Real-estate website Zillow lands $25 million
How much is knowing the value of your home worth? For Zillow's investors, the answer is $25 million. That's how much the real-estate website, which offers estimates of home prices displayed on neighborhood maps, has raised in its latest round of venture-capital financing. Zillow is giving real-estate agents the willies, writes Boston.com's Business Filter, because home-price estimates used to be something you could only get from an agent.

MortgageNewsDaily, however, contend that Zillow's estimates are often inaccurate. That said, Zillow also has abilities that far surpass anything you'd get from an agent. For instance, it can display a "heat map" of neighborhoods showing where homes are priciest, and its home values are now integrated into Yahoo's search results, so you can see home prices arrayed on a map in Yahoo's real-estate website. If you're in the market for a new home, you may still be better off getting a professional opinion from a real-estate agent, but at least Zillow will give you a better idea of where to start looking -- valuable information, now that real estate is turning into a buyer's market.
Posted by Owen Thomas 11:02 AM 12 Comments comment | Add a Comment

This is a great tool for the consumer. The real-estate agent should not hold comparable homes and information hostage for their 6%. The public should see their comparable sales and judge for themselves not by the select few a realtor gives them. Go Red Sox !!!!
Posted By Tom St. Petersburg, FL. : 11:56 AM  

I think its about time real estate agents got some real competition. With available info on comps and with zillow's zestimate and pricing methods, I think you can price your home right and save on the '6%' commission. Also, and I'm sure zillow takes it into account, with every sale of a comp in your neighborhood, their database improves and adjusts the zestimate for your home to more truly reflect the optimal sale price.
Posted By Andy, Seattle, WA : 12:03 PM  

As the owner of a mortgage company my ofice uses Zillow to value homes, however, most of the time the value they give is inaccurate. The true value is only found by recent comparable sales in the same area. Zillow as well as appraisers from out of any given area can never know the most recent sales until they get recorded with the municipality. However, local appraisers who are in the know and are in touch with their reffering mortgage brokers are aware of the most recent sales because they are getting all the orders in that area and the brokers let them know when the sale takes pleace. Thus Zillow has my own home as worth no more than $650,000 when I can get a sure $850,000 and the home can be appraised for over $900,000.
Posted By Suffern, NY : 12:24 PM  

If you want to know true value of a home you need to call a popular local appraiser that has ben busy over the last six months. Ask a mortgage broker who he recomends.
Posted By NY, NY : 12:26 PM  

Zillow significantly over-estimates the prices of the houses. I cross-checked a number of houses listed for sale on Yahoo and Craigslist and the estimates for those houses in Zillow are consistently over the asking price!!!
Posted By Tony, Minneapolis, MN : 12:38 PM  

As an appraiser for 34 years, I can access the local MLS, county records and my extensive file database to accurately value property. MLS posts settled sales within 3 days of the settlement. County records can take over 6 months to do this, as the sale must go through a recording process. Therefore, Zillow has very dated information, and does NOT inspect properties- therein lies their flaw. Rowhomes on one block in Philadelphia may have a price range over 200% in any one year- some are shells, some have a total rehab. Wihout a human involved in the current inspection process, Zillow's 'value' is very dubious. Would you rely on Zillow to buy a property out-of-state sight unseen? It may be used a intermediary tool, but should not make the final value determination. Only a fool or the ill-advised would base their hard earned dollars on such a thin analysis. How do I know this? I've matched 100's of Zillow's 'value' to the actual contract price of a property. Rarely is it close.
Posted By John, Newtown Square, PA : 12:48 PM  

Another problem with Zillow that you have to be careful about is that they quite often don't match up the correct house with the correct address. I have addressed them of this inaccuracy about my own house on a few occasions and they still haven't corrected it. So, what you see isn't always correct.
Posted By Alan - Oklahoma City, Oklahoma : 1:01 PM  

As an agent here in California, I use zillow myself, however, the only "neat" thing are the pictures. Zillow is attaching the data bases of the county recorders for their inofrmation, for comps.

As we all know, the county recorders are 6 to 9 months behind in recording home sales info., hence zillows info is extremely old. Hard to believe anyone would rely on such old information for making a homepurchase or sale decision. I advise all my clients of zillows inaccurate and old information.

Most all MLS's are updated almost immediately, once a home closes escrow, hence ONLY agents have access to the most up-to-date, accurate information available.

As far as "the willies"...zillow is hardly a threat and will be a late "dot-com" bust or perhaps the first one of the "busts" shaping up for the later part of this decade.
Posted By Larry, San Ramon, Ca. : 1:11 PM  

Zillow does offer useful information...provided you take their estimated values with a serious grain of salt. They consistently over-price properties to the extent that sellers become frustrated with any Realtor that gives them a lower valuation...even though the Realtor's comps are usually much more accurate and based on specific features within specific homes.

As with anything else, tools are only as good as the person that uses them properly.
Posted By Thomas Fay, West Hartford, CT : 1:16 PM  

I'm a Realtor in Dallas, Texas. I would suggest that you go to the Zillow web site & enter your own homes information and then tell me if they will be here in the future. My prediction is NO! There values are NOT EVEN CLOSE! I did it on a residence of mine that I sold about 6 months ago. Zillow estimated my house value at +-$256,000.00. I sold it for $290,000.00. As a Realtor, I'm glad they are in business because I estimate that 99% of their viewers will call a Realtor after they get over the initial shock of the value established by Zillow. Thank you Zillow!
Posted By Robert Scott, Dallas, Texas : 2:03 PM  

As an active buyer in the real estate market, I find zillow.com a valuable website. Its estimates of home values are often off base, but it provides you a good place to collect actual sales and property information in an easy manner. Zillow lets me do the research myself and use a discount broker to get a portion of the commission back.
Posted By Anil, Palo Alto, CA : 2:29 PM  

Zillow.com is way off. My home is selling for far less!
Posted By Gabe gilbert AZ : 2:30 PM  

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