Zillow built an empire on the foundation of a single innovation: the “Zestimate.” In 2006, the company was willing to offer consumers what real estate brokers wouldn’t: immediate, automated home value estimates without having to contact an agent. Now, the 10-year-old real estate portal is offering homeowners — and therefore, potential sellers — a more nuanced option.

  • Zillow's new Price This Home tool allows homeowners to create their own, private home value estimates based in part on their own selection of comparable sales and personal knowledge.
  • The tool offers the option to connect to a Zillow Premier Agent for a professional estimate.
  • Price This Home estimates do not affect a property's Zestimate on Zillow's website.

Zillow built an empire on the foundation of a single innovation: the “Zestimate.” In 2006, the company was willing to offer consumers what real estate brokers wouldn’t: immediate, automated home value estimates without having to contact an agent.

Now, the 10-year-old real estate portal is offering homeowners — and therefore, potential sellers — a more nuanced option: their own private, customized home value estimates with the option of contacting a Zillow Premier Agent in their area for a professional take. Premier Agents are real estate professionals who pay to advertise on Zillow.

Zillow "Price This Home" screen shot

Zillow “Price This Home” screen shot

“Deciding to sell a home can be stressful, and many homeowners spend a lot of time researching home values and market conditions before contacting their agent,” said Jeremy Wacksman, Zillow’s chief marketing officer, in a statement.

“Price This Home is an excellent tool in those early days. It shows sellers how their home stacks up against other homes on the market, and allows them to provide extra information to create a more customized value estimate.”

How it works

The new tool allows homeowners to create estimates based on comparable home sales and listings, personal knowledge of their home and surrounding neighborhoods, and local market conditions, the company said. In this way, the tool is similar to a tool launched last month by brokerage startup Surefield and dubbed a ‘Zestimate killer.’

According to Zillow, Price This Home has been available on the site for several months to a small percentage of users while the feature was being tested.

Zillow "Price This Home" screen shot

Zillow “Price This Home” screen shot

Price This Home uses the Zestimate as a base, but it allows homeowners to claim their home and update home characteristics such as number of bedrooms and square footage, the company said.

Zillow "Price This Home" screen shot

Zillow “Price This Home” screen shot

Homeowners can choose from a list of for-sale and recently sold homes that are similar to their home based on square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, curb appeal, interior condition and location (which includes attributes such as distance to amenities, views and street traffic.)

Zillow "Price This Home" screen shot

Zillow “Price This Home” screen shot

Homeowners do not have to have a Zillow account or enter their contact information in order to use the tool,  according to Zillow. If they do have a Zillow account, the site will save their private estimate for them.

Zestimates

Price This Home estimates do not affect a home’s Zestimate.

“The Zestimate is a great starting point for determining a home’s worth, but we encourage homeowners who are getting ready to sell to use the Price Tool to understand what their home might sell for compared to their competition and given current local market conditions,” Zillow spokeswoman Amanda Woolley told Inman in an email.

Offering customization based on homeowner knowledge may be the company’s way of tackling an oft-cited criticism of Zillow’s Zestimates: that they can be inaccurate, sometimes wildly so.

Tech-focused brokerage Redfin released its own home value estimates earlier this month, claiming to have devised the most accurate automated valuation model (AVM) the industry has ever seen — a claim questioned by Zillow.

Zillow’s automated customization also differentiates Price This Home from other home value estimates offered by countless brokerages nationwide. On brokerage websites, if an estimate exists, homeowners generally are not able to adjust it.

And brokerages often offer estimates put together by an agent, but such estimates — though they may be more accurate — don’t tend to be automatically generated.

When asked how Price This Home is different from Surefield’s tool, Woolley said, “Our tool is focused on making this process as easy for the homeowner as possible. So for example, we provide the square footage of the home a user is trying to price.

“Additionally, we remove homes that are arm-reach transactions (meaning the seller and the buyer have the same last name), we only show the 10 comparable homes and only include homes that have sold, not active listings.

“For homes that may have similar, but not identical features/attributes, the price tool creates an ‘adjusted prices’ that accounts for the differences between the homes, making it easier for the user to compare homes. We also help the seller understand what makes a comparable home.”

Upon further inquiry from Inman, Woolley later clarified that Price This Home does use active as well as sold listings for comparables.

For its part, Surefield said it didn’t exclude square footage from its Pricepoint tool lightly.

“In our research, we found that sometimes county records don’t include additions, finished basements or attic conversions,” Surefield spokeswoman Cynthia Nowak told Inman via email.

“Homes also may be marketed in the MLS with different definitions of total square feet—some include a finished basement, while others include an unfinished basement. While this may require an extra step, it ensures homeowners get the most accurate home value.”

Nowak also noted that Surefield may have an advantage over third-party sites like Zillow because, as a brokerage, it is able to provide photos of all MLS-listed homes for homeowners to review.

“Other tools that rely on broker feeds or manual uploads won’t have 100 percent of the photos. In addition, some MLSs and brokerages have rules preventing sold photos on third-party or non-brokerage sites,” she said.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with comments from Surefield and a clarification from Zillow that Price This Home does use active listings, as well as sold listings, for comparables.

Email Andrea V. Brambila.

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