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Avoiding the “Zillow” Home Buying & Selling Trap! (St. George Real Estate Morning Drive Radio Show)

Below is the actual St. George Real Estate Morning Drive show, hosted by St. George Real Estate Agent Jeremy Larkin, word for word! Enjoy and please share if you find it valuable! 

Jeremy Larkin and The Larkin Group @ Keller Williams Realty can be reached by calling 435-767-9821, or emailing sales@gostgeorge.com.

Andy: Good morning. It is 8:36 on News Radio 94.9/890 KDXU. Here is your St. George Real Estate guru. It is Jeremy Larkin.
Jeremy: Good morning. Hey, I was hoping you were actually going to run with the hey, it is Southern Utah’s most accurate real estate forecast. That is what you said about Craig. Right?
Andy: That is right.
Jeremy: I do not know about that. That is what we want. We want that same kind of credibility. Good morning, everybody. Host of the St. George Real Estate Morning Drive. Happy to be here. Happy to be in studio and share with you honestly the good news of real estate. And today, we are going to help you really stay out of trouble online. On the old internet. Right. We are going to help you stay out of trouble with the information. There is so much information. There is so much information. You realize that Google is a verb now. Right? It is just a verb and it is just google it. Just google it.
Jesse: That is true.
Jeremy: I have got Jesse Poll here.
Jesse: Good morning, everybody.
Jeremy: Hey. My cohost, business partner, friend, brother. Gosh. Super funny guy. There you go. Jesse, listen. He says he is without his coffee. What is he going to do without his coffee this morning?
Jesse: I either have a water bottle or a coffee cup in my hand all the time.
Jeremy: Yeah, non-stop. Yeah. It is your stage presence. You need to have something. And you really do.
Jesse: It is my whoopie.
Jeremy: And the funny thing is it is, and you leave the water bottle and coffee mug all over the office, too. It is funny. And then he comes traipsing back in. Hey, happy that you are with us this morning. It is the 25th of April 2019. And part of the reason we time-stamped that is we are broadcasting the show right now on Facebook Live, which is easy enough, but we are also broadcasting on YouTube Live, and then we will upload this to our podcast. So we want to make sure that people know what we are talking about and when we are talking about it because the real estate market is like constantly in flux. Jesse, do you think there is another business that, in which the whole entire business environment is being reinvented as often as real estate? Do you know what I mean? Do dentists —
Jesse: I am sure there is, but it is not as public as real estate.
Jeremy: Yeah, would dentists go, oh man, the dental market is down. With everything that is going on in Washington, DC with the new presidential thing, people stop getting their teeth cleaned. Right?
Jesse: That is a good point.
Jeremy: That does not happen.
Jesse: And that is interesting, too, because your teeth are just as personal as your home.
Jeremy: Thank you. Oh, I thought you were complimenting my teeth.
Jesse: You do have pretty teeth, man.
Jeremy: Thank you, man. Top of the morning, Jessica. Good morning. Andy, is that a fair point? As a guy who, I am going to call you a lay person. You are not in the real estate business with us.
Andy: Right. I think that is a fantastic illustration of what it is like —
Jesse: It really is.
Andy: — because it does not affect everyday life for most people like it does the real estate market.
Jeremy: Yeah, correct. It is wild because the, same with radio. Here is maybe a valid point. I understand that people might increase or decrease their radio spend, like advertisers who are spending money on the radio –
Andy: That is true.
Jeremy: — based on economic conditions. But people do not go yeah, man, with everything that is going on in Congress, I decided I will not listen to the radio anymore. Or man, the stock market is up. I just do not think I am going to listen to the radio anymore. Stock market. That is just static. Most of our habits, but real estate, it is crazy. It is completely, every six months we have to reinvent.
Jesse: Actually, there is one other market that probably going through the same thing and that is the stock market.
Jeremy: Correct.
Jesse: But if you back up and look at that from a macro point of view, it is because that affects the whole world.
Jeremy: Yeah, it sure does.
Jesse: A mortgage in St. George, Utah could affect a bond sold in Germany.
Jeremy: Yeah, it actually could.
Jesse: So that, I think –
Jeremy: You are stretching it, but I will give it to you.
Jesse: Well, kind of because they are sold, I am going deep there.
Jeremy: Yeah, you got real deep.
Jesse: But you can see why –
Jeremy: I can tease this guy.
Jesse: But you can see why it is that way because getting my teeth cleaned does not affect somebody across the world.
Jeremy: It does not.
Jesse: And it never will
Jeremy: And the real estate market, it is front and center. People are thinking about it all the time.
