NYT Article on Appraisals for Purchase, Re-Financing and Insurance; and Zillow "Zetimates"
An interesting article on the art, science and often inaccuracy of appraisals and those estimates of value created by websites such as Zillow. Ultimately, the only way to find out a property's fair market value is to put it on the market, showing at its best, comprehensively marketing it to prospective buyers and their agents, and then seeing what a willing, able and reasonably knowledgeable buyer will pay for it. Before that, the best shot is having a complete comparative market analysis performed on the property by a highly competent and experienced agent. That agent is almost always much more familiar with the immediate market, its conditions and trends, and comparable properties -- for sale, pending sale, and sold -- than an appraiser who doesn't concentrate on a specific market. And frankly, no decent agent pays any attention to an online estimate such as Zillow's created by a computer program -- that has never seen the property, seen its condition, views, exact location, neighbors and so on. Zillow says their "zestimates" have an 8.5% margin of error on either side of the number they come up with. But we've often seen 25% and more margins of error between what Zillow says and the subsequent sales price. In any case, here is that article: