Selling Your House? Update Your Zillow Zestimate First

By Amy Beardsley

Posted on May 19th, 2022

Header image - Man leaning against house with calculator

What Is a Zestimate? | How to Get the Most Accurate Home Value Estimate | Can You Update Your Zestimate? | 5 Steps to Update Your Zestimate

You’re ready to sell your home, but something isn’t right with your Zillow Zestimate. It’s showing a value that’s $25,000 less than what you think it should be. You start to panic—you’re sure Zillow is wrong, but you’re not sure how to update your Zillow Zestimate.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 97% of home buyers hunt for houses online, so it’s crucial to make sure information about your home is accurate.

Meanwhile, homeowners tend to overestimate the value of their homes by about 5%—a phenomenon called "seller bias." Your expectations could be creating a major discrepancy between your opinion of your home’s value and Zillow’s. But how do you determine if that’s the case?

The good news is that it's relatively easy to update your home's Zillow profile.

However, Zillow home estimates typically aren't the most accurate way to evaluate what your home is worth. Instead, we recommend speaking with an experienced local real estate agent. Most real estate agents offer a free comparative market analysis (CMA) that provides thorough research into comparable homes that have sold recently.

We've partnered with Clever Real Estate, a free service that introduces you to top-rated real estate agents near you. Sellers who list with Clever get full service from trusted brokerages including Keller Williams, RE/MAX, and Coldwell Banker and pre-negotiated listing fees of just 1%. For a $400,000 home, you'd save $8,000!

👋 Connect with Clever's licensed concierge team to meet agents near you today!

What Is a Zestimate Home Value?

Zillow is the nation's leading real estate marketplace, with 36 million monthly visitors in 2021. Its extensive archive of current and past home listings form a powerful hub of real estate data, which Zillow uses to generate reports about local real estate markets, analyze the value of individual homes, and more.

The Zestimate is Zillow’s home valuation tool. To calculate your home's Zestimate, Zillow compares your property to the more than 104 million homes in its database. Zillow also considers a variety of criteria, including public records, market trends, and information from comparable homes on the multiple listing services (MLS).

Keep in mind: The Zestimate is an automated calculation, not an officially-sanctioned evaluation. When you sell your home, the buyer's lender will typically require an appraisal to confirm that the sale price is aligned with your home's market value.

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Zillow Zestimate vs. Competitive Market Analysis (CMA)

The best way to get a clear understanding of your home's value is by getting a competitive market analysis (CMA) from a licensed real estate agent.

A CMA examines:

  • Recent sales of homes in your neighborhood
  • Your home's features and finishes
  • The current local real estate market
  • Less tangible qualities, such as how unique your home is compared to others nearby

The goal is to find specific addresses of comparable homes that recently sold near you, then compare the data to your home to arrive at a sound value estimate. Real estate agents refer to this processing as “pulling the comps.”

💡 Expert Tip: Before creating a Zillow for sale by owner listing, make sure you're armed with accurate comps! This will help ensure you don't lose thousands by under-pricing your home.

In contrast to this in-depth and nuanced research process, Zillow's Zestimate depends on user-submitted data and information from public records. While this can produce a general estimate of your home's value, Zestimates often miss crucial information that can't be reliably automated.

Interested in getting a free CMA of your own? Our friends at Clever can connect you to trusted real estate agents in your local market. We recommend interviewing 2-3 agents to find the best fit for your home sale. There's no obligation, so you can request as many agent matches from Clever as you'd like!

Clever's pre-vetted agents come from major brokerages and provide full service for just 1% in listing fees—helping you save thousands of dollars without sacrificing quality.

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Can You Update Your Zillow Zestimate?

If you're unsatisfied with your Zillow Zestimate, you unfortunately won't be able to directly change it.

But you can influence your Zestimate by updating information about your home, fixing incorrect information, and adding rich details to make sure your home's profile is complete. In fact, Zillow’s Zestimate is the most “fixable” online home value estimator. It allows you to claim your home, then teach Zillow's algorithm more about your property.

Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean your Zestimate will be completely accurate. It just means it will be more accurate than it was before.

