

Well – this year, The Belt Team decided to track the “Zestimates” for each home we sold so that we could see how they compared to actual sales prices. And while this is by no means a scientific study of all homes in Northern Virginia – we think it’s rather representative. (The Belt Team ranks in the Top Ten most productive Realtors out of 10,000+ Realtors in the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors.)

So . . . what did we find?

A LOT of variation!

  • One of our resale listings sold for 41% MORE than the Zestimate – $266,500 additional for this particular Seller. And another sold for 15% less than the Zestimate. In fact, 90% of our listings sold for well over the “Zestimate” and 43% of our listings sold for more than 6% above the “Zestimate”.
  • In addition, our new construction listings all sold for huge amounts over the “Zestimate”. This illustrates one of many flaws in their calculations. Since the assessed value of a property is one of the significant factors in the “Zestimate”, this obviously does not make sense when a new home is being built on an existing property.
  • On the Buyer side, 29% of the Buyers we represented paid well BELOW the “Zestimate”. One Buyer we represented paid $103,500 below the “Zestimate”. The reverse was true as well, as one Buyer in a particularly popular area bought a “unique” home and paid 25% more than the “Zestimate”.

Now, Zillow does say on its web site: “When it comes to unique homes (e.g., luxury mansions, unusual designs) we are less accurate in our Zestimates.” So the conclusion we draw is that while Zillow might be a good estimator for “cookie-cutter nieghborhoods & tract homes”, those mostly do not exist in Northern Virginia. If you are looking to buy or sell a home here, it’s definitely in your best interest to find a Realtor to represent you – one who is especially familiar with the neighborhood you want to buy or sell in!

And P.S. – This post is not meant to “bash” Zillow. In fact, we are one of Zillow’s Showcase advertisers and have been profiled & participating with Zillow for years. All of our listings are advertised on Zillow and we generate many buyers through our ads there. So Zillow does have value for Buyers and Sellers – we just want you to be clear on how you interpret the information you gather there!

Contact The Belt Team if you would like us to walk through your home with you and  discuss market value OR if you are a prospective Buyer who would like The Belt Team to represent you. It would be our pleasure to help make your real estate dreams come true. WE SPECIALIZE IN SUCCESS STORIES!

Open Houses in Vienna,VA & Oakton, VA- August 29

It’s the weekend! And that means it’s time for our Theme Song of the Week. Today, as we wind down the month of August, we bring you Carmen Rasmusen and “Nothin’ Like The Summer“. Listen and you’ll hear her sing “The world is full of music, dreams and lovers.”

So if you’re dreaming of a new home – scroll down, get directions to our open houses this weekend, gather up your loved ones and stop by to see us. Imagine – you just might make that dream come true! (But first – here’s “Nothin’ Like The Summer“):

Saturday, August 28th from 1PM to 4PM – 11918 Latigo Lane in Oakton – $749,000

~ Sunday, August 29th from 1PM to 4PM – 9505 Macy Avenue in Vienna – $1,085,000

~ Sunday, August 29th from 1PM to 4PM – 10507 Hunting Crest Lane in Vienna – $899,950

~ Sunday, August 29th from 1PM to 4PM – 11918 Latigo Lane in Oakton – $749,000

~ Sunday, August 29th from 1PM to 4PM – New Homes at Thistle Ridge in Vienna – $1,499,900 & Up

9505 Macy Avenue in Vienna – $1,085,000

This elegant brick front colonial is sited on a large cul-de-sac lot. You’ll especially enjoy the addition to the home that includes a delightful sunroom & 2nd casual eating area. There’s plenty of room for the family to gather, as well for for easy entertaining – with rec rooms on both the main and lower levels. The kitchen was updated in 2010 with granite countertops & stainless appliances. Plus there’s a spacious master suite with sitting room, 4 additional bedrooms. 3.5 baths, soaring ceilings, gleaming hardwoods & more. Madison HS pyramid!

Directions to Macy Avenue: From Tysons: Route 123 South, Right Beulah Rd, Left Abbotsford Dr, Right Percussion Way, Left Labrador Lane, Left Macy Avenue to #9505

More Info about 9505 Macy Avenue

11918 Latigo Lane in Oakton – $749,000

 

Lighthearted elegance and the ease of both family living & entertaining are the hallmarks of this lovely colonial sited on a gorgeous 1/2 acre lot. Enjoy an expansive front lawn and a pool & spa in a backyard surrounded by trees for the ultimate in privacy. Plus lots of 2010 updates inside – including fresh paint, a remodeled kitchen & new carpet in the finished walkout lower level. You’ll love the soaring ceiling & skylights in the family room with fireplace, the Eucalpytus hardwood floors throughout most of the main level, the in-law suite in the lower level & more!