Jesse: Right.
Jeremy: People have to live in a home. They have got to buy one. They have got to own one, sell one, rent one. They have to do something. Everybody needs a place to live, and that is just the way it is. As we move in, this has been a really interesting time. I got a text message on my way in here from a fellow, who is actually a real estate broker out of California. He said, hey do you think anybody is interested in my crazy home in Bloomington? Well, his crazy home in Bloomington is a vacation rental that is completely illegal.
Jesse: The 10,000-square-foot one?
Jeremy: Yeah. Let’s not give too much information out now. No, there are lots of 10,000-square-foot homes.
Jesse: There is.
Jeremy: Anyway, and I have not spoken with him because I went on the air. But this is the kind of text we get. Do you think anyone in your buyer pool is interested in my crazy home in Bloomington? Well, here is why he would be interested in selling it. Because the city is most likely barking at his door.
Jesse: Right.
Jeremy: Knocking at his door. So when the city forgets about it, and they do not talk about it, then he puts tenants in his home. It is a vacation rental, and it works really great. But these are the strange issues. So the City of St. George right now, Washington County, there is this big push for regulating vacation rentals. Two things we have talked about on the program. There is a big push to build vacation rentals in the county, but there is also a big push from I guess we would call it local government to make sure that we are restricting, we are controlling, or maybe even regulating. Right? We talk about a pressure reducer, a pressure regulator valve in plumbing.
Jesse: I think that is pretty accurate.
Jeremy: Yeah, they are trying to regulate it so we do not end up with what is happening, which is way too many vacation rentals in Washington County. Way too many. I just sold the Hammond’s place. Coral Springs. I want to tell you guys a quick story. We sold a vacation rental over in the Coral, I want to say Coral Ridge, but it is Coral Springs. It is over there next to the liquor store in Hurricane. I know it is Hurricane. It is a funny place to thing that that is Hurricane because, to me, that just does not seem, it seems like no man’s land where that liquor store is at Exit 16. It does not even feel like any city at all.
Jesse: I always get a kick out of wherever Utah puts their liquor stores. Because if you go in any other state, they are right downtown where everybody can get to them.
Jeremy: Yeah, they hide them.
Jesse: In Utah, we hide them.
Jeremy: They hid that thing. They put that thing out there like they are going to have to drive. So, we sold their vacation rental, and these are local folks, and a lot of our listeners will say hey, do you think we should invest in a vacation rental. This is a question we get all the time. Well, they just sold it and it was amazing because they are super happy, and we sent them out of there quick.
Jesse: I bet they were happy. They were talking about selling that a couple of years ago, and thankfully, they did not at that time.
Jeremy: Yeah, it would have sold for $240,000.
Jesse: Right.
Jeremy: We sold it for almost $300,000 and sold it in a couple of weeks. Now, the issue is for them, they were competing with, so this is where we talk about these local trends, and we are going to talk about avoiding the Zillow trap momentarily. They found that they were now competing, that Cole West, which is a big developer here in town. Well, statewide probably. I do not know how big they are. But Cole West was developing their own brand new vacation rentals on the other side of the highway there in Coral Canyon, and then they could not get their place rented out because Cole West, everybody would go to the Cole West units, and then they would go to the Cole West managed units next, and then lastly, they would go to their unit. These people said this just does not even make sense. Now, it made sense five years ago, and it might have made sense 12 months ago. And the crazy thing about real estate is it might make sense, it changes, but just understand that we are in a market that is constantly changing and here is the big change. The big change that has been happening, but it seems acute right now, is the information online. How much information, Jesse?
Jesse: Anything you want to know. If you know how to find it, you can find out. Almost anything.
Jeremy: Let’s talk about real estate. What is the challenge for the listeners?
Jesse: Well, the challenge with the listeners is there, well there is too much information. And I will give you a good point of that. If somebody does not really know how real estate works or how evaluation works, they could go on Zillow, for instance, and look at the Zestimate and, especially in the state of Utah, that may or may not be accurate by quite a bit. Now, I cannot find the data on that, but Utah is a non-disclosure state.
Jeremy: I can tell you, well, guess what I can find for you. I can give you Zillow’s data. I can get on Zillow’s data this morning.
Jesse: On Utah?
Jeremy: I can tell you exactly what. Do you think listeners would want to know?
Jesse: I want to know. I want to know.
Jeremy: Do you think that our listeners would want to know, by the way, do you know what a Zestimate is? I am sure you do. Andy?
Andy: I do.
Jeremy: How would you describe a Zestimate in English layman’s term?
