There are somethings online apps can do very well and have displaced previous tools and even some professions are feeling the competition.
But for complex and nuanced operations, that require specialized knowledge and the use of judgment that varies from case to individual case, no app can compete against a trained professional.
That’s why an app won’t be defending you against a civil tort in court any time soon, and also why time again, findings show that online real estate appraisal app Zillow can often wildly miss the mark with its “Zestimate,” or estimate of a house’s value.
In 2007, Fortune said:
“Zillow has Zestimated the value of 57 percent of U.S. housing stock, but only 65 percent of that could be considered ‘accurate’—by its definition, within 10 percent of the actual selling price. And even that accuracy isn’t equally distributed.”
Fortune cited the state of Louisiana as an example, where it said “the site is just about worthless.” In 2014, the Washington Post reported that only half the time does a Zillow estimate get within 5% of a home’s value. The rest of the time it can be 10 or 20 percent off target.
Zillow itself has this disclaimer about its Zestimate:
“The Zestimate is not an appraisal and you won’t be able to use it in place of an appraisal. Zillow does not offer the Zestimate as the basis of any specific real-estate related financial transaction. Our data sources may be incomplete or incorrect; also, we have not physically inspected a specific home. Remember, the Zestimate is a starting point and does not consider all the market intricacies that can determine the actual price a house will sell for.”
In 2016, Zillow’s own accuracy data reported that on average, the Zestimate is off by $14,000 both high and low. In 2017, Investopedia warned buyers and sellers that Zillow “is not as accurate as you think.”