Archive for the ‘Retirement Real Estate’ Category

The Do’s and Don’ts of Using Zillow to Find Your Florida Dream Home

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016
This could be your winter.

This could be your winter.

By: Adrienne Andreae

It’s going to start snowing again soon. You might be wallowing in fall colors now, but they won’t last. You take to your computer determined to escape before the first flake falls.

While you may not know exactly where in Florida you want to go, you know you’re ready for the Sunshine State. You type in Florida real estate and Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, or Homes.com comes up. It doesn’t matter which one. This advice will work for all of them.

Before I get to my tips, I’ll admit: many realtors hate these sites. You can find countless realtor blog posts lamenting the hazards of using Zillow. I have my moments with Zillow and its competitors, but I also see why many of my customers start on them. My hope is this post will help you understand when these sites will help you as a customer and when they lose their value.

Do Use Zillow: When All You Know is You Want Sunshine.

You’re starting with a wide search radius. You want to go south. Your priority is to end the snow in your life. Maybe you’ve been renting a beach condo in Destin for ten years. You love it there, but you want to explore all your options. Maybe you haven’t been to Florida since you took the kids to Disneyworld in 1997. Maybe you’re even looking at Arizona and haven’t decided on a state yet.

Zillow and Realtor.com are fine sites for you. You can get started and see what areas fit your price range.

Don’t Use Zillow: When You Know What You Want Out of Retirement

You’ve waited thirty years to live near the beach or the golf course or, like many of my customers, to have your boat in your backyard. Zillow won’t tell you that Punta Gorda is consistently rated one of the best small boating towns in Florida. You may have to Google and ask your boating friends. You may have to play around on boating websites or read about us in boating magazines. You’re better off doing the research on areas that you allow you to successfully live your dream. Most realtor websites will let you check listings, and you will find them more accurate than Zillow.

Zillow can't tell you which dock fits your boat best.

Zillow can’t tell you which dock fits your boat best.

Do Use Zillow When You’re Just Curious

Want to know if it’s possible to find any house in Punta Gorda Isles under $300,000? You’re not looking to buy. You just want to know, like you might want to know what $1 million dollars gets in Boston versus Tampa. Zillow is a great distraction and fun site to poke around.

Don’t Use Zillow For Market Research

Zillow farms off the MLS. Therefore, it is often not current. Realtors may change a status in the MLS and sometimes Zillow and Realtor.com miss the update. I have gotten calls about foreclosures that happened years ago. Even in Zillow’s own Advice section, I found questions from homeowners looking to take the home they bought a year ago off Zillow. If you’re really looking for property, call a real estate agent or at least, use a realtor’s site.

There are countless stories of the Zestimate’s inaccuracy. I won’t get to into it here. I tried to figure out how they get their numbers, but I know too much about the Punta Gorda market. They make no sense.

(My favorite story about the Zestimates is the one about the CEO of Zillow sold his home at 60% of the Zestimate.)

Do Use Zillow: If you’re more than 3 years from retirement

You’re sitting at your desk right now dreaming of boating. I’m sorry. I did that to you with the picture above and now you’re wishing you could retire tomorrow. But the kids are small or in college and you know you’re ten years away, at least. You go on Zillow to play around, daydream, and find out what penthouses in New York cost. This is normal. Zillow can be fun.

Don’t Use Zillow: If you’re within 3 years of retirement

You’re close. You may not know what city you want, but you do know you prefer west coast Florida over east coast. You want water in your backyard and sunshine. As you narrow down your scope and retirement gets closer, you should start contacting realtors. You may think four years is a long way out, but this is when you can start paying attention to the markets in the areas you’re interested in. Believe it or not, I’ve had customers call me ten years from retirement. This is a little far out, but it takes nothing for me to add them to my email list. You can start watching the market at anytime.

In Punta Gorda, where the rental market is fantastic, I have many buyers who start to see changes in the market and decide to buy now, rent the home out for a few years and then retire in it. You can only do that if you’re paying attention to good information.

Don’t Fall in Love with a Home on Zillow Before Talking to a Realtor

My final piece of advice is to resist falling madly in love with that great deal you found on Zillow. That house may be the deal Zillow presents  or it may have sold six months ago or have issues Zillow can’t know about. It happens often that a new customer calls me excited about the home they’re going to buy and I know immediately it is not what they think. I’d rather walk you through the process than be the one to tell you your dream is not what you see on the internet.

Have you used Zillow? Is it time to reach out to a realtor? We’d love to hear from you. You can call us at 941-833-4217 or email us at info@andreaegroup.com.