Cleaning House Online Gives Your Home The Right Image

BY MARILYN KENNEDY MELIA ON AUGUST 24TH, 2017

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Just as jobseekers should cleanse their Facebook page of any material that would dissuade employers from hiring them, homeowners benefit by checking their home’s online profile, particularly if they’re planning to sell.

Simply by inputting an address, many websites will offer a price estimate on that property.

Like Facebook, however, the dominant site, Zillow.com, is an early pioneer, providing a “Zestimate” of value on some 110 million homes.

“Other sites offer estimates, but nobody seems to use that feature on other websites,” says Rochelle LeCavalier, managing broker, Pink Palm Properties.

Before listing a home, LeCavalier says, “We login [to Zillow.com]. There are often old photos from when it was previously sold and inaccurate descriptions,” she says.

Drawing heavily from public records, Zillow is “constantly doing data cleaning,” says Emily Heffter, Zillow spokesperson. One key way the site updates estimates is when owners supply new information, she says.

“You might have a home with six bedrooms, with a couple added during a renovation, and the extra room was never entered in the public record,” she says.

Owners should click the “claim your home” button on the site, Heffter says. “You’ll be asked questions to make sure you are the actual owner,” she adds. “You can then update your data or write a description of your home, and add photos.”

Additionally, claiming your home provides owners “with a pricing tool that allows you to explore comparable sales in your neighborhood,” Heffter says.

This spring, a “Owner Dashboard” feature was added so that home sellers could monitor how often their listing is viewed, as well as receive suggestions on improving listing content.

Since early 2015, Zillow has been immediately changing the “Zestimate” when data corrections are entered – previously value changes could take weeks.

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