Zillow, and the infamous Z-Estimate, may fit in well in some parts of the country, but here in Naples, they tend to be a bit obsolete.

Tom Brady, the star quarterback of the New England Patriots, is a legendary football player, but that doesn’t mean he can tackle a running back.

Similarly, Zillow is perhaps the nation’s most revered real estate resource, but in Naples, it’s can be as useless as a hall of fame quarterback playing defense.

Zillow does have incredible technology and it’s backed by some of the smartest economists in the world.  And in the opinion of this real estate agent, it has made big strides in the past few years.  However, in niche markets, especially luxury niche markets like Naples, you really need a personal approach.

You need to use your five senses when evaluating the Naples real estate market, not a national technological tool.

What do the other homes on the street look like?  Are they primarily new builds with beautiful design and eight, nine or even ten million dollar price tags?  Or, are they charming ranches and cottages that popped up many decades ago?

Can you hear the gulf of Mexico?  Or maybe you can see another body of water, like a bay, a canal or a lake.  Can you walk to sunset, or bike to your favorite coffee shop?

In the evening, can you smell the amazing aromas coming from world class restaurants on 5th Avenue South, or hear the live music on Third Street?

How deep is the lot that the house is on, and does the backyard face North or South?  Are you within walking distance to Cambier Park, or as close as you need to be to your favorite shops and art galleries?

As Naples has continued to evolve as a world class city, the real estate market has gotten more and more complex.  Even successful CEO’s and business leaders from around the world have a hard time wrapping their minds around all of the most important details.

Zillow cannot experience Naples and then tell you how to handle the real estate market.  That can only be done by a real human being – preferably one that is well-trained and who has experienced the Naples lifestyle firsthand.

As you make your way to Naples this winter, don’t rely on technology to help you get a handle on the real estate market.  Instead, enlist the help of a trusted real estate agent.  Check their website to see if they are up with the times, and ask for references.

In the same way that the Patriots are smart enough to let Tom Brady do what he does best, you want to partner with an agent that can really give you an edge on the competition.

There are a lot of people that want to find a great place in Naples, but so many miss opportunities and are left sitting on the sidelines.

Connect with an agent that has your best interest in mind and can help you learn the unique details of the market.  A great restaurant recommendation shouldn’t be too much to ask either.

Enjoy your stay.

Chip James is a licensed Realtor and sales associate alongside Karen Van Arsdale with Premier Sotheby’s International Realty.  Ms. Van Arsdale was named the #18 real estate agent in the country in 2015 by Wall Street Journal’s Real Trends Magazine.