Zillow.com

Very cool site. I used it to see if I made the right choice when I choosing a house. I had a choice between a house that could easily afford and a house that I could barely afford but I would eventually grow into.

Thank goodness for deciding to live under my means. The Las Vegas housing market is interesting but the barely affordable house is actually worth less than the easily affordable house. Go figure.

Anyway, cool site. I backtracked across the United States to check out my old addresses (the ones that I could easily remember or look up the zipcodes).

Sweet! I am currently renting a house and I may have an option to buy it in a few months. It’s worth substantially less than I thought it was!

I was looking at that earlier today. It says my house is a 1 story, 2 unit house with 0 bedrooms when it’s a 2 story, 2 unit with 3 bedrooms. It also values it at over $200k less than the neighbor’s house. Our yard is bigger, we have more square footage, and more bedrooms. Weird. All of my old houses seem pretty accurate, though. That’s a neat little site.

It’s just another skynet trick to find John Connor.

Zillow was written up in the WSG a couple of weeks ago. It’s really revolutionary, it’s like expedia for real estate. Remember the early 90s, before expedia, travelocity, etc, started up? If you wanted to take a vacation to hawaii, you went to a travel agent and paid for their services. How many of you use travel agents now? Do you even know anyone who uses travel agencies? They’re as obsolete as stagecoaches. Zillow promises to do the same thing to real estate agents. Come 2008 or so, when they get the tech straightened out and zillow has a couple of competitors, we won’t have to pay 6% commission any more. Truly revolutionary.

Maybe when it works.

It says my house is worth $767,794, when I paid less than $200,000 a year ago. Also, my neighbors house which is slightly larger than mine has an estimate of $365.660.

That’s why I said 2008. It’s still in beta, it literally opened <2 weeks ago. It doesn’t have enough information to make an accurate estimate for much of the US. It uses tax assessments, sale history, comparable homes nearby, etc, to make its estimate.

So, it’s about 500% more rigorous in its estimates than actual agents? :-)

Pretty accurate data and price estimate for my place. Same for my parents place, and it even had an air photo of the neighborhood.

I couldn’t get it to work in Firefox though, and had to resort to IE. Anyone else have this problem?

Worked for me. I use Firefox 1.0.4 on Linux.

I’m using 1.0.4 on Windows. Grrrr, I’ve probably battened down some hatch somewhere that prevents it from working.

Bizarre. There aren’t alot of options to configure, but I can’t figure out what could be stopping it. Javascript seemed like the obvious cultprit, but I turned all that on.

[Edit]Aha! updating all my extensions fixed it.

It had some information about my townhouse wrong…but it was less than 1% off of the value of the townhome that sold right next to us in the late summer.

Well, considiring it probably had access to that sale value, that’s not surprising. Similarily, it had the value of my house pretty spot on at the time we bought it.

Wow, very cool site. I’m not convinced of the Internet Revolution – a house is a lot more significant investment than a trip to Hawaii – but this is a terrific tool, plus fun to play with as a homeowner. I’ve made a lot of imaginary internet money!

Me too! And gotten a gander at my imaginary internet inheritance.

The information on our house isn’t completely accurate, and the assessment is more than the county is using for tax purposes. But it does give me incentive to wash the siding to maintain the facade of wealth.

Troy

It’s not about the size of the investment, it’s about cutting out the middleman and putting information directly in the hands of the consumers. That’s incredibly valuable, if you’re savvy. Of course most people aren’t savvy.

Going through expedia, you lose the travel agent’s expertise and advice. A hotel may be rated highly, but will it house your pet poodle? Should you allot two days or three to tour the famous hanging gardens of clover city, iowa? This translates to real estate too-- the numbers aren’t everything. Real estate agents help you through financing, give advice on location and schools and whether you should buy a house with a pool or build your own, and so on. They guide you through the process. That guidances does have value. 6% of your $500,000 house, though… not that much value.

It’s also very cool to check selling prices and watch the brass balled sons of bitches flipping real estate in under 6 months for huge profits.

We had a great agent when we bought, and we’ll use her again if we ever sell. It was a long-distance, international buy and she made the entire process really easy. I’d happily pay her whatever her services demand.

And looking at those million dollar California homes that have their property taxes assessed at the 1978 level makes me completely understand why that state is so screwed up.

Troy

Yeah, real estate agents have expertise that I think it’ll be hard to replicate with an online service --even moreso if you’re using one to sell your house. They can guide you through the paperwork, work through red tape, work with inspectors and contractors, et cetera. A good realtor is also invaluable if you’re moving to a new area where you don’t know what’s a good area for you. Like any good salesperson, they’ll listen to your needs and make recommendations based on what they think will meet them. When we first moved to San Diego we ended up “firing” the first realtor we met with because she just didn’t listen to us and kept trying to put us in houses/areas that obviously weren’t right for us. The second one we worked with was great and found us the house we ended up buying.

The part of the process that I think realtors WILL drop out of, though, is the pricing, offering, and negotiation process. When all the information is free and made easy to consume by services like zillow, you don’t need them. And realtors don’t exactly have the same economic incentives as buyers or sellers do. They want buyers to buy anything in their price range --saving a little or finding a better house isn’t rewarded from their point of view. Even if you’re a seller the realtor will want you to sell for the first reasonable offer. The few extra hundred or even thousand dollars isn’t worth their time if they can knock your house out and move on to the next one.

I suspect that we’ll continue to need real estate agents for a couple of years at least. But once this catches on those 6% commissions are dead.

I’m surprised that we haven’t seen the option, on the sell-side, to go with per-hour pricing. $50-$100/hour, say (like an accountant, lawyer or other professional), plus direct expenses (i.e. advertising). On the upper-end of the market, this would be MUCH cheaper than 6% of the house price (or even 3%, assuming that you still pay the buyer’s agent 3%).

There are plenty of agents who’d happily work for $100/hour (even if they, in turn, split that 50/50 with the realtor company they work for), and in plenty of other business with a lot of money at stake, the agent gets no cut of the profit (i.e. corporate law, accounting).