Wednesday, February 08, 2006

New Home Valuation Tool


The Travelgnome let me know that Zillow.com, a new home valuation site, launched today. He saw the article on CNNMoney and passed it along. Apparently Zillow in it's beta state was completely unprepared for the onslaught of traffic and was offline most of the day. This was frustrating just because I was dying to check them out. But I forgive them (been there...it's not pleasant) and they do seem to be stable now.

Zillow aims to empower buyers, sellers and homeowners in the realm of real estate...and they are starting by providing a robust and flexible tool for home valuation. Aside from the implications for buying and selling real estate, if you are a homeowner trying to track your networth, this is sexy stuff.

No more wading through sites that solely treat you as a sales lead for real estate agents or mortgages...and no more huge meaningless range from HomeValueBot. Zillow formulates your initial "Zestimate" based on comps (comparable recent home sales) but they allow you to leverage your unique knowledge of your property to "tweak" the value. You can further qualify your results by adding certain home improvements and even noting things that would reduce the value of your home (say, if you needed a new roof). And you can even choose your own comps...since of course you know your neighborhood best.

According to the CNN article they also factor in variables that affect the entire market (such as current interest rates) so you have a pretty good shot at a decent valuation if your data is accurate and they have good data coverage for your area.

I am really excited that someone is finally attempting to do what Domania promised when they launched in 2000. I worked for Domania back then and we had built a promising valuation tool that was recently taken offline that I miss every time I have been forced to settle for HomeValueBot. I think Zillow is my new crush.


4 comments:

  1. Now that zillow is FINALLY up, i did what everybody else probably did upon hearing about it... I plugged in my home address.

    It had the last date of purchase wrong (by two months), and the "zestimate" was off by about $100K.

    And the map didn't work at all for me in firefox.

    Right now, zillow gets a solid "meh".

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  2. That's odd...the map worked fine for me in firefox (on both windows and mac and different firefox versions too)

    Did you twiddle your zestimate? I think that a) you got a good deal (meaning low starting price for the math) and b) your interior is swanky for what you paid

    Also did you check their rating of their data coverage? The less data they have, the harder it is to get an accurate statistic.

    My point is that the accuracy of the zestimate is dependent on both the abundance of comps in your area and the accuracy of the data you put in to refine it to your specific house.

    I think it's the "customizing" part that has me the most excited...and it IS beta ;) HomeValueBot allows you to put in one lump sum of improvements to your home and one date for when the improvements were completed. With Zillow I could specify our complete kitchen remodel (mid-range) separately from our new roof. Each item gets their own cost, and date completed and Zillow computed a "value" for each that brought the zestimate right in line with where I expected it to be.

    I still say it has great potential, but is less useful in beta state for certain folks (less data coverage, etc)

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  3. I looked up my dad's house and my sister's and they seemed to be pretty accurate, maybe a little overvalued on my dad's. I don't think it's up to speed on NYC info yet, though.

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  4. I'm with Travel Gnome. It gets a big *meh* for Arlington. It has last year's assessment (2004) instead of the current one (2005).

    A better one for my parents in PA. And it's very interesting because their neighbors put their place on sale for about $30K more than what Zillow lists. I'll be interested in seeing the final sale results.

    My sister lives in CA and her place seems overvalued, while my boyfriend's home is not listed at all, even though it's been around for about 5 or 6 years.

    I think it'll be interesting in a little while. I'll stick to Zip Realty for a while longer.

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