Directions to Latigo Lane: Route 66 West to Route 50 West, North on West Ox, Right Waples Mill, Left Vale, Left Cobb Hill Lane, Left Latigo Lane to cul-de-sac.

More about 11918 Latigo Lane in Oakton

10507 Hunting Crest Lane in Vienna – $899,950

 

This charming home will become your own personal oasis, both inside and out! Enjoy a spectacular “two acre” lot complete with swimming pool, “beach” area and covered patio with tiki bar! The come inside and revel in the spaciousness throughout the home. It’s as perfect for family living as it is for entertaining. You’ll find 2 fireplaces, soaring ceilings in the living room & dining room, a sunny, spacious kitchen, main level library, 5 bedrooms and three full baths upstairs, plus a finished walkout lower level!

Directions to Hunting Crest: Dulles Toll Road West to Hunter Mill exit. Right on Hunter Mill, go past 3 way stop sign, right on Hunting Crest Lane to #10507.

More about 10507 Hunting Crest Lane in Vienna

Thistle Ridge in Vienna – $1,499,900 & Up

9604 Thistle Ridge in Vienna For Sale

Thistle Ridge is a breathtaking new home community from master builder Sekas Homes in Vienna. 9 new homes will be built on beautiful cul-de-sac lots! Four opportunities remain! Prices start at $1,499,900.

Directions to Thistle Ridge: From Rt 123 in Vienna, Proceed North on Beulah Road. Bear left on Clarks Crossing Road. 2nd Right on Brookside Lane. Right on Thistle Ridge to #9604.

Read about “Life In Vienna, VA

Contact The Belt Team

Just Listed – Macy Avenue in Vienna, VA!

OPEN HOUSE – SUNDAY (Aug 29) 1-4PM

This elegant brick front colonial is sited on a large cul-de-sac lot. You’ll especially enjoy the addition to the home that includes a delightful sunroom & 2nd casual eating area. There’s plenty of room for the family to gather, as well for for easy entertaining – with rec rooms on both the main and lower levels. The kitchen was updated in 2010 with granite countertops & stainless appliances. Plus there’s a spacious master suite with sitting room, 4 additional bedrooms. 3.5 baths, soaring ceilings, gleaming hardwoods & more. Madison HS pyramid! $1,085,000

More Info About 9505 Macy Avenue in Vienna

And you’ll love living in Vienna – read more about “Life In Vienna

Contact The Belt Team

Weekly Real Estate Update – Vienna, VA & Oakton, VA

Here are last week’s stats for Vienna Real Estate (22180,22181, 22182):

  • Number of Contracts: 9
  • Average Days on Market for Active Listings: 112 days
  • Average Days on Market for Listings That Went Under Contract: 143 days
  • Inventory: 240 homes on the market
  • Number of Months Supply of Homes (Based on past 90 day contract rate): 3.0 months
  • Number of Months Supply of Homes (Based on past 30 day contract rate): 3.2 months

Here are last week’s stats for Oakton Real Estate (22124):

  • Number of Contracts: 6
  • Average Days on Market for Active Listings: 115 days
  • Average Days on Market for Listings That Went Under Contract: 50 days
  • Inventory: 82 homes on the market
  • Number of Months Supply of Homes (Based on past 90 day contract rate): 3.6 months
  • Number of Months Supply of Homes (Based on past 30 day contract rate): 3.8 months

Notes:

  • Inventory in both Vienna & Oakton is down slightly this week – with inventory in Vienna at its lowest level since early May.
  • Average days on market remained stable.
  • The contract rate in Oakton remained stable, while Vienna’s contract rate is the lowest we have seen in 2010 (tied with the contract rate of the week ending February 9th)!
  • Last week we wondered whether increased open house attendance meant more “Real Buyers” or whether they were “Lookie-Loos”. Based on the contract rate this week, it seems like they are still “just looking”.

If you’re thinking of buying or selling, contact The Belt Team for a more in-depth discussion & analysis – because it’s only the neighborhood YOU live in (or you WANT to live in) that matters!

Just Listed – Latigo Lane in Oakton, VA!