Andy: Well, Zillow’s estimate of what your house is worth.
Jeremy: Okay. Perfect, man. That is brilliant. And it is fun to have you in studio because you are consumer and you are a homeowner.
Andy: Yes, yes.
Jeremy: So this is really interesting. If you head on over to Zillow dot com and plug in your address –
Jesse: There it is.
Jeremy: — they are going to estimate a value for you. If you visit Zillow dot com slash Zestimate, they will, it is interesting because Zillow has so much information that it is almost impossible to plow through the website in a logical format.
Andy: That is true.
Jeremy: It is like going to a car lot that is all of the car lots in St. George on one lot. This is wild. Well, here is the issue, and we want to help people avoid the Zillow trap. And the Zillow trap is that you go to any online, we are just going to beat up on Zillow because they are easy to beat up on. But you go to any online resource thinking that the resource is the solution because it was online. Kind of like trying to solve all of our relational problems by reading blog posts on the internet. I have definitely read some. Right? Zillow dot com slash Zestimate, they estimate in every state and every city and for every address in the United States, the value of your home.
Andy: Wow.
Jeremy: So what happens is people go in there and they obtain that information, and using that information, they make buying and selling decisions. Okay. They might make the decision to sell a home or to not sell a home.
Jesse: Yep.
Jeremy: Or to buy a home or not buy a home. Or maybe they use the information to decide that they think their realtor sucks. And this is real right? Well, Zillow said it was 440, Jesse.
Jesse: It happens every day.
Jeremy: Zillow said it was 440. Why did you say it is only 420? Which we are not going to answer that question because that is a whole separate. But does that happen to you?
Jesse: Yeah.
Jeremy: Yeah. I looked at Zillow or I spoke to seven other agents. Zillow has something called, and this is so fun, Zestimate Accuracy Table. I am going to read to you. The Zestimate accuracy depends on the location availability of data in an area. Some counties have deeply detailed information on homes such as number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and square footage and others do not. The more data available, the more accurate the Zestimate value. Let me ask you a question. Do you guys think that the Zestimate information would be more accurate based on Washington County being a rural, 160,000-person county, do you think it would be more or less accurate than say Los Angeles, California?
Jesse: Less.
Jeremy: Right.
Andy: I cannot even imagine it being accurate.
Jeremy: Right.
Andy: When you said they Zestimate every house in America, how could they possibly be accurate?
Jeremy: Yeah. So here is what it literally does. It cannot be. So what happens is they take all this information from tax records and then whatever real estate agents supply to them, and it essentially, it averages it out. This is a funny analogy, but it is like saying well, Andy is 6 foot three or four. You are pretty tall, man.
Andy: Five.
Jeremy: Six foot five. Geeze, man. And Jesse is five foot what?
Jesse: Ten. I do not know.
Jeremy: Well, if you divide those two, you will come up with an average and that is the average height in St. George.
Andy: Six one and a half. That is the average.
Jeremy: So that would be a pretty silly indicator of the average height. Right?
Andy: Right.
Jeremy: That we took two people and we said that this is now the average height of everyone in Washington County. We would want a better data gathering. So here is what happens. I am going to read the rest. Zillow’s accuracy has a median error or 5%. Okay. Meaning, hey, it is plus or minus 5%. Okay, that means half of the home values in the area are closer, let me move on here. It gets confusing for people only because if you are not reading it. But they are plus or minus 5% accurate is what they say. Here is what they did. They produced their accuracy table and they said this is how accurate on a scale of 1 to 5 we are in every state in the United States. Okay? Zillow Zestimate Accuracy Table. One star means we were not very accurate at all. Five stars means we were crushing it.
Jesse: So I am going to go ahead and put that in the comments on Facebook Live. The link.
Jeremy: I even have an image. You can put it in there.
Jesse: Some people can –
Jeremy: Check this out. Here we go. Let me tell you where they are doing a nice job. In Maryland, they are at 4 stars. This is their self-rating. They are at 4 stars. In Arizona, they are 4 stars. Doing pretty well down there. They are running 4 stars in Nevada. Not surprising. And in Virginia. Well, this is interesting. Zillow’s self-accuracy rating for the state of Utah was 1 of 5 stars.
Andy: Ouch. That is not good. Would you watch a movie if it was rated 1 out of 5?
Jeremy: No.
Andy: I would not either.
Jeremy: Come on. Would you buy something on Amazon? Geez, if it is not 4.5, you do not buy it.
Andy: Right.
