The Internet is the future of commerce, right? You can use it to buy sneakers, groceries, cars, and now…homes? That’s right. Consumers can simply log onto the nearest computer and snatch up properties without even physically walking through the home in person, thanks to online flippers called iBuyers.
IBuyers such as Offerpad, Opendoor, and RedfinNow, make data-driven cash purchases of properties, make minor updates and repairs to the homes, and resell them on the open market. Buyers then purchase the property solely based on the online listing and maybe a 3D virtual tour.
With the news of Zillow retreating from the iBuyer market, we could only wonder, is online home buying here to stay? And if so, where? To find out, we decided to analyze which cities are the best and worst for virtual home buyers. based on the number of homes in the area that offer a 3D tour and the average home price.
We based our analysis on the 49 most populous cities in the U.S. to ensure high sample sizes of home listings. We focused on the number of nearby homes offering an online 3D tour and relevant factors like home value and average list price in each city. Specifically, we gathered the following factors for each of the 49 cities in our analysis:
Zillow Home Value Index
For Sale Inventory
Median List Price
Note: The Zillow Home Value Index (ZHVI) is a smoothed, seasonally adjusted measure of the typical home value and market changes across a given region and housing type. It reflects the typical value for the region’s homes within the 35th to 65th percentile range. Importantly, ZHVI dollar amounts reflect the typical home value for the region—not the median home value.
After collecting the individual city factors above, we assigned each one with an appropriate weight given their importance in determining a city’s value for buying homes online. We then assigned each city a score of 0-5 for each ranking factor based on the raw value and its weight. Individual factor scores were then added together to give each city a final score from 0-50. Higher scores indicate cities are better for buying homes from Zillow online.
Nashville and Salt Lake City were not included in the final results due to insufficient data available. The remaining 47 cities were ranked according to their individual factor scores and weights.
Read on to see what we found.
The 20 Best U.S. Cities for Online Home Buyers, According to Zillow
First, we looked at the 20 best cities for Zillow home buyers. Offering a whopping 20,244 available properties at a median list price of just over $322,000, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is the number one city for home buyers. The typical home value is even lower—$225,000—making it even more affordable for those looking to settle into the City of Brotherly Love. Additionally, while not the most on our list, there are 315 listings with 3D showings online for those who want to attend open houses from the comfort of their couch.
Just shy of Philadelphia’s city score of 47.62 out of 50, Houston, Texas took second place with a city score of 47.02. The Southern mecca has more than 8,000 more listings than Philadelphia and almost 400 additional online 3D showings, but the higher median list price took the city down a notch for prospective buyers.
Going down the list, Chicago, Illinois came in third with a score of 46.92 and Phoenix Arizona was fourth with a score of 44.97. Washington, D.C. rounded out the top five cities for Zillow home buyers with a score of 42.29.
The 10 Worst U.S. Cities for Online Home Buyers, According to Zillow
So, what about the worst cities for Zillow home buyers? With a whopping median list price of 1,249,333, we’re not surprised to see San Jose, California score 8.11 out of 50 and take the title as the worst U.S. city for Zillow home buyers. In addition to eye-popping prices, the city only has 104 listings out of 3,029 with 3D showings available.
Other large metropolitan areas where homes are notoriously expensive suffered in our ranking as well. We saw San Diego, California, Buffalo, New York, and Memphis, Tennessee on the list in third, ninth, and tenth place, respectively.
But where the top 10 worst cities for Zillow home buyers really failed is their lack of 3D tours online. In Hartford, Connecticut, sixth in the ranking, just 2 out of 3,616 listings had them. Likewise in Birmingham, Alabama, which placed eighth, only 3 out of 4,068 listings featured 3D tours.
Scores by City
Do you live in one of the top 47 most populous cities in the U.S. and want to know where it ranks in terms of buying a home on Zillow? Check out our full dataset above to find out. We included all the cities in our analysis as well as the raw data for each ranking factor so you can further analyze why your home city did well or not so well in the ranking.
While Zillow reportedly pulled out of buying homes online due to paying prices they could not recoup when selling them, it’s still very easy for consumers to log on and purchase a home without even setting foot on the front lawn. Some states are better than others for doing this, as we have seen above, but we at Repair Pricer don’t recommend it at all. When you visit a property in person, you gain invaluable information about its condition that you’d never discover through a webcam. Additionally, you should always have a professional home inspection performed to uncover hidden repairs and potential dangers of your new home.
At Repair Pricer, we’ll take a look at your home inspection report and turn it into a comprehensive list of repairs and estimates that are easy to understand. Learn more today!