On a recent listing appointment–canal front property with a dock and pool–the sellers and I held a long conversation on pricing their home. The sellers had recently looked on a popular home valuation Web site,
and were convinced their property was worth $75,000 more than my comparative market analysis showed. While this exchange would never have taken place five years ago, I realized that today’s consumers use
these sites all the time to locate properties and/or price their homes. What did I do?

First, I explained that on occasion, home valuation Web sites can be dead on with their pricing. However, most of these web sites exist as lead capture tools–services which realtors subscribe to in order to generate buyers and sellers as customers–or they are drivers of traffic, used to attract consumers who then can be sold other services, including mortgages or insurance. Then, I explained that while many of these sites use averages based on the sales data available, very often they cannot account for property condition, exposure, renovations, etc. Just as I’ve often written in this column about our area-specific averages, I also go to listing appointments armed with real time comparisons, based on my visiting the comparable properties.

Home valuation Web sites like Zillow.com; Cyberhomes.com; Homegain.com and ValueMyHouse.com keep a good watch on the market and can be an excellent seller tool. However, a realtor whose greatest concern is to keep close watch on her “farm area,” is better equipped to provide observation, in person, on price, trends and VALUE.

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