At one time, an appraisal meant that an experienced evaluator would make a physical inspection of the home and compare it to other recently sold homes in the area.
But several years ago, a cheaper method of appraising, a computer generated automated valuation model (AVM), came into use. Since this technique lacks specific information on the condition of a home, it can produce a very inaccurate appraissal.
Zaio is a new company that works with appraisal firms all over the country that employ physical inspections for all the properties they evaluate. This should produce accurate appraisals that will be regularly updated as home prices change. The appraisal will be available, for a fee, to consumers online.
The service has launched in just two communities so far, Spokane, Washington and Mesa, Arizona, but Thomas Inserra, Zaio's founder, says he expects to have values for 70 million properties with the next 18 months.
The price of the service will run between $200 and $300 and the site will feature photos and information on each of the homes.