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Avid AVM aversion extends only to Zillow.com: NCRC off-shoot starts competing on-line valuation service . . .

Curiouser and curiouser. Could it be that NCRC’s motive is not to shake-down Zillow.com but to sully its reputation, in advance of going into competition against it? From InmanNews (fingered by Jim Duncan of Real Central VA):

Zillow officials say their valuations should also be seen as a starting point for consumers who want to learn more about the value of their homes.

But the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit, has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission alleging that Zillow does not adequately disclose the degree to which its free automated home valuations can over- or underestimate a property’s value. The site is “likely to cause substantial injury to consumers who rely on the inaccurate representations made by the company,” the complaint alleged.

Zillow officials called the allegations groundless, saying they make every effort to explain the site’s role as a starting point for research, and display accuracy rates for every area covered by the site.

In a confusing twist, a nonprofit group formed by NCRC to promote best practices in the appraisal industry has hired another company, Eppraisal LLC, to provide a service similar to Saris Technologies’ eppraisal.com.

The NCRC offshoot, the Center for Responsible Appraisals and Valuations, is contracting with Eppraisal LLC to operate its www.BuySmartProgram.com Web site, which offers consumers appraisals using an automated valuation model in conjunction with the services of an appraiser.

NCRC vice president David Berenbaum said there is no contradiction in NCRC’s complaint against Zillow and CRAV’s use of an AVM on the www.BuySmartProgram.com Web site.

“The product being offered is an appraisal involving a site visit. It is not limited to an AVM,” Berenbaum said. “We do not have a problem with accurate AVMs, especially if they are combined with (the services of) an appraiser.”

Berenbaum said Eppraisal LLC is a subcontractor with no influence over policy decisions at NCRC or CRAV.

Based in Mayfield Heights, Ohio, Eppraisal LLC offers access to a network of 10,000 appraisers through its Web site, www.uappraiseit.com.

Scott said the term eppraisal has not been trademarked, and that Saris and its www.eppraisal.com service have no ties to Eppraisal LLC.

Another unrelated company with a similar name, Missouri-based Eppraisals, has developed a wireless technology for conducting residential appraisals and owns the Web site www.eppraisals.biz.

This was in the original press release, which at the time I found odd:

Vicky Cassens Zillioux, a member of the Center for Responsible Appraisals & Valuations (CRAV) Partners Council and a respected valuation professional affiliated with? Strategic Development Worldwide, commented on the significance of the FTC filing. “Valuing a property for a financial decision is not a game – and should not be treated lightly by the consumer, lender, or the vendor supplying that value. When you consider how much testing and due diligence the banking regulators require for lenders to use AVMs, it seems that a similar level of accuracy should be expected by the consumer at www.Zillow.com”

Not so unusual in light of this announcement.

It’s a whole new angle on corruption: CRAV is getting ready to launch an AVM, so it gets NCRC to attack the top dog in the on-line AVM business. If this is true, the whole thing is even worse than I’ve been saying all along…

More: From the FTC complaint:

Complainant NCRC is a national non-profit member organization with the mission and purpose of increasing fair and equal access to credit, capital, and banking services and products for all Americans, regardless of race, gender or economic class. With this in mind, the NCRC founded the Center for Responsible Appraisals and Valuations to promote responsible valuation and appraisal practices both in America’s communities and in our financial services markets.

Our story so far:

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5 comments

5 Comments so far

  1. Jay Thompson November 13th, 2006 10:23 am

    Well, isn’t that interesting! Sure seems the “Center for Responsible Appraisals & Valuations” isn’t so… responsible.

    I still say that anyone who would rely only on a piece of software to value what is most likely their single largest assest isn’t the sharpest pencil in the box. But we can’t legislate stupidity.

    It will be quite interesting indeed to see the disclosures CRAV has on their AVM regarding accuracy.

    And on a *totally* unrelated note, what plug-in are you using for your comment “captchas”?

  2. Greg Swann November 13th, 2006 10:34 am

    > And on a *totally* unrelated note, what plug-in are you using for your comment “captchas”?

    Filosofo Comments Preview. Does the previwing and offers the captcha as an option.

  3. Hamptons Real Estate Blog November 16th, 2006 10:03 am

    […] The Bloodhound Blog […]

  4. Ralph Nudi November 25th, 2006 10:54 am

    These AVM sites are not very accurate at all, and I often end up working harder to make my clients understand the true market value of their homes.
    As an expert in the Kenosha, WI real estate market I think it’s safe to say that all real estate like politics is local. I don’t think there is any point of a lawsuit against Zillow, but the average consumer should not lend much creedance to the values either.

    Ralph D. Nudi
    Weichert, Realtors – Unum Properties
    Kenosha, WI
    email: ralph.nudi@gmail.com
    web: http://ralphnudi.com

  5. Rob December 5th, 2006 9:21 am

    Nice blog. I got here from a “splog” that’s stealing your content. probably happens too much in the blog world to do much about it, but here’s the url if you do track this kind of stuff down.

    real-estate dot worldsnews dot net