No, Zillow – My Listing Isn’t For Rent

196 Brookwood Dr, Charlottesville, VA 22902 - Zillow.jpg

Zillow has a “rental estimate” on the page for my listing in Charlottesville that is for sale, and it’s confusing enough that people are inquiring as to whether it’s for rent. Consumers – let this be yet another reminder that if you’re searching for homes for sale in the Charlottesville area, the two best places to search are my site and Nest’s site. If you’re searching for rentals, start here and here. Searching for rentals? Start at Nest and then my site again .

My listing is not for rent.

But thanks, Zillow for making it easier to discredit you to my clients and consumers. One day, you might be right enough; one day.

First, Zillow’s customer service response time via twitter first then email is impressive.

My email:

1) It’s not right to display a rent estimate on a property that’s not for rent 2) Assuming you’re not going to stop displaying the rent estimate it would be honest to state explicitly that the property’s not for rent.

Zillow’s response is particularly unhelpful (bolding mine):

Thanks for contacting us! We include a rent Zestimate on properties, even when they are not active for sale or for rent listings, because we feel this information would be useful to a homeowner if he or she was thinking about renting out his or her home. Just as many homeowners are curious about the Zestimate for their property, the believe the Rent Zestimate would be interesting and useful to them as well. When a home is for rent it has a purple home icon and displays “For Rent.” When a property is not for rent or for sale we display “Not for Sale” with no color in the home icon. Please see attachments. Since displaying “Not for Rent or for Sale” would be redundant on each property, we default to “Not for Sale” for inactive properties on Zillow.

No. It’s not helpful or useful; it’s confusing.

As useful as a zestimate between $386k and $528k?

Or a rental estimate between $1600 and $2500?

No, those aren’t helpful either.

But, thanks for providing interesting “information.”

At least the “not for sale” states that a house is “not for sale.”

For rent.PNG not for sale.PNG

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  1. Glen September 27, 2013 at 07:48

    Hi Jim,
    I understand your frustration, but I actually side with Zillow on this one. I find the rent Zestimate to be useful. When I am looking at investment properties, the rent zestimate provides a quick first guess at the rental value of a property.

    Obviously, just like the classic Zestimate, the value Zillow lists needs to be fact-checked. In the case of my Charlottesville single-family rental property, however, the rent zestimate is actually within $10 of the actual monthly rental price (Zestimate $1369, actual rental $1365).

    Zillow could do a better job of making it clear that your properties are not actually for rent, and they need to continue to work on their data and algorithm in our area to make their zestimates more consistently reliable. However, with some caveats I think Zillow provides more useful information than you give it credit for.

    1. Jim Duncan September 27, 2013 at 07:57

      Thanks, Glen.

      Is a span of $1600 to $2500 really useful?

      I like Zillow – their ancillary information is quite helpful. I wrote in January 2008 how the Zestimate might one day become the equivalent of market value, so I do give them credit – even potential credit.

      My concern is also how they are using the data that they get from Realtors (yes, we freely give them the data, but that’s another conversation …) and use it in ways that are misleading and inaccurate.

      If they were able to provide even a realistic ballpark – or allow us to note that the BS rental estimate is wrong – that would be a different story.

      Or – prominently display the supposed accuracy of the numbers their algorithm is spitting out. Their zestimate accuracy page lists Charlottesville City as 1 out of 4 stars –

      Their rent estimate is 2 out of 4 –

      That accuracy rating should be in bold right next to the PFA estimates (PFA: Pulled From Air)

  2. Simon Campbell September 28, 2013 at 09:29

    I have to agree with your article. If a property is not for rent, they should not post a rental price. If the homeowner wants to know what they could rent their home for, I am sure that there are other ways to determine this information within the Zillow site.

    Having Zillow print their estimate does not create market rates. It is almost impossible to determine which rents are market based (i.e. set by either the agent, property manager or landlord) and those which are “created” by Zillow. Honestly, I would prefer to see only market data and if I want Zillows opinion, I should be able to ask for it.

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