OPEN HOUSE – SATURDAY & SUNDAY (Aug 28 & 29) 1-4PM 

Lighthearted elegance and the ease of both family living & entertaining are the hallmarks of this lovely colonial sited on a gorgeous 1/2 acre lot. Enjoy an expansive front lawn and a pool & spa in a backyard surrounded by trees for the ultimate in privacy. Plus lots of 2010 updates inside – including fresh paint, a remodeled kitchen & new carpet in the finished walkout lower level. You’ll love the soaring ceiling & skylights in the family room with fireplace, the Eucalpytus hardwood floors throughout most of the main level, the in-law suite in the lower level & more! $749,000

More Info About 11918 Latigo Lane in Oakton

Contact The Belt Team

Just Listed! – Park Garden Lane – Reston, VA

   

    

This gorgeous all brick, end-unit townhome in sought after North Reston is move-in ready! Enjoy a wonderful, open floorplan with hardwood floors throughout the main level, vaulted ceilings in all three bedrooms, a fully finished walkout lower level with rec room & gas fireplace, delightful wrap-around front porch, plus spacious upper & lower level decks! $500,000

More Info About 1388 Park Garden Lane in Reston

Contact The Belt Team

Open Houses – Vienna & Oakton – August 22nd

It’s the weekend! And that means it’s time for our Theme Song of the Week. This week we bring you U2 and “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For“. And if you’re in that same boat, you still haven’t found the home you’re looking for – – – then scroll down, get directions to our open houses this weekend, and stop by to see us. Imagine – maybe you’ll actually find what you’ve been looking for!

Open Houses This Weekend:

~ Sunday, August 22nd from 1PM to 4PM – 10507 Hunting Crest Lane in Vienna – $899,950

~ Sunday, August 22nd from 1PM to 4PM – 11918 Latigo Lane in Oakton – $749,000

~ Sunday, August 22nd from 1PM to 4PM – 10141 Palmer Drive in Oakton- $1,149,900

11918 Latigo Lane in Oakton – $749,000

9604 Thistle Ridge in Vienna For Sale

Lighthearted elegance and the ease of both family living & entertaining are the hallmarks of this lovely colonial sited on a gorgeous 1/2 acre lot. Enjoy an expansive front lawn and a pool & spa in a backyard surrounded by trees for the ultimate in privacy. Plus lots of 2010 updates inside – including fresh paint, a remodeled kitchen & new carpet in the finished walkout lower level. You’ll love the soaring ceiling & skylights in the family room with fireplace, the Eucalpytus hardwood floors throughout most of the main level, the in-law suite in the lower level & more!

Directions to Latigo Lane: Route 66 West to Route 50 West, North on West Ox, Right Waples Mill, Left Vale, Left Cobb Hill Lane, Left Latigo Lane to cul-de-sac.

More about 11918 Latigo Lane in Oakton

10507 Hunting Crest Lane in Vienna – $899,950

9604 Thistle Ridge in Vienna For Sale

This charming home will become your own personal oasis, both inside and out! Enjoy a spectacular “two acre” lot complete with swimming pool, “beach” area and covered patio with tiki bar! The come inside and revel in the spaciousness throughout the home. It’s as perfect for family living as it is for entertaining. You’ll find 2 fireplaces, soaring ceilings in the living room & dining room, a sunny, spacious kitchen, main level library, 5 bedrooms and three full baths upstairs, plus a finished walkout lower level!

Directions to Hunting Crest: Dulles Toll Road West to Hunter Mill exit. Right on Hunter Mill, go past 3 way stop sign, right on Hunting Crest Lane to #10507.

More about 10507 Hunting Crest Lane in Vienna

10141 Palmer Drive in Oakton – $1,149,900

Three charming NEW HOMES from master builder Sekas Homes are under construction now on Palmer Drive. Two are under contract. One opportunity remains! Beautiful lots close to Metro. Elegant homes loaded with quality upgrades! 4 bedrooms, 4.5 baths.

Directions: From I-66 West, Exit Rt 123 North, Right Palmer Street, Left Palmer Drive to #10141. Or from Vienna: Route 123 into Oakton, Left Hibbard, Right Palmer Dr.

More Info About 10141 Palmer Drive in Oakton

Contact The Belt Team

Weekly Real Estate Update – Vienna, VA & Oakton, VA

Here are last week’s stats for Vienna Real Estate (22180,22181, 22182):

  • Number of Contracts: 17
  • Average Days on Market for Active Listings: 112 days
  • Average Days on Market for Listings That Went Under Contract: 54 days
  • Inventory: 242 homes on the market
  • Number of Months Supply of Homes (Based on past 90 day contract rate): 2.9 months
  • Number of Months Supply of Homes (Based on past 30 day contract rate): 2.8 months

Here are last week’s stats for Oakton Real Estate (22124):

