Matrix Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Zillow’

Carnival Of Real Estate Is In Full Swing

July 25, 2006 | 12:01 am | Public |

[Matrix is hosting the Carnival of Real Estate on September 25, 2006. Its a great way to read some great posts on real estate topics of the day and not get sick on cotton candy.]

What is a carnival?

Here’s a great carnival Q & A. Its basically a a bunch of blogs that take turns displaying the favorite posts of the group each week. Carnivals can vary by topics and of course and the most relevant to Matrix readers is the Carnival of Real Estate.

This week’s host: Seachlight Crusade is presenting the best posts of the group this week.

Next week’s host: The Future of Real Estate Marketing who also has a great blog.

Carnival of Real Estate


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Determining Accurate Values Are Only Human

March 17, 2006 | 8:45 pm |

In Inman’s two part article Zillow enters crowded space and Real estate values need human interpretation the articles conclude:

The challenge with relying on computers to establish value is the difference between stagnant data that exists in a database and knowledge that relies on human experience and complex thought processes. In the book “Social Life of Information,” John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid make exactly this point. A computer relies on information. When it comes to real estate, this means the property’s features, including bedroom-bath count, lot size and floor plan. Even when two properties have identical floor plans, one may sell for more because of the beautiful landscaping, the privacy, or some other factor the computer cannot access. The value of these features is often more intuitive rather than quantitative. As such, computers may estimate values, but the estimates will continue to be flawed because there is no scientific way to value these other factors.

In other words, appraisers are needed to bridge the gap between raw data and subtle nuances within a property or market that are not picked up in the data.

Phew!


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Real Estate’s Technology Boom Goes Beta

February 13, 2006 | 12:02 am | |

Real estate technology has come of age, aided by the housing boom combined the American obsession with real estate ans technology. The ability to find and match properties with consumers, to research and investigate properties are among the most logical extensions of new web technologies.

New web sites such as Trulia and Zillow are launched, have deep pockets, yet remain in beta, probably to difuse criticism of the vast promises they seem to be making to the consumer (and may fullfill those promises within a few years if they can last that long). Zillow provides property values and Trulia provides listings with very easy to follow interfaces.

Real estate blogs have evolved into the goto daily resources with a slew of ever changing real estate related topics. The king of real estate blogs, [Curbed]((http://www.curbed.com) who has been around just about the longest, is going national with localized market coverage areas. Curbed started out in New York, and has expanded to Los Angeles with about a half dozen other major markets coming down the pike. Big Media has begun to join the blog fray but is at a disadvantage since they cannot have the same edge to them that independent bloggers have. The New York Times blog The Walk-Through and Businessweek’s Hot Properties are among the best of them.

Craigslist, with its primitive interface, has proved that you don’t have to be pretty to be effective, has cost classified advertisers millions of dollars and continues to grow.

Earlier forays into online real estate services such as Realtor.com and Realestate.com remain oldschool and seem stuck in cluttered screen cram-down that overwhelms consumers with irrelevant information.

This whole technology movement is exciting and the possibilities are endless, as soon as we get out of Beta.

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Rhymes With Pillow: Zillow.com Takes A Breather

February 9, 2006 | 12:30 am | |

At a party recently, I had the chance to meet Richard Barton, the founder of Zillow and he mentioned he was starting up a real estate site. He was a nice, very low key guy who happen to be one of the founders of Expedia.com, which turned the travel industry on its ear. His new site, Zillow got everyone’s attention and no one knew what it was – until yesterday. Inman spent a lot of effort peaking our curiousity and I got a lot of calls from people in the industry asking what the heck it does.

Wednesday was launch day. I read four articles this morning about the site and got excited to check it out for myself when I got into work. The NY Observer article was especially good. In fact I read it on my Treo as I commuted in to work.

As far as the media coverage goes, I find it interesting that technical tools like this are often painted as spelling the end of full service brokerage services. I find this point hard to accept. I think that tools like Zillow and others are a natural evolution of technology and special services like this offer something that full service brokers cannot provide and really aren’t in business to provide. I think its kind of like the iPod. Apple builds them but third parties build all the add-on accessories.

The result of these tools is a more efficient market because of the additional flow of information. Its also raises the bar for full service brokers to have staff that are more fully informed about the market. There is opportunity to interpret information. Over this next year or so, the number of transactions is likely to drop and many brokers who have relied on being order takers will now have to actually market. Those that always marketed in boom times, should have nothing to worry about.

Since the Zillow involves valuation, and I am an appraiser, I was especially curious because its such a daunting effort to automate valuation on such a large scale. In fact, for the most part, the lending industry has been trying to do this for the past 5 years with limited success (If you base success on accuracy rather than simply pushing paper for the files to keep the regulators happy). A few months ago, a national lender told me that out of the 10 major automated valuation services (AVM’s), 8 were totally unreliable, 1 was marginal and 1 was pretty good. This lays the groundwork for my initial skepticism about Zillow, but I am open minded. I think it will evolve and will have more strength in certain markets than others depending on the data they are fed.

Well, apparently, the public relations juggernaut the emerged over the past few weeks with the build up, overwhelmed the site early in the day and as of 11:51pm tonight they are still of the air. I found their ZillowBlog which explained the problem and put a human spin on it. They should definitely link the blog to their home page to keep a dialog of their technical progress.

For those who were lucky enough to get access, the reviews were pretty good but basically mixed (after all this is a beta and there is a lot more data for them to tap into.) Of course the “red light theory” seems to apply here. Users will likely only remember the valuations that were not accurate and not those that were.

I anxiously await my turn. I am sure this is going to be fun. More to come.

_As seen from their web site_


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