Using Zillow for All Your Real Estate Needs

One of the best platforms for property buying, selling, renting and more

An image of a woman looking at a real estate listing on a tablet.

 

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Zillow is a comprehensive real estate platform that helps people buy, sell, rent, finance and even remodel properties. It features over 110 million properties in the United States and Canada, including ones that have been sold or aren't currently on the market.

According to the platform itself, the name "Zillow" is a combination of the "zillions" of data factors involved in making complex real estate decisions and the idea of a house being a place to lay your head, aka a "pillow." "Zillions" plus "pillow" equals "Zillow."

How Zillow Works

Zillow obtains its data from public sources that are freely accessible on the web, including information provided by county, city, or public records. It then uses this data (in addition to many, many other resource factors) to compile detailed listings that create as accurate a profile of a home as possible. This makes the property values reliable; however, these estimates should not be substituted for an official real estate appraisal.

You can also connect with real, qualified real estate professionals through Zillow including real estate agents, property managers, home inspectors, home builders and more. These Premier Agents are prescreened to ensure they meet Zillow's bar for the best quality customer service.

Using Zillow to Determine Home Values

Searchers can use Zillow to get an estimate of what their home is worth — called a "Zestimate," which is based on a system of proprietary factors. You can find the Zestimate for your property by entering your home address here.

A Zestimate is not meant to substitute for a formal home appraisal; rather, it's an informal way to get a head start on understanding what your home (or a home you might be looking at) might be worth in today's market.

A typical Zestimate shows the Value Range (the historically high and low value of what the home has shown itself to be worth), a rent Zestimate (how much the home might go for in the rental market), price history (represented in both graph and linear format), property tax history, and estimated monthly payments. The information used to present this data is based on a wide range of public information that is compiled into one cohesive, useful presentation.

All the Zestimates for the hundreds of millions of homes that Zillow currently covers are part of the Zillow Home Value Index. The Zillow Home Value Index is a geographical, chronological snapshot of home values, based on median value. In other words, it's a simple way to get a quick grasp of how a specific area is doing in the real estate market.

Using Zillow to Find Information About Mortgages and Loans

Another very popular feature at Zillow is the Mortgage Marketplace. Searchers can request loan information from several different lenders at the same time without supplying any personal identification information whatsoever (which makes it a very attractive option indeed).

Users are completely anonymous until they decide to contact a lender that presents a favorable quote. At that point, financial and personal information is expected as part of the exchange. 

Searchers can also easily compare rates and lenders side-by-side, assessing loan types, rates, percentages, fees, monthly payments, even how far geographically the lender is in relation to the buyer.

Be sure to take advantage of the variety of calculators Zillow offers for mortgages, refinancing, affordability, amortization and debt-to-income. On Zillow.com, hover your cursor over Home Loans and look under the Calculators section in the submenu.

Using Zillow to Find Properties to Buy or Rent

Searching for information on home values can be done by entering a complete address into the search function bar on Zillow's home page.

A screenshot of Zillow.com.

If you're looking for localized information about a particular neighborhood or state/province, go ahead and enter that in to get the Zillow Home Value Index, as already discussed above. This works for rentals, homes for sale, even homes that people are just thinking about selling and want to test the waters, so to speak.

Search results come with many different filters, such as For Sale, For Rent, Make Me Move, and Recently Sold. There's also a price slider, bed and bath preference, square footage, and literally dozens more tweaks that Zillow users can attach to their real estate searches to find exactly what they are looking for.

Using Zillow to Sell Properties

Zillow makes it easy to list your property no matter what type of approach you're taking for selling (or renting). Zillow Offers is just one way users can list their properties, which aims to take the stress out of the selling process by helping them skip the home preparation routine, save time, get more flexibility with moving dates and receive customer support.

If you're looking to rent a property, you can manage all your applications and screen potential tenants directly from Zillow. You can also accept and keep track of rental payments, which go directly to your bank account.

Not all properties are eligible since Zillow has real estate brokerage licenses in only select states.

Using Zillow On the Go

Zillow can be accessed via the web, but it's even more convenient to use it via the mobile apps for iOS and Android. In addition to all of the above, you can use the app to receive push notifications whenever new listings hit the market, switch to a pending status or drop in price.