Can I Really Trust Zillow & Redfin?

I need to sell my house fast. But I can’t list it with a realtor. I need to know “what is my house worth?

Should I trust zillow and redfin for info on what my house is worth?

Your first instinct is to go to Zillow or Redfin and type in the address. Just like that a value appears like magic on your computer screen. But is it really accurate? You need to ask yourself some questions. Does my house need major repairs? Is my kitchen up to 2023 standards?  Should I sell my house for cash without a realtor? Does Zillow know that I need a new roof? Does Redfin take into consideration that I want to sell a rental property and the tenants have caused damage? There are so many questions that need to be taken into consideration before you can determine the value of your house.

Getting the True Value for Your House is not an Exact Science

Zillow and Redfin both use automated valuation models (AVMs) to estimate the value of homes. AVMs use algorithms to analyze publicly available data, such as recent sales of similar homes in the area, to estimate the value of a property.

Zillow’s Zestimate is based on a proprietary algorithm that considers millions of data points, including public records, user-submitted data, and multiple listing service (MLS) data. The algorithm takes into account factors such as the home’s size, location, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, as well as data on local schools, crime, and amenities. Zillow also uses machine learning to improve the accuracy of its Zestimate over time. However, Zillow has acknowledged that the Zestimate is not always accurate, and that it should be used as a starting point for research rather than a definitive value.

how zillow estimates your home value

Redfin’s home value estimates are also generated using an algorithm that considers publicly available data, including MLS data and public records. The algorithm takes into account factors such as the home’s size, location, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, as well as data on local schools, crime, and amenities. Redfin also uses machine learning to improve the accuracy of its estimates over time. However, like Zillow, Redfin also acknowledges that their estimate may not always be accurate and should be used as a starting point for research rather than a definitive value.

Both Zillow and Redfin also allow users to submit information about a specific property, such as updates or renovations, which can be used to improve the accuracy of the estimate. Additionally, both companies have a disclaimer on their website that the estimates provided might not always be accurate and should be used as a starting point for research rather than a definitive value.

It’s important to keep in mind that AVMs, such as Zillow’s Zestimate and Redfin’s home value estimates, are based on publicly available data and may not take into account certain factors that can affect a home’s value, such as the condition of the property, upgrades, or unique features. For this reason, it’s always recommended to seek out a professional evaluation for a more accurate estimate of a home’s value.

So How Much Is My House Worth?

That’s the easy part. Zillow and Redfin are great for giving you a baseline estimate, but remember since they use computer models that rely on home sales they don’t take into consideration what repairs (if any) need to be done to your home. What you need is a comprehensive breakdown of your home’s value based on all of the factors involved. Without that, you will not know the true value.

Once you understand how an offer is made on your house, you can seek out an experienced homebuyer, book an appointment and be well on your way to getting the best offer for your house.

Advertisement

Who’s Really Behind “We Buy Houses” Signs?

“WE BUY HOUSES!”

“FAST CASH FOR YOUR HOUSE!”

“SELL YOU HOUSE FOR CASH!”

“SELL YOUR HOUSE IN 10 DAYS!”

we buy houses in maryland sign

How many times have you driven past a corner in Baltimore, Glen Burnie, Pikesville or Westminster and seen one of these signs screaming at you? I’ll bet it’s more than twice a day. At every major intersection in the state of Maryland, you see one of those signs. I guarantee it.

Full disclosure: I do buy houses. It’s my business. But I can also assure you that you will NEVER see one of those signs with my phone number on it. It’s not my style.

Does it work for other investors? Absolutely. Is it legitimate? Most of the time.

So if those signs are legitimate, and these folks are investors just like me, then why shouldn’t you call the number?

The answer: CREDIBILITY.

we are BBB accredited home buyers and have a 5 star Google rating

Honestly, would you trust your biggest asset – your home – to someone who just puts a phone number on a sign and attaches it to a pole or light post? Or would you rather trust a local home buyer with a 5-Star Google Rating, a Better Business Bureau A+ Accreditation and a verifiable track record?

A credible, transparent, honest cash home buyer in Maryland does not need to hide behind a nondescript sign and a phone number. It’s that simple.  

Don’t get me wrong. I certainly commend these other Maryland cash home buyers hustling around town, putting up hundreds of signs in the wee hours in the morning. I admire the passion and drive. But again, good luck verifying most of these folks. In fact, many of them are actually out of state investors who pay local folks to put out the signs for them. And when you call the number, you could possibly be talking to someone who’s not even in the country.

