Real estate agents love to offer people free home valuations. We can’t offer appraisals, because most of us are not licensed appraisers. But we can offer a valuation, or what the REO crowd calls “broker price opinions” or a BPO.

And, why do you need that? I mean, I can just go on Zillow and find out my value there, right? Not exactly…

Zillow has great technology. They have some really smart programmers, and they have put together an awesome system for generating automated valuations. Mostly they are wrong. The majority are kind of close, within 5%-10%, say, but some of them are not slightly wrong, but often grotesquely wrong, way off, not even in the ball park.

Why? Because one of the important things about valuation is condition. Take two identical homes, a block away from each other. One is vacant and beautifully staged. The other one has three families living in it and each family has 2 cars, and they have 6 dogs. Which one do you think will sell first, and for how much more? After 300 days on the market, the occupied home will be getting lots of bottom of the barrel investor offers. The staged, vacant home will have sold in a week. That’s just how this business works.

But suppose the homes are not identical, suppose one has carpet, the other has hardwood floors and custom shutters. It also has top of the line appliances that were purchased in the last year, and all the bathrooms have been remodeled. The other one has not had anything done to it in the last 25 years. But they are the same model, in the same area, with the same square footage. Zillow has no idea of these differences.

If you request a valuation from a competent real estate agent, they should come out and see your home before advising you of the value. Sure, I do off the cuff quick valuations every day. But the number I get is for my reference, and I will adjust it up or down when I see the home. And, there are things you can do on Zillow to adjust the value as well — but who bothers with that?

So if you would like a home valuation, contact me and I would be happy to provide you one.