Between January 16, 2019, and June 14, 2019, we recorded 532 home sales in the Tri-Cities. The data below reflect all Tri-Cities home sales that we tracked.
Median Error Rate
Median error rate is the primary metric that Zillow uses to gauge the accuracy of Zestimates. In late January 2019, Zillow said its median error rate nationwide is 4.5 percent. That means half of all Zestimates are within 4.5 percent of the actual sales price.
Zestimates in our area are more inaccurate than they are across the country as a whole. Based on our research, the median error rate of Zestimates in the Tri-Cities is 5.6 percent. In other words, half of the Zestimates here are wrong by more than 5.6 percent of the actual selling price and half are wrong by less than 5.6 percent.
Zestimates for Tri-Cities homes are also worse than in our neighboring big cities: Seattle’s median error rate is 2.2 percent and Portland’s is 1.5 percent, according to Zillow’s own tracking.
Among the four cities we studied, Pasco had the most accurate Zestimates with a median error rate of just 2 percent.
Are Zestimates Too High or Too Low?
In the Tri-Cities, Zestimates are usually higher than the actual sales price. Of our 532 homes tracked, the Zestimates of 420 homes (79%) were higher than the sales price. The Zestimates of 112 homes (21%) were lower than the actual sales price.
Range of Zestimate Inaccuracies
On its website, Zillow measures how many Zestimates are more than 5, 10 and 20 percent wrong. We’ve done the same thing with our Tri-Cities data.
5 Percent Wrong
52 percent of all Tri-Cities Zestimates were off by 5 percent or more.
10 Percent Wrong
30 percent of all Tri-Cities Zestimates were at least 10 percent off.
20 Percent Wrong
9 percent of all Tri-Cities Zestimates were at least 20 percent off.
Zestimate Accuracy & Inaccuracy in Dollars
We can also look at the accuracy/inaccuracy of Zestimates in terms of how many dollars they were off when compared to the actual sales price.
- 85 homes (16 percent) had a Zestimate that was at least $50,000 off. That’s about one of every six homes sold.
- 35 homes (7 percent) had a Zestimate that was at least $75,000 off.
- 10 homes (2 percent) had a Zestimate that was wrong by $100,000 or more.
On the flip side:
- 131 homes (25 percent) sold with a Zestimate that was within $5,000 of the sales price. That’s about one of every four homes sold.
- 60 homes (11 percent) had a Zestimate that was within $2,500 of the sales price.
- 25 Tri-Cities homes (5 percent) sold with a Zestimate that was within $1,000 of the sales price.
Most & Least Inaccurate Zestimates
Among all 532 home sales/Zestimates we recorded, the most egregiously wrong Zestimates were:
- A Kennewick home sold in May with a Zestimate that was $208,335 more than the actual sales price — the most inaccurate Zestimate by dollar amount.
- A West Richland home sold in February with a Zestimate that was 392 percent higher than the actual sales price — the most inaccurate Zestimate by percent.
The least inaccurate (or most accurate) Zestimate was a Richland home that sold in May for just $13 more than the Zestimate.
Over the course of our study, Zestimates improved at each level of inaccuracy. The percentage of Zestimates that were wrong by at least 5 percent dropped from 53 percent in February to 50 percent in May. The greatest improvement was seen in Zestimates that were wrong by at least 10 percent, which dropped from 32 percent to 24 percent.
(Note: For monthly trends, we’re not including January and June because we don’t have a full month of data for either.)
- Zillow vs Reality: Introduction
- Zillow vs. Reality: Key Takeaways
- Zillow vs. Reality: All Tri-Cities Home Sales (this page)
- Zillow vs. Reality: Kennewick
- Zillow vs. Reality: Pasco
- Zillow vs. Reality: Richland
- Zillow vs. Reality: West Richland
- Zillow vs. Reality: Home Value Comparisons
- Our Methodology