If you are like me, you don’t make a commitment to any service professional – doctor, lawyer, mechanic, contractor, etc. without doing an extensive search on the internet. You want to see if they are who they say they are and, most importantly, you want to see what other folks are saying about the quality of their work and their customer service. I do not ever hire a professional or make a consumer purchase without doing my homework.

The best part about dealing with a business like mine is that you can easily find all of the information you need just by typing in a few words on Google.

When you are selling your house, it’s not the same as selling an old sofa on Craigslist or Facebook. You are selling the place where you come home to every night after work, where you raised your children, where you barbequed with your neighbors. And when you are ready to move on, for whatever reason, you want to make sure you are trusting the sale to someone who knows the importance and who knows the neighborhood.

Selling your home should not be taken lightly. And if it’s a situation where you can’t sell it with a realtor, do you really want to entrust the place where you built your life to a phone number you saw on a handwritten road sign?

Here are some situations where you usually can’t sell your home with a realtor for the best result:

Expensive Repairs

Fast Relocation

Tired Landlord

Inherited Property

In any of those situations, you want to deal with a home buyer who has experience in those areas. You won’t find that information on a sign at an intersection. It’s 2022, and having the ability to research businesses is your path to making the right decision when it’s time for you to sell your Maryland house.

Sell Your Home Fast on the Internet!

Real estate in Maryland is HOT!

And selling your house fast is easy to do on the internet. If you are looking for someone to buy your house in Maryland as soon as possible, here are some quick and easy tips for harnessing the power of the internet to get a fair offer on your home. And these tips will work no matter where you are selling your home in the state of Maryland: Baltimore, Glen Burnie, Westminster, Reisterstown, Dundalk, Laurel, Frederick, etc.

Go Where the Buyers Are

Buyers are always scouting the most popular real estate web sites: Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, Realtor.com – all of them. Why? Because these sites show everything listed on the MLS and some For Sale By Owner properties. They do an excellent job at showcasing your Maryland home and they definitely attract the most buyers.

Plus, in many cases, you will only need to use one service for listing your property for sale and that service will make sure it goes to all of the major real estate web sites.

Consider Premium Listings

If you want to really highlight your house in Maryland and set it apart from other listings, many web sites offer the opportunity to keep your property at the top of the page or as a featured listing. You will pay for this service, but your property will be seen by the most buyers in this scenario.

Create a Website for Your House

If you have a little time and some basic web site building knowledge, you can actually create a web site for selling your Maryland house. There are several sites with free web builders that are very easy to use. Add some search engine optimization (SEO), a few quality key words in your content, and enticing imagery and you can quickly build a build a web site that puts your house for sale at the top of the page on Google!

Use Great Photos & Vivid Descriptions

Take some time to de-clutter your home so that you can take amazing pictures. Make sure you show the best attributes of each room, from the kitchen to the dining room to the master bedroom to the garage. Use words like “spacious”, “immaculate” and “modern” as opposed to “small” out of date” or “crowded”. First impressions are paramount on the internet so your pictures and content need to be as memorable as possible when you are competing with other home sellers. If you can, hire a professional photographer and someone to stage your house for the highest quality imagery.

Describe the Property with 100% Accuracy

Accuracy and detail are critical. If you aren’t telling the truth about your property then a potential buyer will know the minute they step inside. Don’t try to hide defects or fail to disclose any major issues. They will all come out in the inspection anyway if you get that far. Honesty is the best policy when you are trying to sell your house quickly for any reason.

Make Good Use of a Thesaurus

House hunters glaze over when they read descriptions of similar houses in the same neighborhoods over and over again. Use your imagination and make your property standout. For example, you don’t just have “a northeast Baltimore row house” for sale, you have a “stunning, updated end unit in Parkville” to sell.

Be a Data Junkie

Understanding the data about your neighborhood will give you an advantage over other sellers in this scalding hot real estate market. Use the real estate sites to find recent comps (preferably similar houses sold in the past 6 months in a half-mile radius). Read reviews of local real estate agents and reach out to some of them for pointers. Learn the trends in the market – best time of year to sell, most popular upgrades, buyer demographics. Arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible.

