Zillow Review: Pros, Cons, and More

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What is Zillow and how does it work?

Zillow is a full-featured real estate app for anyone looking to buy, rent, or sell a home. From the search tab, you can browse millions of homes and apartments for sale or rent, and take advantage of robust search filters to narrow your results. Search and browse from map view to pick your ideal area.

Listings can include everything from 3D walk-throughs to publicly available tax information. If you find a home that catches your eye, you can contact the owner or listing agent from the app. Don’t have an agent? Zillow’s real estate agent directory lets you browse local agents and read real reviews. And the app’s mortgage tools are an easy way to estimate your payments or find a lender.

Homeowners can use the ZIllow app to sell or rent their homes. The My Home tab lets you find and claim your property, see nearby comparables, check your home’s estimated value, and create sale or rental listings. Zillow home listings are free to create, and potential home buyers can contact you through the app.

Don’t want the hassle of listing and selling? In some areas, Zillow may buy your home through its Zillow Offers program (various associated fees may apply to Zillow Offers).

Top perks

Here are some of our favorite features of Zillow.

135 million-plus home listings

The Zillow app provides users more than 135 million listings. Zillow has been around for years, and it’s become a trusted source for buyers, sellers, and real estate professionals. As a result, you’ll see listings from nearly everyone selling or renting a property, from owners wanting to do it themselves to seasoned pros who depend on ZIllow’s huge network to get their clients the best deals possible.

Buy, sell, or rent property

While some real estate apps only let you search property for sale, Zillow users can search sale and rental listings. This includes for-sale-by-owner and agent-created listings, as well as rental listings from owners, apartment complexes, and property management companies. You can filter searches to browse only properties that meet your criteria, and use a helpful map view (more on that below).

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Listing quality varies based on the lister, but at minimum you can expect publicly available property data — size, bedrooms, tax history, and so on — and a Google maps or street view photo. You’ll also see a Zestimate, Zillow’s proprietary home valuation based on things like tax history and recent sales.

If you find a property you like, you can contact the owner or listing agent through the app to get more information or set up an in-person or virtual tour. This can be done through an email contact form or by phone.

As a homeowner, you can claim your property to create a sale or rental listing. There’s no cost to list your home, and you can update listings at any time, right from the app. You can add as many photos as you want, though there is a maximum photo size. You can upload video tours, or add a URL for a virtual tour hosted elsewhere. You can also craft your own description and fill in property details to help shoppers know if your home is the right fit.

Robust search filters

What sets a great real estate app apart from a basic one? The search features. The Zillow app filters by dozens of criteria. This includes basics such as square footage, property type, and number of rooms, as well as filters for specific amenities. Only want to see waterfront property, single-story homes, or properties with a certain number of parking spots? There are filters for all of that and more.

Once you’ve set your filters, you can browse your results via a list or detailed map view. The map view also unlocks extra search features. You can search by moving the map’s view, or draw your own lines on the map to mark out the exact area you want. Save your searches to easily access the latest listings, and sign up for updates to receive alerts for new additions.

Real estate agent directory

The Zillow app includes an extensive directory of real estate agents. You can search hundreds of agents in your area, and see reviews from Zillow users. If you already have an agent or company in mind, use the name search to quickly find your exact match. You can also filter agents by service, specialty, price range, and what languages they speak.

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Once you find an agent or company you like, you can contact them through Zillow’s contact form. Alternatively, the app provides a phone number or website link to contact the agent directly.

Mortgage tools

For many, finding a mortgage is the hardest part of buying a home. The Zillow app offers a range of mortgage tools to make the process less painful. Take advantage of a variety of mortgage calculators to estimate your payments or see how much house you can afford.

The market trends give you a big-picture look at the latest mortgage rates, with options to filter by loan program, location, and timeframe. See customized rates from many partner lenders, or fill out a few questions to get pre-qualified by a local lender.

Tag and share listings

Although some users might be buying solo, home buying is often a team sport. In addition to letting you save searches and favorite homes, the Zillow app lets you tag and share listings.

You can add a shopping partner to your account to easily share listings with a spouse or friend, or use many third-party apps. For example, the share feature lets you send a listing to a nearby device via bluetooth, email your listing, or send a tweet or Twitter DM through a connected account.

Want to remember why you saved a particular listing? Zillow allows you to add popular tags, like “price” or “house size,” and create custom tags to help you browse your favorites or share your thoughts with a shopping partner.

Sell quickly using Zillow Offers

If all you want to do is sell your home now, the Zillow Offers program may be a good solution. Through Zillow Offers, you can get a cash offer on your property from Zillow within minutes. This means no showings, no repairs, no back-and-forth with buyers — just a direct offer. There’s no cost to get an offer from Zillow, and no obligation to accept.

You choose your move-out and closing dates, and get paid as soon as you close. However, if you accept an offer through Zillow Offers, you pay transaction fees. This includes selling costs, closing costs, and a Zillow service charge.

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What could be improved

There’s no such thing as real estate app perfection, and these Zillow characteristics leave some room for improvement.

Property estimates can be inaccurate

Every listing on Zillow comes with a Zestimate, Zillow’s home value estimation. Unfortunately, Zestimates are better used as educational figures than as reliable estimates of property value.

Zestimates are generated using Zillow’s proprietary valuation algorithms, which include factors such as property details and tax history. Because Zillow relies on a lot of publicly available data to generate an estimate, the number can be quite a bit off from a professional home appraisal. Estimates for properties with limited information available or in less-populated areas can be particularly inaccurate.

Listings made by sellers can be out of date

As with any other app, Zillow’s real estate app can be subject to human error. Things like photos, videos, list prices, and home descriptions are provided by whoever lists the property. Zillow also relies on owners and agents to update listings — and to remove them when a property is off the market.

If the listing’s creator doesn’t provide accurate information or doesn’t update the listing, it can quickly become out of date. It’s not uncommon to come across listings for properties that have already sold, or rental units that are no longer available.

Agents can pay for better placement

One of the main ways Zillow makes money is through fees they charge real estate agents. As a result, the featured real estate agent at the top of the directory may not be the best agent, simply the one paying for the privilege. Property listings also usually include a few local agents — frequently those who have paid to be there. This can make it more difficult to find the right agent, rather than the one with the deepest pocketbook.

No way to block specific listings

One big shortcoming of the Zillow app is that you can’t exclude individual properties from your results. For example, if you’ve checked out a property and it doesn’t meet your needs, you still have to deal with it showing up in your search results as long as it meets your search filter criteria. Some apps let you block listings, a helpful way to streamline results.

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View more information: https://www.fool.com/the-ascent/mortgages/zillow-review/

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