  • Number of Contracts: 6
  • Average Days on Market for Active Listings: 113 days
  • Average Days on Market for Listings That Went Under Contract: 64 days
  • Inventory: 84 homes on the market
  • Number of Months Supply of Homes (Based on past 90 day contract rate): 4.1 months
  • Number of Months Supply of Homes (Based on past 30 day contract rate): 4.4 months

Notes:

  • Inventory in both Vienna & Oakton is down slightly this week. Inventory in Vienna is at its lowest level since early May.
  • Only 17% of the homes that went under contract this week in Vienna/Oakton were listed above $800,000.
  • The contract rate in Oakton remains fairly stable. While Vienna’s contract rate (with the exception of the 2 weeks surrounding 4th of July) was at the lowest we have seen since early March.
  • After last week’s report of low open house attendance, this past weekend saw an increased appearance of “buyers” coming through the doors. Are they “Real Buyers” or just “Lookie-Loos”? Only time will tell.

If you’re thinking of buying or selling, contact The Belt Team for a more in-depth discussion & analysis – because it’s only the neighborhood YOU live in (or you WANT to live in) that matters!

Interest Rates At Historical Lows – But Should I Still Wait To Buy?

Interest rates have recently dropped to a HISTORICAL LOW.

Several of us on The Belt Team have recently refinanced our mortgages to take advantage of this! And if this is something you are considering, just contact The Belt Team and we will be happy to pass on the names of our excellent local lenders.

But maybe you are wondering whether the market has really “bottomed out” and whether perhaps you should continue waiting to buy, even if this means watching rates go up a little. If this is something you are thinking about, you might want to watch “This Month in Real Estate” for a good explanation of exactly what this may mean for YOU.

Open Houses – Vienna & Oakton – August 15th

TGIF! That means it’s time for our Friday Theme Song of the Week. This week we bring you Nick Lowe and “Heart of the City“. Listen closely . . . the lyrics change the second time through, but the first time Nick just might be singing what you are thinking . . . “I’m looking for a home in the heart of the city“. And whether you’re looking for a home in the city or the country – we’ve got one for you. So please stop by to visit us at one of our open houses this weekend because you just might find that place to call “home”! Scroll down for details – but first . . . here’s Nick Lowe:

Open Houses This Weekend:

~ Sunday, August 15th from 1PM to 5PM – 10507 Hunting Crest Lane in Vienna –  $899,950 (JUST LISTED!)

~ Sunday, August 15th from 2PM to 5PM – Thistle Ridge in Vienna – $1,499,900 & Up

~ Sunday, August 15th from 1PM to 4PM – 10141 Palmer Drive in Oakton- $1,149,900

10507 Hunting Crest Lane in Vienna – $899,950 – (JUST LISTED!)

9604 Thistle Ridge in Vienna For Sale

This charming home will become your own personal oasis, both inside and out! Enjoy a spectacular “two acre” lot complete with swimming pool, “beach” area and covered patio with tiki bar! The come inside and revel in the spaciousness throughout the home. It’s as perfect for family living as it is for entertaining. You’ll find 2 fireplaces, soaring ceilings in the living room & dining room, a sunny, spacious kitchen, main level library, 5 bedrooms and three full baths upstairs, plus a finished walkout lower level!

Directions to Hunting Crest: Dulles Toll Road West to Hunter Mill exit. Right on Hunter Mill, go past 3 way stop sign, right on Hunting Crest Lane to #10507.

More about 10507 Hunting Crest Lane in Vienna

Read about “Life In Vienna, VA

Thistle Ridge in Vienna – $1,499,900 & Up

9604 Thistle Ridge in Vienna For Sale

Thistle Ridge is a breathtaking new home community from master builder Sekas Homes in Vienna. 9 new homes will be built on beautiful cul-de-sac lots! Four are pre-sold. Five opportunities remain! Prices start at $1,499,900.

Directions to Thistle Ridge: From Rt 123 in Vienna, Proceed North on Beulah Road. Bear left on Clarks Crossing Road. 2nd Right on Brookside Lane. Right on Thistle Ridge to #9604.

Read about “Life In Vienna, VA

10141 Palmer Drive in Oakton – $1,149,900

Three charming NEW HOMES from master builder Sekas Homes are under construction now on Palmer Drive. Two are under contract. One opportunity remains! Beautiful lots close to Metro. Elegant homes loaded with quality upgrades! 4 bedrooms, 4.5 baths.

Directions: From I-66 West, Exit Rt 123 North, Right Palmer Street, Left Palmer Drive to #10141. Or from Vienna: Route 123 into Oakton, Left Hibbard, Right Palmer Dr.

More Info About 10141 Palmer Drive in Oakton

Contact The Belt Team