3 REASONS ZILLOW IS LIKE KLEENEX - Coastal Florida Real Estate


“Zillow” is often tossed around in real estate conversations as THE AUTHORITY on listings, sales and home values.  I think the truth is that Zillow, like Kleenex, has found a niche and as such is given maybe more credit than is deserved.

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Facial tissue, of any brand, is called Kleenex, so people use the word to describe any of these products.  The same is true with “Saran Wrap”,  which includes all plastic wrap and Sanka, which at one time designated all decaf coffee, although it is now just called decaf.  The leftover from Sanka is all decaf coffee containers are designated by some orange spot on the lid, or cover.

I’m sure marketing types could tell me what this called when the brand name replaces the product name, but for now let’s take a look at Zillow.

A Catchy Name

I don’t know where the name Zillow came from but it is very catchy.  Just like Kleenex and Sanka.  It is more catchy than Realtor.com, so I looked it up.  Here’s what the Name Inspector has to say:

Zillow is a blend (or, to be old-fashioned and French about it, a portmanteau) of zillions (as in “zillions of data points”) and pillow (a metonymic reference to home–where you rest your head).

Because blend names are based on real words, they often have a familiar ring to them. They can be especially seamless and elegant when, as in this name, they overlap through rhyming syllables.

Zillow adds an unusual first letter and sound z to an unusual and especially mellow-sounding word ending –illow. The only common two-syllable words that the Name Inspector can think of right now that share that ending are pillow, willow, and billow. Willow regularly shows up on lists of the most beautiful-sounding English words. Two qualities that make it beautiful are its symmetry (beginning and ending with w) and its high sonority (that is, its lack of sounds that obstruct the flow of air through the vocal tract). Both qualities are diminished when the z replaces the w, but the name still sounds pretty good.”

Great Graphical User Interface

The Zillow GUI is great, just like Kleenex, and is both big and easy to read.  Not overloaded with data, it gives the user a fun and colorful experience.  And these features make it especially well suited to today’s mobile devices where pictures and icons replace the written word.  Google calls this being “mobile friendly” and give a higher ranking on search results to web pages set up this way.

Easy to Use

Navigating around on Zillow is easy and seems to work very well, like Kleenex. One feature that is lacking is what Realtor.com used to call “Scout” which means show me the list of homes for sale near my current location. In fact, on Realtor.com you can simply tap this when inside a listing and that particular house listing will come up.

The Problem

While using Zillow is fun, the problem comes because people rely on the data which is seriously flawed.  I have called on listings posted on Zillow that sold years ago.  But the worst trap you can fall into is using their “Zestimates” to determine your home’s value.

Zillow, like any automated system, uses algorithms to determine what your home is worth.  This is the same as web sites offering a “What’s My Home Worth” button.  These buttons are designed to ferret out people thinking of selling not to give a true picture of a home’s value.

If these automated systems were accurate, lenders would use them instead of appraisers.  They don’t use them because they are not accurate.  They are no more accurate than neighborhood chatter about home prices.

The “Zestimate” may cause a seller to think their house is worth more than it is and result in more, and costly, time on the market which erodes potential profit.

The Takeaway

Use Zillow to look around for a house because it gives a good customer experience.  Personally, I prefer Realtor.com and the Search Near My Location is part of the reason.

But, do not use the Zestimate when selling. Instead, use the right, professional real estate sales person who deals in the local real estate market daily.  I have seen Zestimates swing wildly from day to day and this is not a true representation of the market.

Question: What are your thoughts on Zillow?

If you would like to have a conversation about getting your house sold quickly and smoothly, contact me directly at 561-762-4073 or use the form below.

Richard Sites, Realtor