Automated Valuations on Cyberhomes, Zillow, etc.

Wrong Number(s)

Real estate Web sites like Trulia, Zillow, and Cyberhomes now all offer some version of what are called “automated valuations.”

That is, they crunch publicly available records and generate an estimated fair market value for millions of homes nationally.

How accurate are they?

Put it this way: if you can find a Seller who’ll actually accept what Cyberhomes — to pick just one example — says their home is worth . . . pay it!

Case Study

At least, that’s my take after checking out 2818 Sunset Boulevard just southwest of Cedar Lake in Minneapolis (pictured above, in its “before” condition).

An extreme fixer-upper when I sold it last Fall for $405k, the new owners have spent the better part of the last year painstakingly restoring and expanding it.

You name it, they did it:

Deluxe, new Kitchen? Check.

Brand new sunken Living Room where the attached garage had been? Check.

All-new windows, mechanical’s, updated baths — not to mention a new, 600 square foot detached garage?

Check, check, check.

So, what does Cyberhomes say the home is worth?


What is the home actually worth?

I’d put it at $900k, give or take 5%.

How should I know?

Besides being a professional Realtor who’s sold more than a dozen, nearby homes . . . I live two doors away.

P.S.: Cyberhomes’ aerial shot of my home still shows the backyard tree we cut down when we moved in . . . 3 1/2 years ago!

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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