If you employ all of these strategies and tactics, you are well on your way to selling your house for the best possible offer. It doesn’t matter whether or not you are selling to relocate, deal with an inherited property, don’t want to pay for expensive repairs or want to sell for cash without a realtor. By following these simple tips, you will sell your house quickly.

How to Deal With Non-Paying Tenants

Are you a landlord tired of tenants who are habitually late on their rent or simply not paying at all? Now, I know that COVID-19 has made things tough for people to pay their bills, so I am not talking about renters who are in a jam because of the worldwide pandemic. I am talking about fast talking tenants who never pay their rent, month after month – always giving you a new excuse.

You are facing a dilemma that is all too common for landlords across Maryland. It’s frustrating and unfortunately, your options are limited since Maryland is a very tenant-friendly state.

Don’t give up hope just yet though. I’ve got some tips that will help you if you are struggling with rent issues at your Maryland investment property.

Hopefully, you only accept tenants who pass a strict background check, who give you a deposit equal to at least one month’s rent and you have verified that they have a consistent source of income. After all, it is your rental property and you have the right to choose any tenant you want to live in your investment. Unfortunately, even with a solid lease in place problems sometimes arise when it’s time to collect the rent.

Here are four easy tips for dealing with non-paying tenants:

AVOID THE SITUATION ALTOGETHER

So many landlords use this strategy and it is certainly not recommended. Most of the time the problem is not going to just go away if you ignore it. You need to be proactive with your investments. After all, you spent good money acquiring the property, doing a rehab and soliciting for tenants. Ignoring a non-paying tenant will negate all of your hard work. And guess what? If you do nothing, I guarantee the tenant will do nothing also and just hope you don’t do anything to rectify the situation. DO NOT BE COMPLACENT.

NEGOTIATE A NEW PAYMENT SCHEDULE

At some point a landlord needs to decide on the best way to stay profitable. Especially in the current coronavirus world, it’s a much easier proposition to take some money as opposed to no money at all. Negotiating a payment plan is a good compromise between ignoring and evicting. But proceed with caution because the end game is to make sure that the tenant has the ability to catch up on what is owed in a reasonable time frame. And PLEASE make sure than any payment plan is backed up by a written addendum to the existing lease. 

EVICTION TIME

Sadly, eviction is sometimes the only option remaining. Remember, you are in the business off renting for profit and a delinquent tenant can prevent that from happening, month after month, if you are unable to reach another compromise. Be forewarned though – evictions are often difficult, especially in states like Maryland where the laws most definitely tilt in favor of the tenant. If you go the eviction route, be prepared to weather the storm for a few months and make sure you have plenty of supporting evidence so that the courts have no choice but to rule in your favor. In this situation, the name of the game is closing the gap as quickly as possible between when the tenant is given notice to when they legally have to vacate the premises.  

JUST SELL, BABY!

Sometimes it’s just better to cash out and sell your rental property. If none of the aforementioned solutions are working, it’s often best to determine an acceptable price, take the money and move on to the next project. Problem tenants, excessive repairs, property management company fees and sleepless nights worrying about your property sometimes just aren’t worth the hassle.

Samantha sold her Baltimore house for cash

At Brad Buys Houses / We Buy MD Homes, we buy rental properties from landlords like you all of the time. We buy with cash, we close quickly and we pay all of the costs and fees at settlement. Most importantly, we solve your problem. If you are a tired landlord or just want to cash out of an investment property, please fill out the form at www.webuymdhomes.com or call us at (240) 424-0423

Sell Your House Fast Without a Realtor

Selling your home with a realtor isn’t the only option if you need a fast sale. Not every property requires a realtor and there are numerous benefits to eliminating the middle man.

Obviously, the biggest benefit is saving money. You will save dollars on both agent commissions and out of pocket expenses. And let’s not forget closing costs associated with settlement – sometimes as much as 10%.

Fact: You Will Likely Need to Upgrade Your House to Get More $$$ at Closing
To be able to sell your property fast for top dollar, you will definitely need to make some repairs and upgrades to the home. Translation: you need to spend money on contractors, supplies at Home Depot or Lowe’s, plus let’s not forget the time it will take to complete the renovation. Let’s face it, it your neighbor’s house sold for a nice sum of money because of granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, new hardwood floors and upgrading HVAC then you will need to invest in the same upgrades. No realtors and no contractors in the equation equals instant savings on big home selling expenses.

