Wow! I have started to comment on this great marketing campaign, but I actually deleted the post yesterday. I didn't want to beat a dead horse. But it is a story that won't die as they eclipse 63 stories on Google news.
I was going to go on a rant by asking the questions what is so new about this service? Other than its free (for awhile ;-) anyway). The public has always been able to get this data for nominal fees or like I have had access to it thru my many title friends. So is it the packaging that must be so appealing?
And as any Realtor, or Ex Realtor like myself knows, the data from the public record sucks. So there, I went and said it! Man I feel better :-)
Well, I have seen the same conclusion on numerous real estate industry blogs and newslists.
Like myself, most of these writers and bloggers have plugged in their own address into Zillow and got the wrong information. Either too many bedrooms, too little or too much square feet because of remodels. Some commentators are reporting values up to a third too shallow.
Man, if everyone followed the public records, we would have a bubble burst! ;-) The Realtor data, ie the MLS is where the most accurate data is served and as of yet I have not seen that married. (Realtor.com/NAR there is your future business model hint for the week.)
Dustin took what I just rambled about and said it in a couple sentences.
Over at Venture Blog, they quote Zillow.com President Lloyd Frink on user feedback and poor results:
"As for improving the Zestimate accuracy, we have lots of good ideas there. Many of these relate to improvements in the core algorithm we use to calculate the Zestimate. Others have to do with getting more and better data on individual homes."
My math may be a bit rusty, but you can call it an algo adjustment or any fancy name. But a guess, is still a guess.
Maybe it would help if they had the real sale prices. They don't, and they probably won't, unless they do a deal with NAR.
Even, then it is a poor guess because only an expert like a Realtor can offer expert opinion, which a machine cannot give.
I believe the lesson here is that you can get terrific exposure and create positive public opinion with phenomenal marketing. Zillow is great at marketing so far. They have created a buzz. But they have not built a better mousetrap.