Jeremy: By the way, you should look at our reviews on Zillow. Speaking of Zillow. It is so funny, so it says this rating is tied to the median error and here is the rating as follows. Excuse me, not five stars. I misspoke. It is four stars. I do not know why I thought it was five.
Jesse: You said four.
Jeremy: Okay. Four stars. Best Zestimate. Three stars, a good Zestimate. Two stars, a fair Zestimate. One star, tax assessor’s value or unable to compute Zestimate accuracy. Come on.
Jesse: That does make sense though because they cannot, they do not get the data for Utah unless somebody gives it to them.
Jeremy: And I think the cool thing is it is an accurate, at least they are sharing it. People would not even know how to find that. By the way, 99% of the agents in the county have never seen it. We have never seen it until recently. That accuracy table, that is new to me. Right? Dave, I will take Jeremy’s estimate a million times over. You are awesome. Value from an actual local realtor. They know this town. Thank you, sir. And Peyton, good morning. Peyton is one of our friends and competitors. That is what I like about him. We call it co-opetition. He has seen them 20% off.
Jesse: It is true.
Jeremy: And by the way, we did not mean 20% off as in like get 20% off sale. He means 20% inaccurate.
Andy: You think about a $300,000 house, that is missing the mark by 60 grand.
Jeremy: Yeah, that is a good way to put it into perspective.
Andy: Holy cow.
Jeremy: And a $300,000 is the average value really in Washington County.
Andy: That is a swing and a miss.
Jesse: 350 is the average value in Washington County.
Jeremy: And well by the way, that is again why averages suck. Because it is really not —
Jesse: Right.
Jeremy: Does that make sense? You have to look at what are people really buying. 300. Right?
Jesse: Yep.
Jeremy: Isn’t that true? So isn’t it funny?
Jesse: Well, between three and four is a really pretty good solid market.
Jeremy: Yeah, because it comes up at 350. And what can people really afford? 250.
Jesse: 250. Yeah. That is even lower.
Jeremy: Not that what you are saying is not correct. I am simply saying that is why these statistics –
Jesse: I know. It is okay. You always have to (indiscernible)
Jeremy: The statistics like, so the average, again, we averaged it up. So what does this tell us? Here is the challenge with that. Now we have decided that because the average sales price is 350, that is about what people can afford. That is what we think.
Jesse: Right. And there are so many people that cannot.
Jeremy: 90%. Right?
Andy: Yeah.
Jeremy: 90% of consumers are not going to be able to buy in Washington County a $350,000 —
Jesse: No.
Jeremy: I think that is real. Now, here is the crazy part about it. You could argue and say well, how is that possible because all of the houses are selling for that much. Well, you are not taking into account how many of the people do not live here that are buying the houses.
Jesse: Yeah, we are not necessarily a normal market. Most of our buyers are either coming in from California or Salt Lake or somebody wanting to retire here or buy a second home because we are really a resort market.
Jeremy: Yeah, we are. And we get a little passionate. So maybe 90% is probably extreme. So a lot of folks cannot afford –
Jesse: There is a lot.
Jeremy: And certainly on a single household income that is the case.
Jesse: Yeah.
Jeremy: So Zillow’s accuracy table that they produced, so they are saying well, we are one of four stars in Utah. We are not doing great. Well, they are not doing well at all. Let me tell you where else they stink. This one shocks me. Texas.
Jesse: Texas. Well, no it does not. It is also a non-disclosure state.
Jeremy: Oh that is why. Jesse, help our listeners understand what that means.
Jesse: In the state of Utah, a seller that sells their home does not have to tell the state of Utah or anybody else what they sold for. Now that data is available through the MLS or the Multiple Listing Service, but when we fill out the form that says we are a new resident, we do not have to tell the state what we paid for that home. So therefore,
Jeremy: Non-disclosure.
Jesse: It is not public record.
Jeremy: So when you look at the public record it says the home was sold for $10 or other good and valuable consideration.
Jesse: Right.
Jeremy: It is a static. That is all they put on the bead.
Jesse: So that is kind of confusing because in the Multiple Listing Service, if it was sold there, that data is there. But it is not shared with the state, or the tax assessors.
Jeremy: Yeah.
Jesse: Is that pretty accurate?
Andy: So what you are really saying is Zestimate is just relying on what is given to them instead of going out and getting it? They are not working very hard to chase it down.
Jeremy: They are not.
Jesse: They cannot work very hard.
