October 12, 2006 at 4:16 PM #7727ezpassParticipant
Thank you for taking the time to contact us.
Zillow is a private company, not a public government record. That is the reason why we are not involved in taxation. We are not worried about having enough sales because we do not plan to be an agent or act as an agent in any real estate transactions. Our main goal is to provide information (using data available from your local county or municipal land record) to help users make smarter real estate decisions.
To explain further the Zestimate we provide, hundreds of home details feed into our formula and the home characteristics are given different weights according to their influence in a given geography and over a specific period of time. And, because the details are always changing, the Zestimate is extremely timely — it indicates the value of a home based on the most recent data available in an area. We receive new data and update the Zestimate regularly to capture new sales in a neighborhood. However, there is a delay between when the county is notified of a transaction and when we find out about it. We might not know for some time about the sale of that house down the street from you that happened last week.
To address the reliability of our formula, in the future we plan to incorporate owner-updated facts into our core Zestimate algorithm. This will absolutely help to make Zestimates more current and accurate.
Also, we not only have Zestimates for homes now, we have used massive computing cycles to go back in time to generate historic Zestimates as well. Sound hard? It is, but it’s critical because it allows you to see how a home (or an area) has appreciated in value over the years. You can see a home’s appreciation in a chart that looks just like a stock table. Your home is, after all, a major asset in your overall portfolio.
We update Zestimates approximately on a weekly basis (we are working towards more regular updates – bear with us, we’re a beta site). Eventually we will have daily updates. The best way for you to track a home is to sign up for email updates on a home’s details page – these come to you via email every 30 days (after you enter an address, click the home on the map and the home details page comes right after; email sign-up is in a blue box to the right).
Here are more details in a blog we wrote a few weeks ago: http://www.zillowblog.com/zillow_blog/2006/03/updated_zestima.htmlOctober 12, 2006 at 9:49 PM #37794BuyerWillEPBParticipant
Thanks for the post EZ. I hope this site can get their act together in an accurate and timely manner. They do have real potential I think, but at the moment they seem to have problems.October 13, 2006 at 8:03 AM #37808lindismithParticipant
Yeah, thanks for posting this. Interesting. Seems like their data will only be valuable when the it’s like the stock ticker: up to the minute. That presumes however, that our whole culture has bought into the fact that a home is not a place to live, but just an investment. Is that the thinking we’re stuck in at the moment? (And preceeding 3-5 years?) Is that why Zillow thinks they provide a much-needed service?
Without the bubble, would Zillow have been invented?October 13, 2006 at 8:30 PM #37863Diego MamaniParticipant
People don’t get it… Zillow is not supposed to replace an appraiser or be “accurate”. It has some hard facts that are very useful: sale history, nearby comps, square footage, year built, pictures from many angles, etc. That alone makes it very valuable. The “zestimate” is an educated guess based on a formula they compute based on a number of factors. What surprises me is how so many people are “shocked” that zillow estimates are off. Of course they are off! Do you expect Zillow to appraise each house individually? There are millions of houses in their system, and “values” are simply as crunched by a computer. Is that so hard to understand?October 13, 2006 at 9:56 PM #37870lindismithParticipant
ok, well then just to play devil’s advocate, why would they go to so much trouble to tout their Zestimate, if indeed it’s not worth anything? I mean, I think it’s trademarked (or tradenamed etc.)!!
I think we all realize it can’t replace an appraiser, but if it’s so off, what’s the point in having it?October 13, 2006 at 10:39 PM #37872SD RealtorParticipant
Lindi it is because Zillow is not marketing to people who really know what is going on. They market to the average consumer who is just cruising around on line. People on this site have done thier homework and are very adept at comping properties that they are truly interested in.
SD RealtorOctober 13, 2006 at 11:36 PM #37873sdrealtorParticipant
“It has some hard facts that are very useful: sale history, nearby comps, square footage, year built,”
Unfortunately these are not HARD facts. Sales history doesnt include seller concessions, square fortage is frequently under or over stated and year built is often wrong also. As for the comps, they frequently pick the wrong ones.October 14, 2006 at 7:01 AM #37874lostkittyParticipant
Getting the sales history so easily at zillow is interesting and helpful. (So are the graphs!)
Where else on the web can you get past sales info, for the entire US, so easily and for free?
If some yay-hoo bought his place for $300k a year ago and is trying to pawn it off (after just a paint make-over) for $500k, I would want to know that. I dont want to be totally dependent on a realtor to do it either.
Information is always good. We’ve been over and over the “zestimate” feature of the site… it’s not accurate, and things are changing so rapidly in the real estate market, that it is not likely to be accurate for some time, and will never be totally accurate… but there is still a lot of value in being able to look up the sales history, etc.October 14, 2006 at 9:19 AM #37883PerryChaseParticipant
You’re right lostkitty. The more info the better.
For every real estate listing, I would like to see the sales history and property tax information. I would like to know if the house is a flip or if it had a lot turn over. That might indicate something wrong with it or the neighborhood.
Let the consumers have the information and let them make what they will with it. We don’t need gatekeepers to filter and interpret the info for us. If we need assistance, it’s only a phone call away.October 15, 2006 at 8:44 AM #37916speedingpulletParticipant
Indeed – Knowledge is Power.October 15, 2006 at 10:40 AM #37928PDParticipant
The information zillow provides opened the floodgates of information for the consumer. Tons of information is now only a couple of clicks away. In a fast moving market, the estimates are going to be off. The fact that there is a lag in the “zestimate” does not make it useless. I think it is fantastic.
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