Zillow.com: A Sign of the Apocolypse for Realtors?

I’m sure you have heard a hubbub recently about this new home valuation site called Zillow. Heck, it’s even over there on the right hand side of the page as a link for you to check out!

If you are new to the Zillow craze, the summary is that the founder of Expedia.com spent a lot of money to consolidate the public records on America’s homes. Go to your community’s website and there is a good chance that you can look up your neighbor’s taxable value, taxes paid last year, building information and even how much they paid for the home. Zillow consolidates that data, runs it through some fancy algorithms, and spits out what they call a “Zestimate,” an estimate on the real time value of your home.

Honestly, if the data for your home is in their database, it can be intriguing to see what comes up as the value of your home.  The “Zillowing” that I have done for clients and my own property, compared to my multi-list information, show their Zestimates to be all over the place.  But hey, they are starting off with data from your local municipality, so bad data in, bad data out. 

The LA Times has an article on Zillow and that it’s not worth losing any sleep over their estimate of your home.  I would say, have fun, with a grain of salt.

After the Jump: Todd’s Opinion of Zillow and Real Estate

There are two opinions in the real estate industry about Zillow and its impact on our profession. One opinion is that sites like this are letting the cow out of the barn, by giving away too much information. They are afraid that the end of the real estate profession is drawing nigh, almost as if the four horsemen have saddled up and are on their way! The other opinion is that this is nothing more than another stream of data from which consumers must discern value and that Realtors should focus their energies on working with consumers to filter the good and bad data.

I am firmly of the second opinion. My belief is that the cow ran out of the barn a while ago when consumers began to use the internet as their first resource for buying or selling property. Going through the process of buying or selling a home, with the assistance of the internet, can be extremely overwhelming. With so much information to sift through it is analagous to trying to take a sip of water from a wide open firehose. The fact that publicly available data is now combined on one site with fancy alogrithms is something that consumers should know about.

So, is Zillow a sign of the Apocolypse for Realtors or just more data for consumers to filter through?

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Todd Waller Real Estate
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