Jeremy: It is just a computerized model. It is a computerized model. Let’s break this into real terms then. All right. So if you are considering buying or selling a home right now, and if you own a home and you have owned it more than a year, let’s say you have owned it two years, and you thought I do not know if I want to live here. I have an investment property. I do not know if I want to sit on it. This would be that time. If you are thinking of selling because you want to sell because you have a reason to sell, then that is what you do. How often do we get the question is this a good time to sell? It is like well, what do you want to do? Well, we want to move. It is a great time. That is a personal decision. But if you are sitting on a property where it is like an investment property and you have been hanging around and you are wondering I wonder if I should sell this, you probably should because what we are able to do is take the data, the actual history. The crazy part about real estate is we can look in the rearview mirror quite nicely.
Jesse: Right.
Jeremy: Right. We can definitely see what happened behind us. And we can take what happened behind us and make our very best guesstimate rather than Zestimate about what will happen in front of us. And what we know is that the market is at a seven-year, actually at a 10-year peak, but we have been on a seven-year run, and I refer to this as the biblical account of 7 years of famine and 7 years of plenty. And we had 7 years, if you look back –
Jesse: We did.
Jeremy: — it is about right. And it is 5-7 years of famine. 5-7 years of plenty is what we see in real estate. So every bit of data that we have in front of us tells us that the market peaked in July of 2018. Peaked, past tense. Right? And you are going out there and you are like well I want to get this information. We used Zillow today as our poster child, but any online, heavens, we send people to our Dixie Home Value dot com which is an estimated home value. It is just doing the same thing.
Jesse: And sometimes it is accurate and sometimes it is not.
Jeremy: And we always tell folks, they get an email from us after. Hey how did it look? Did it seem accurate because we cannot even control what that automated –
Jesse: Right. That is true.
Jeremy: — model does.
Jesse: And it cannot, even if you tell it, it cannot know exactly what you have in your home. Do you have tile? Do you have granite? An algorithm –
Jeremy: 2×6, 2×4.
Jesse: An algorithm can never take what you are typing in there and spit out a true –
Jeremy: It is funny because a home is a commodity and it is also not. Meaning it is a thing made up of commodities but then they are always unique in every neighborhood, and every neighborhood is unique.
Jesse: Right. I want to go back to something you said earlier because you talked about the guy from California sending you that text. The online easy button, going online and getting this done is kind of a trap. So we have actually sold a home another vacation rental home for that same gentleman before. And had it sold pretty quickly for good money. But the easy thing to do would be just to reach out and say hey, do you think or the last time he hired a property manager who, a home like that needs somebody that is selling a lot of homes. Not renting them.
Jeremy: A full market presentation. Right?
Jesse: But it was easy to do. It is easy to go on Zillow or somewhere to find your home value. But is it going to be the best value? Is it going to be the best strategy?
Jeremy: Let’s talk about, as we wrap up this show today. If you are thinking about buying or selling, I just strongly recommend you either call us at the Larkin Group or you call your friend who you trust as a real estate agent. You call a professional. You can visit us at Sold in St. George dot com, and you say look, by the way, look at Zillow. For sure, everyone is going to look at Zillow. We do not have any problem with that. When I go into an appointment with a seller, I have already looked at it every time because I need to know, but what Jesse is talking about, look we are in this process of understanding what the consumer wants, and the consumer wants options. So if you want to sell your home, when we meet we are going to give you a couple of options. And one is our Instant Offer Program, which is where one of our investment groups can make you an instant offer on your property, cash, close 7-14 days, 30 days whatever you want. You do not have to clean it up. You have to move your stuff out. No staging. No repairs. Subject to an inspection. Right? They can make an offer. And that is what we call maximum convenience. You do not have to go through any of the heck and hell of bringing strangers in your home and all that. But most people, as in 95%, will not do that. 95% will opt to get a full market valuation. Say Jeremy, Jesse, show me how to get the most money out of my home. And that is what we call maximum value. So maximum convenience is an instant offer. Maximum value is we help you get the home staged, prepared, prepped. We market the property. We show it to lots of buyers, lots of agents. We bring people through. We negotiate a contract. We send you on your way. So let us do that. And this is really fun. And realtors are like how can you possibly do that? Hey realtors that are listening right now, is this fun? You can do that, too. My competitors who are listening, you can do this. Why can’t you do the same thing? We have buyers lined up. Investors. Now, the investors, because it is maximum convenience, they are going to pay less. Right?
Jesse: They are.
Jeremy: But everyone’s situation is unique. Guys, avoid the Zillow dot com trap, buying and selling. Make sure you call a pro. Thanks, guys.
Andy: Thanks for listening. St. George Real Estate Morning Drive. Jeremy Larkin. Jesse here, too. I am Andy Griffin. It is time for news.