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February 11, 2006


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Zillow.com is all Ex-Expedia folks. So, they are not new to the web business. I ran my townhouse through Zillow. The price is high compared to what other units are currently getting but about on par with the appraiser's valuation from November 2004.

Following the general rule of start-up software development, they have their product out there and they are building traffic and gaining attention. They'll dial in the valuation part of it as time goes on. In the end, it doesn't need to be spot on. No one is, not even realtors. Any given product is really only worth what you can get someone to pay for it. Zillow just needs to gain a reputation for being in the ballpark. They do that and their traffic levels will remain high because Internet Savvy Joe-Six Pack (that's me) will use it. If enough Joe and Jane six-packs use it, it will become the de facto standard.


Risa and David Weiss

I just had a client quote a Zillow value estimate back to me when I told him his home was over-priced.

Zillow might be able to automatically dig for some data, but there is no substitute for the constant up-to-the-minute market related pricing and activity analysis that all good Realtors do for their clients.

The value Zillow provided was probably appropriate two months ago when the home was listed. 60 days later, it's still on the market. The home is in great condition, and those who know me know that I do great internet and agent-to-agent marketing. You can't change the location of the home, so there is only one variable left...


Zillow can't ever possibly account for day-to-day or month-to-month changes in the marketplace, particularly in a slow market where there aren't as many current transactions as there were in the past.

If you have to pull comps that are 60 or 90 days old, it just won't work in a dynamic marketplace that requires human analysis.


OK. So, how much variation is there in 60 or 90 days? In a market that is rising or falling quickly, the percentage of change would be higher. In stable markets the percentage would be fairly small.

I fully accept that the only way to get a completely accurate valuation is to do the research at the time the valuation is needed. However, in most cases I don't need to the value to the exact dollar. I want a ballpark figure of what my place is worth. Zillow.com has at least the potential to provide that. If over time it proves out that Zillow.com is consistently high in their quotes, that will render it less useful. I suspect that even in that case Zillow.com will thrive because Internet users will still use it. Some will use it not knowing that the quote they're getting is off. Others will have done their research and simply compensate for it.



So, I just spent a little more time using Zillow.com. I think one of the best things it does is educate the buyer/seller. Zillow.com pulls back the vail and let's the user see how prices are set. Suddenly, it's not rocket science. For the most part, it's common sense. I love tools like this. Tools that expose an area previously thought to be the domain of specially trained individuals. I love being able to make my own travel arrangements without involving a travel agent. What a waste of time and money they were.

In zillowblog.com they talk about the feedback they are getting. Number three on the list ranked by percentage is valuations are off. Number one is house details (# bedroom, #bathrooms, etc) are off. I'd be willing to venture a bet that Zillow.com will correct these issues as they improve their product. Realtors can naysay it all they want. I and many others like me will use Zillow.com. And then we'll use the realtors that have embraced Zillow.com and advertise on Zillow.com.


Anita Campbell

Hi Tim,

Yes, it's an interesting marketing campaign. I think what's enticing is its ease of use and the satellite maps that let you look at your house.

I agree that in the end, Zillow will not have much impact on home sales.



i am not sure i would call Zillow.com NOR http://www.HomePricemaps.com DATA PORN, i mean aren’t we helping the consumer make better informed decisions, thus not relying upon the realtor as much, or at least giving the consumer the ability to know when his realtor is screwing him over?

since when is THAT PORN????????????????????

Tim O'Keefe

Re: HomePriceMaps
To say you are displaying home values and you are not is a misrepresentation.

A blogger (can't rmember who) coined it data porn because it looks darn good, it feels darn good, but the continued use of it will not feel very good. and lead to less than desired results.

I would rather trust a licensed Realtor than a website that implys accuracy when in fact it is impossible for it to be assured of accurate data.

This is why (no doubt ) that Zillow has joined a bunch of Realtor Boards and has joined the "dark side" as your tone imply's that Realtors are.

Anyone can get a URL and get a little publicity, some links, spam a few blogs and get traffic.

But at least a Realtor can be held accountable.

Many have tried to draw comparasions of Zillow to Expedia.

The difference was that the Airlines were trying to get rid of the travel agent to save a buck in a very low margin business.

The Airlines control the data.

In real estate NAR controls the data and the parallel to the Travel Agent is the Realtor. The Realtor pays for NAR's existense.

So the thought that this is something that will blow apart existing Real Estate models is albeit tasty for Realtor haters, but also very false.

Mark Vane

Hi, Added a new value add to my blog this weekend - a news widget from www.widgetmate.com. I always wanted to show latest news for my keywords in my sidebar. It was very easy with this widget. Just a small copy paste and it was done. Great indeed.

steve vennemann

Your articles have alot of information on zillow.com thanks. http://www.mnlakeplace.com

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