Is Zillow Accurate for Savannah Georgia?

The Internet has become the first stop for home shoppers. Busy lifestyles and the convenience of being able to browse for homes at any time has made real estate a much different industry. Potential buyers turn to the Internet to gather as much information as possible before they even approach a real estate agent for help.


Zillows Dominance in Search

Zillow has become synonymous with real estate searches online.  Many people searching for homes for sale in Savannah will think that the ONLY way to see ALL of the active real estate listings is to use a 3rd party website such as Zillow.  Truth is, Zillow and its Zestimate generally will NOT have all of the listings and only have limited real estate information available for their property valuations. 


Where Does Zillow’ Get Real Estate Data?

The real estate data that Zillow uses has changed over the years.  In the past, Zillow relied on specific data feeds from large franchises and a few MLS, IDX feeds, coupled with individual real estate agents and homeowners uploading listing information.

Today, Zillow has pushed its way into the local  MLS’s with an option provided to the local real estate brokers to decide if they want THEIR listings syndicated to Zillow.  Needless to say, many choose to have their listings sent to Zillow for display, but some refrain. Many real estate agents and brokers have a fundamental issue with buying leads back from Zillow that was acquired using their listing data.


Sold Real Estate Data

Sold Data is used to see what other, similar homes have been sold and for what price. This information is used for Zillow’s Zestimate.  Sold real estate data is a little more challenging to acquire than Active properties. Zillow not only can get solds from the local MLS but can leverage public data for some baseline sales information such as sales price and loan amount.


Accuracy of Zillow’s Zestimate in Savannah

The Zestimate is very seldom 100% accurate.  Zillow does provide data on how accurate their Zestimate is for particular areas of the country.  The most granular we can get for Savanna is the accuracy for Chatham County GA. Below are Zillow’s statistics for their Zestimates in Chatham GA.

  • The Medium Error of the Zestimate in Chatham County is 8.7%
  • The percentage of time that a Zestimate is within 20% of the actual sales price:  77.8%
  • The percentage of time that a Zestimate is within 10% of the actual sales price:  55.1%
  • The percentage of time that a Zestimate is within 5% of the actual sales price:  31.4%

As you can see by the above statistics, the accuracy of a Zestimate in Savannah is very low.  Only 31% of the time they are within 5%. The Zestimate for Savanna only gets within 10% of the actual sales price 55% of the time.  

Most Realtors could claim superior price predictions than Zillows own claims on accuracy of their Zestimate.

Zillow in Savannah Georgia

Then Why Use Zillow?

Sadly, one of the first places that potential buyers are turning is Zillow. The front page of the Zillow website states that they have more listings than any other site for homes for sale or to rent. The site is set up to encourage you to search the database and discover information about houses that are available and their value.

What Zillow does not disclose openly is that it is not a real estate company. Zillow is a marketing company that generates leads for real estate agents throughout the United States, and soon Canada.

They also do not openly disclose that the information that they provide, called a “Zestimate” is probably closer to a “Guesstimate” since they rely on 3rd party information for everything they post on their website.

By their own admission, Zillow states that at least 50 percent of all of their home values are at least 5 to 10 percent off the actual home value. This small variance can be a deal-breaker on a home.


Is Zillow Accurate for Savannah Georgia Homes?

According to the chart listed on the Zillow site, the average price for a home in Savannah as of January 2020 was $164,000. This does not, of course, count the large mansions in the historic district. However, an actual real estate company for the same time period, and the exact same neighborhoods is $259,900. That is a difference of almost $100,000!


For anyone that wants to purchase a home in Savannah, a difference of $100,000 means the difference between buying the home and moving on to a new home or area.

Zillow relies on the MLS, public records, and homeowner updates to their site to generate average market pricing. They do not calculate home prices like a real estate company, or the overall real estate industry does, so their pricing can be very different than actual home values.

In fact, in an interview with MarketWatch, Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff states that everyone should consult with a Realtor to find out the correct value of their home or the home they are interested in buying. He openly admits that the figures posted on the Zillow site are generated from an algorithm and not from real estate experts.

Zillow is a billion-dollar marketing company that has exceptional web design and content that brings it to the front page of your Google search. It does not, however, have all of the expertise they lead you to believe, and only working with a realtor will you get accurate information about buying or selling a home in Savannah.


When You Want To Buy A Home In Savannah Georgia

When you are ready to purchase a home in Savannah, there are several things that you can do before you speak with a real estate agent to make the buying process run easier.

  • Explore the different neighborhoods and types of homes available in Savannah and surrounding areas through the Internet or by driving around. Get a feel of where you would like to live. This will help narrow your search.
  • Get preapproved for a mortgage. When you have been preapproved for a loan, you have two advantages. First, you know exactly what you can spend on a home, which streamlines which homes you view. Second, potential buyers that have been preapproved for a loan have more leverage with sellers than those who may not be approved after they make a bid on the home.
  • Make a list of amenities that you would like in a home or anything that you would not like in a home. This list can help you, and your real estate agent finds the right homes to view.
  • Talk to friends and family members who live in the area about what they have experienced in the real estate market in the area. This will give you knowledge of what to expect from a more personal source.

Zillow can be a great resource for seeing pictures of homes and neighborhoods, but the information listed on the site can also be very risky. If you have found a home that you are interested in that is listed on Zillow, you will get the best results looking at the bottom of the page to see what agency has it listed and contacting them directly.

If you fill out the “More Information” section on the Zillow site, your personal information is generated as a “lead” to a real estate agent or realtor company that has paid for this service. In most cases, these agents have never even seen the house that you are interested in at that point in time.

By contacting the actual real estate company who listed the house, you will be connected with an agent familiar with the house, pricing in the area, and Savannah.