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There’s always something to howl about

Zindicated! Is this Zillowed seller proof of the need for even greater Zillification?

Frankly, no.

Christine at NY Houses 4 Sale cites a Realty Times article about a seller who immediately pulled his home off the market after a prospective buyer confronted him with a Zestimate $500,000 below his assessed value. His conclusion is that Zillow.com has made his home unmarketable.

My first reaction is simply to say, “Hysterical much?”

I think Zillow.com misleads consumers by implying that its Automated Valuation Method is a valid and useful way of pricing homes, but I can’t believe that there is any report or document produced by Zillow.com that cannot be completely dispensed with by saying, “Are you utterly daft? If you can buy a house in this neighborhood for half-a-million under market, I’ll help you move in. Now get serious or get lost.” On my planet we call that negotiation.

At NY Houses for Sale, Christine writes:

I am sure that soon there will be more and more complaints and I am also sure that as the market continues to change more and more buyers will be “Zillowing” their neighbor, mothers, brothers, sisters and friends houses. Just as I am sure of those things – I am VERY sure that there will be many buyers coming into homes that are listed claiming that they are over priced. But here is my answer.. “The house is NOT over priced – your Zestimate is UNDER priced”.

And all that will be great. Zillow.com wears a media-conferred halo right now. The more people talk about the incredible, obvious, bone-headed mistakes Zillow cannot help but make, the less people will rely on it — or affect to rely on it. At some point Zillow may elect to tell the truth in no uncertain terms about what an AVM can and cannot do — in order to retain at least a shred of credibility.

But as for this seller: Grow up, cowboy. If there were no Zestimates, the buyer would have tried a different lowball tactic. If you want your house to sell, pay $300 for a spot appraisal, price you home at or below it, and leave a copy of the full appraisal report on the kitchen table. Then coin yourself a new phrase: “Zillow-schmillow! I know what my home is worth!”

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  • 8 comments

    8 Comments so far

    1. Dave Barnes August 31st, 2006 10:43 pm

      Zillow: Garbage In = Garbarge Out.

      I looked up my house.
      Zillow is wrong about:
      1. land area (under)
      2. number of bedrooms (under)
      3. year renovated (30 years)
      4. square footage (over)
      5. garage (attached)

      My ZESTIMATE: $572,776

      Interesting as it was appraised 6 weeks ago for $850K as part of my refi. The appraiser was: knowlegeable and delivered a detailed report.

    2. David G from Zillow.com September 1st, 2006 12:09 pm

      Dave, it’s David G from Zillow.com

      I’m sorry that your house’s details are incorrect. Scenarios like this are the primary reason we built “MyZestimator”; a simple tool for homeowners to recalculate a Zestimate using more accurate home facts. To access this tool, click on “Refine Value of home with MyZestimator” under the Zestimate on the house’s detail page.

      As Greg has pointed previously, the public records for a house can be incorrect and that’s probably the cause of your discrepancies but I’d need your address to confirm my suspicion. Your county assessor will gladly make these corrections but to set expectations, it’s my experience that corrections to the county appraiser’s records, can take a while to bubble up to Zillow.

      Lastly, just a heads-up that we’ve decided to let homeowners edit and publish corrected home facts on Zillow. It’s an exciting development and I for one can’t wait till this feature launches. You can elect to be notified when this feature is launched by opting in to receive a reminder using the checkbox on (the bottom of) Zillow’s feedback form.

      Enjoy the long weekend. And Greg; thanks for the reality check on this story. It seems we can agree.

    3. Greg Swann September 1st, 2006 1:31 pm

      > Your county assessor will gladly make these corrections but to set expectations, it’s my experience that corrections to the county appraiser’s records, can take a while to bubble up to Zillow.

      In Maricopa Count, AZ, it can take years of letter-writing to get an error changed to another, different error!

      > Lastly, just a heads-up that we’ve decided to let homeowners edit and publish corrected home facts on Zillow.

      This is news. Very smart. Like much Web 2.0 stuff, it’s too subjective for my tastes, but it’s a step in the reight direction — human observations versus reliance on records.

      > And Greg; thanks for the reality check on this story. It seems we can agree.

      Fair is fair. I’m an insufferable bastard in all directions.

    4. Christine September 2nd, 2006 8:46 am

      So now there are two things that you can always be wrong about and never have to take the blame for.. . Wheather and the Zestimate of your home. “Go ahead – its not our fault.. this is what your home is worth according to us, but if we are wrong.. blame someone else”.

    5. [...] I’m kinda thinking that they’re on the verge of something like this right now. Take note of this from David Gibbons of Zillow.com in a comment posted here: Lastly, just a heads-up that we’ve decided to let homeowners edit and publish corrected home facts on Zillow. It’s an exciting development and I for one can’t wait till this feature launches. You can elect to be notified when this feature is launched by opting in to receive a reminder using the checkbox on (the bottom of) Zillow’s feedback form. [...]

    6. [...] Lots of talk these days about Zillow, their Zestimate, its accuracy.. etc. [...]

    7. [...] In a comment posted here on September 1, David G. from Zillow.com broke this news: Lastly, just a heads-up that we’ve decided to let homeowners edit and publish corrected home facts on Zillow. [...]

    8. [...] At some point Zillow.com may elect to tell the truth [...]