5 Steps for Updating Your Home on Zillow

Step 1: Claim Your Home on Zillow

Before you visit Zillow to search for and claim your home, you must create an account. The site will ask for your name and phone number to verify your identity.

If you already have an account, log in and navigate to your home’s property page. Click on the “More” drop-down tab to select “Verify your ownership.”

Step 2: Update Your Home Facts on Zillow

Once Zillow verifies that you’re the owner, you can start to update your home’s facts. Log in and click on your profile icon, then select “Your Home” from the menu.

From there, you can give Zillow the most up-to-date information, including the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, finished square feet, lot size, and HOA dues. You can also enter the year it was built and when you made structural remodels to the home.

Screenshot of Zillow update fields

You'll also be able to enter a free response description of your home to help Zillow recognize any unique features that don't neatly fit into the categories provided.

For example, you can input changes such as:

  • A recent remodel
  • Upgraded finishes such as nicer cabinets, flooring, or appliances
  • New landscaping
  • Added square footage, such as a bedroom addition or garage expansion
  • Added bathrooms
  • Zillow owner details

Once you make these changes on Zillow, continue to monitor Zillow until the next regular update. You may notice an updated Zestimate that reflects the new information.

One important note: You can only update the facts if your home isn’t currently for sale. If you're actively selling, you'll have to contact Zillow customer service.

Step 3: Check Off All Relevant Amenities

Your home’s amenities and features can boost Zillow's Zestimate value. Once you're logged in, check off any special features your home has, such as:

  • Brand name appliances (e.g., dishwasher, dryer, garbage disposal, etc.)
  • Finished, unfinished or partially finished basement
  • Carpet, hardwood floors, tile and other floor coverings
  • Unique rooms (e.g., breakfast nook, family room, laundry room, workshop, etc.)
  • Indoor features like being cable-ready or having ceiling fans, a fireplace or vaulted ceiling
  • Architectural style and exterior features of the home
  • Outdoor features (e.g., balcony, deck, fenced yard, pool, etc.)
  • Options like a carport, garage or street parking

Zillow offers a wide variety of fields that make it easy to check off your home's selling points:

Screenshot of features checklist

You also have the option to upload photos and media, including a 3D home tour, to better showcase your home on Zillow.

Step 4: Review Your Home's Tax History

Zillow uses tax records and recent sales prices to calculate the Zestimate—so if you made recent updates or renovations, your home’s tax assessment might not be accurate.

Contact your local tax assessor to let them know about home updates you’ve done. It could increase your tax assessment amount, which would then increase your Zestimate value.

5. Contact Customer Service

Your changes should be updated quickly and viewable on your home’s Zillow listing. You can typically see the updated Zestimate instantly, but since the process is fully automated it's possible to run into delays or other bugs.

When in doubt, it never hurts to reach out to Zillow's Help Center. Connecting directly with a Zillow rep may speed up any pending updates or help you unblock any glitches that may slow down your Zestimate update.

Don't Accept an Inaccurate Home Estimate

It's possible to update your Zillow Zestimate—but it still won't be as accurate as a qualified real estate agent's estimate.

A faulty home value estimate can cost you thousands, so we recommend contacting our friends at Clever Real Estate. They'll match you with top-rated real estate agents who can provide a free CMA, with no fees or obligation.

If you connect with an agent who's the right fit for your home sale, you can take advantage of Clever's low, pre-negotiated listing fees. You'll pay just 1% in listing fees, rather than the standard 3%, helping you save thousands of dollars without sacrificing great service.

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FAQs

Can you increase your Zillow Zestimate?

If you believe Zillow's Zestimate is undervaluing your home, the best solution is to claim and update your home's profile on Zillow. The platform may not be up to date, and if it's lacking important details such as recent upgrades, remodels, or additions, your Zestimate may be too low. Learn how strategic profile updates can increase your Zillow Zestimate.

How can I update my Zillow Zestimate?

Zillow Zestimates are automated, so you won't be able to directly edit your Zestimate. But you can update detailed information about your home, such as amenities, square footage, or remodeling, which Zillow will take into account. Learn how to claim and update your Zillow profile.

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Posted in Preparing to Sell Your Home, Selling a House