Fact: A Direct Sale Will Save You Big Time
You can expect to pay in the neighborhood of 6% of your final sale price in real estate agent commissions. Plus you will likely be locked into a legally binding contract with the agent for at least 30 days and likely more. For example, if you sell your house for $200,000, you are looking at paying $12,000 to the agent. Wouldn’t you rather keep that money in your pocket for future use?

So, how do you start the process of selling your house directly to a cash buyer?

step 1

Set your price based on similar SOLD properties in your area

Generally, a comparable property is one that has sold in the past six months to a year, is within a mile and is similar in style, square footage, number of bedrooms and number of bathrooms. Be as accurate as you can when putting a value on your home. As I mentioned in a previous post, you cannot trust Zillow, Trulia, Redfin or realtor.com. Their data isn’t perfect. Knowing the price of a house that actually sold that meets the criterial I mentioned before is your best gauge. Realtors have that information handy and you DO NOT have to sign a listing agreement if you ask a realtor for a few comps in your neighborhood. Try to price the house fairly and adjust as needed. Remember, you aren’t fooling anyone since buyers have access to the same information you are using.

step 2

Be Your Own Marketing Pro

If you want to sell your own house, make sure you take great pictures and get the word out. The internet is a gold mine for motivated sellers right now. Using Craigslist, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and all other social media channels make home selling easier than ever. Present your house as if you were the one looking to purchase it.

step 3

Prepare Your House for Viewing

If there are glaring repairs that need to be made, make them. It is also critical to do a deep cleaning, remove any clutter and stage your house to the best of your ability. Prepare checklists for prospective buyers that highlight the selling points and mention any upgrades. Creating a flyer that can be printed as easily as distributed electronically is important as well. Maps of schools, places of interest, parks, restaurants and other local amenities help as well.

step 4

You Have a Buyer…What’s Next?

If you aren’t using a real estate agent, it is highly recommended to hire an attorney, in your state, who can draw up the necessary sales contract. Only accept WRITTEN offers. And only use a contract fully vetted by a licensed attorney.

It’s not hard to sell your own home without a realtor, but if you want some guidance, don’t want to do it all yourself or just want an evaluation to see what your Maryland house is worth, please visit www.webuymdhomes.com or give us a call at (240) 424-0423.

Zillow Isn’t the Gospel

So…you are ready to sell your home now, huh? If you are like millions of homeowners, you are going to Zillow immediately to see what your house is worth.

Even though Zillow claims its “Zestimate” is usually within 10 percent of the selling price of the home, don’t believe everything you see on the internet.

Don’t get me wrong, Zillow is an excellent resource. I use it all the time. But it isn’t the gospel. Why? Because even though Zillow gets a substantial amount of public data, it also allows for user submitted data. And let’s face it, if you are adding information about your home, you are always looking for the best angle. If a homeowner decides to update or change the square footage, number of bedrooms or features, it will change the value. Likewise, public data isn’t always perfect either.

In short, Zillow gives you a range based on its best data.

What’s the best way to get the most accurate value for your home? Well, that’s easy. Obviously, an appraisal is the best way. But that will cost you money, usually around $500 for a thorough appraisal. The other way is to know the “comps”, or comparable prices, of similar homes sold within a certain time period. I generally look at similar homes sold in the past 6-12 months within a mile of the subject property.

The key word here is “similar”. Not every property in the neighborhood is a good comp. At least not for buyers or real estate agents.

You need to take into consideration several factors to determine if a house is actually comparable to your property, such as:

  • Square footage (actual living space – plus it needs to be within 300-400 square feet)
  • Number of bedrooms
  • Number of bathrooms
  • Year built (a house built in 1910 is not a comp for one built in 2010)
  • Style of house (rancher, colonial, split level, etc.)

PLUS…

You need to know the condition of the property being compared.

  • Is it newly renovated?
  • Does it need major repairs?
  • Is there a lead paint issue?
  • Is the foundation sound?
  • Is there mold or termites?

All comps are not created equal. It’s that simple.

So, what’s the best advice if you are using Zillow to determine what your house in worth? Use Zillow, Trulia, Redfin or Realtor.com as a baseline, but ultimately seek out a professional opinion. If you have a Maryland house to sell for any reason, I have a simple form that you can fill out right HERE to get a no obligation offer. And if you want to see my methodology for how I assess home values and make offer, please click HERE