Placing a value on your time spent on Zillow

Brokers say that Zestimates can be off base, but that doesn’t stop sellers from obsessing over what the website says their home is worth.

By Ronda Kaysen | The New York Times

A couple of times a week, Nick Spencer checks the value of his four-bedroom house in Haddon Heights, N.J., on Zillow. He has no plans to move, describing the town, located about 10 miles from Philadelphia, as “Americana at its best,” and his Cape Cod style home as “a labor of love.”

Yet there he is, clicking on Zillow every few days to see what the house he bought for $399,900 in 2006 is now worth. The last time he looked, the Zestimate — a Zillow algorithm that not only calculates current values for 110 million homes, but also predicts what they’ll be worth in the future — pegged Mr. Spencer’s home at $503,744. A little green arrow showed it up 1.7 percent from a month ago.

Mr. Spencer thinks it’s extremely unlikely that anyone would pay anywhere near that much for his house, charming as it may be. A neighbor down the street just took his house off the market after two years, even after dropping the price by more than $100,000, to $369,000. Zillow has that house pegged at $447,000, and rising.

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