Appraisal News and Business Tips

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Zillow CEO sold his home for 60 percent of the Zestimate

There is nothing wrong with Zestimates, unless you want to know what your home is worth.

From Jonathan Miller’s Housing Notes

Note: Scroll down the linked page to read this section

Excerpts:

The day after the home sold for $1,050,000, the Zestimate showed a value of $1,750,405. This indicates that their CEO took a 40% haircut on the value of his home which was exposed to the market for a reasonable time and sold for 19% below its list price. But of course he didn’t dump the property. It couldn’t have been worth anything close to the Zestimate since the property was exposed to the market for a reasonable period of time and sold well below the list price which was well below the Zestimate.

The people at Zillow are smart and built a strong ground breaking brand, but that doesn’t always mean they are making the right decisions. Little did I know, when I met one of the founders at a party the day before they launched a decade ago, how much disruption they would cause. I innocently asked the question, “So, what do you do?” And in the response I heard things like “Expedia” and “Rhymes with Pillow.” Their intro to the public began with the “Zestimate” which unleashed a property narcissism within us as we have checked the value of our homes and compared those values to the houses of friends, colleagues, neighbors, celebrities, etc. That search tool was later de-emphasized as they focused on listings and building a nationwide property database.

Read this Most Interesting article, including Miller’s “insider” comments at:

http://www.millersamuel.com/note/may-27-2016/?goal=0_69c077008e-65219836a6-116855313

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Also, read this article from Inman about Zillow:

Excerpt:

Citing the chasm between the sales price of Rascoff’s former home and the property’s Zestimate may be one way for real estate professionals to show clients that Zestimates are, as Zillow says, only a conversation starter for pricing a home, not the final word on its value.

Philip Gray, a San Leandro, California-based appraiser, is taking this approach. Bringing up the Zestimate of the property Rascoff recently offloaded will help him deal with the frequent pushback he receives from homeowners “who think Zillow is the magic 8-ball,” he said.

https://www.inman.com/2016/05/18/zillow-ceo-spencer-rascoff-sold-home-for-much-less-than-zestimate/

My comments: One of my most popular blog postings, even today, is from a few years ago, is about Zillow. I regularly have people tell me what Zillow said their house was worth. Of course, I say that it is not very accurate, but it is hard for an appraiser to compete with a free “number”. Guess maybe I should write up something for consumers. Now I have something to say ;>

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Statistics and Appraisal Data

The key to any statistical analysis is DATA, DATA, DATA!!

Single family real estate data is not very reliable or consistent, and not enough is available in many areas, as we all know.

CU is the most significant attempt to get more useful data by requiring appraisers do use specific coding and criteria. However, real estate is local, local, local. Even the number of bedrooms varies a lot as there are different criteria for determining what is a bedroom, even in the same city. Three appraisers measuring the same house will probably not have the same square footage, as I learned doing relocation appraisals.

With CU, this is becoming more obvious as there are sometimes wide variations in how appraisers code factors. For example, why do condition ratings vary? How accurate is MLS? Is public records accurate? What is the best source?

Now that regression software is popular with appraisers for getting adjustments, I have been thinking about why it is often not very reliable. To understand even simple regression requires knowledge.

My first statistics class was in 1963. The first time I used multiple regression was in graduate business school in 1979, when I did a mini-thesis on factors in REIT stock volatility using SPSS.I used a remote university mainframe that kept blowing up and erasing my data. There were no data issues. Doing multiple regression analysis on real estate housing data was not possible. Way too much lack of usable data.

Since I started my Appraisal Today newsletter in 1992, I have been writing about AVMs. The less data that is available, the less reliable the value.

As we all know, AVMs work well in a conforming home in a large tract of similar homes, built in the past 10 years. After that, the accuracy and reliability goes down fast. Just check what Zillow’s Zestimate against your appraised value.

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Zillow (in) accuracy

Inaccurate Zillow ‘Zestimates’ a source of conflict over home prices
By Ken Harney
Excerpts: Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff…says Zestimates are “a good starting point” but that nationwide Zestimates have a “median error rate” of about 8%.
Shoppers, sellers and buyers routinely quote Zestimates to realty agents – and to one another – as gauges of market value. If a house for sale has a Zestimate of $350,000, a buyer might challenge the sellers’ list price of $425,000. Or a seller might demand to know from potential listing brokers why they say a property should sell for just $595,000 when Zillow has it at $685,000.
My comments: Ken Harney is a long time, nationally syndicated real estate writer. Hopefully, people will read this article. Lots of people I know tell me what “values” they are getting from Zillow. Zillow collects lots of sales data. But, I suspect they are using a radius search or something else that does not match a neighborhood at all for their AVM. I do love the Zillow data and graphs though. Look ‘behind” the Zestimate. As we all know, AVMs work best in conforming homes in conforming tracts less than 10 years old, and goes downhill from there.

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