If you want to be a serious investor, forget the online comps. Go look at 100 or 200 houses that are for sale in your target area and then you will KNOW what houses are worth. Real estate investing is not a virtual internet business, but rather a real get-out-of-the-house hands on business.
Ditto on Mike’s and Keith’s comments. There is nothing like driving the 100-200 properties in your target market, then getting a lead on a property and you immediately know the value because you were there and saw it with your own eyes, touched it so to speak. I used to be an appraiser in Los Angeles and from there went into the investing end. Knowing the values in this way allows you to make faster deals at better prices and with fewer mistakes. Invaluable.
I seriously doubt if Zillow has field agents doing this in which case they’re miles behind the eightball.
Yes, take zillow with a grain of salt. Its strictly a database firm using recent sales, tax assessed values and appreciation assumptions to estimate a homes value. I’ve found they overestimate values in my area of knowledge. Plus, since they have no boots on the ground they have no clue as to what the physical condition of a structure might be.