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What's your house worth? Zillow can tell you
There's something voyeuristic about Zillow.com that draws you in. The Internet real estate tool gives the value of your home, your boss's, your high-school sweetheart's. You can even see it on a satellite map.

Zillow.com will tell you how much homes in your neighborhood have sold for and what the property tax is. It has gathered data from county property records for 62 million homes across the country, and adds more daily.

There's only one problem: You can't believe everything you see..

There is no data available for Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire, North Dakota and South Dakota because of state disclosure laws..

Zillow.com's debut this month has drawn mixed reviews. "My home was Zillow-priced at $429,000, and I just had it appraised two weeks ago for $510,000. Big difference," says Guy Sutherland, an agent at Windermere Real Estate in Seattle. "It's not reliable, and it's misleading to consumers."

Zillow.com also has received feedback from consumers who complain that the site has the wrong number of bedrooms or bathrooms, or doesn't reflect the value of a recent remodeling. Zillow.com allows users to modify a property description to get a better value, and Barton says the company is working to clean up the data.

Zillow.com also can be surprisingly accurate. Its Zestimate was just $5,000 higher than a home currently listed for sale at $489,000 in Orange County, Calif., says Dennis Mihelic, marketing director of Realty Executives/OC Dream Homes in Orange County.

Many real estate websites help buyers and sellers, including homevalue.com and realestateinfo4free.com, as well as regional sites. But these sites usually require customers to give an e-mail address or telephone number, which is passed to real estate agents who pay for leads on potential clients.

Zillow.com doesn't do that. It plans to make money selling ads on the site.

Last year, 77% of home buyers used the Internet for research, the National Association of Realtors says; 24% said they found their home on the Internet.

 

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