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What just happened to Zillow?

By DennisN follow DennisN   2011 Jun 13, 10:51am 5,090 views   14 comments   watch   nsfw   quote   share    


Just for fun I have a list of about a dozen houses I track on Zillow. These belong to people I know so I can (1) razz them and (2) know what kind of condition they are in.

Today I went to check the list and prices moved all over the place! My own house went from $155K to $173K, yet Zillow said this was a - $1,500 30-day change. A guy I know in LA's house went from $643K to $514K, yet Zillow said this was a -$11,600 30-day change (he pulled out a $715K HELOC in 2007). A guy I know in Denver's house went from $540K to $452K, yet Zillow said this was a +$700 30-day change.

Did Zillow just massively change their algorithm without making any announcement?

1   thomas.wong1986   ignore (3)   2011 Jun 13, 11:21am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

DennisN says

Did Zillow just massively change their algorithm without making any announcement

Never trust some crazy algorithm.

You should read up on LCM ... caused a near global financial meltdown.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long-Term_Capital_Management

LTCM was founded in 1994 by John Meriwether, the former vice-chairman and head of bond trading at Salomon Brothers. Board of directors members included Myron Scholes and Robert C. Merton, who shared the 1997 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.[3] Initially enormously successful with annualized returns of over 40% (after fees) in its first years, in 1998 it lost $4.6 billion in less than four months following the Russian financial crisis and became a prominent example of the risk potential in the hedge fund industry. The fund was closed in early 2000.

2   thomas.wong1986   ignore (3)   2011 Jun 13, 11:22am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

cab says

Zillow will surely fix their system.

and once again, and again, and again ......

3   DennisN   ignore (1)   2011 Jun 13, 11:27am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

We've all made fun of Zillow over the years, but at least they were consistent. Their zestimates changed very slowly over time. Today's changes are much more drastic. And some go up: others do down.

4   Done!   ignore (5)   2011 Jun 13, 11:31am     ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag      

Zillow gave says my house lost 3500, yet it is valued 20K what they said it was worth last week.

Though Trulia says my neighborhood lost 12K last month.

Either way, I'm still holding value for what I bought and where I bought.
One of the perks have a big house with a big lot in a neighborhood of small cottages and small lots. There aren't any comparable.

5   swebb   ignore (2)   2011 Jun 13, 1:11pm     ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag      

Tenouncetrout says

One of the perks have a big house with a big lot in a neighborhood of small cottages and small lots. There aren’t any comparable.

rationalization?

The advice I have always heard was to buy a small house in a "big" neighborhood, rather than a big house in a "small" neighborhood.

6   EightBall   ignore (1)   2011 Jun 13, 11:41pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

All of the incorrect information was removed from my property page. I guess that is an improvement since it was showing for sale for the past nine months when it wasn't for sale.

Zillow increased my zestimate by 20k but shows that it decreased 2k in the past 30 days ... ? The "range" that they put it in is huge - a 200k swath. What's up with that?

My next door neighbors house (which is about the same sqft) adjusted down and mine went up and they are now about comparable according to zillow (as I would think it should be...).

7   elliemae   ignore (0)   2011 Jun 14, 12:46am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Nomograph says

You sound like a real asshole. I’ll bet you don’t have many friends, do you?

elliemae's an asshole too - I've followed a few houses, not to razz the people, but to see where the zestimates were. I actually did this for 3 years, it was interesting. And a couple of my friends had me on their list.

But the cool thing is, according to zillow, I'm now $90k richer in phantom wealth even tho it says there's a $12k increase. It's interesting, considering that there's a shitty repo around the corner that zestimates at $311k, but is for sale at $120k with no lookers.

8   Done!   ignore (5)   2011 Jun 14, 1:40am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

swebb says

rationalization?

The advice I have always heard was to buy a small house in a “big” neighborhood, rather than a big house in a “small” neighborhood.

I go by the reality of what is happening, not "What they say"
"They" say a lot, don't they?

9   Katy Perry   ignore (2)   2011 Jun 14, 1:44am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

I'm a recovering A hole. I track the house I rent, and other friends houses. It's part of the, " maybe I can learn something from this info over the years" idea I have. one friends just went from $300k to $396k. That Has GOT to feel good!

10   klarek   ignore (3)   2011 Jun 14, 2:11am     ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag      

Nomograph says

You sound like a real asshole. I’ll bet you don’t have many friends, do you?

You should really consider changing your behavior; following other people’s finances so you can “razz them” is a recipe for a lonely and unhappy life.

Another unsolicited, sanctimonious sermon from Nomo. The only thing you're missing is your trademark "stop listening to AM radio" line.

11   DennisN   ignore (1)   2011 Jun 14, 2:25am     ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag      

Zillow has now issued a press release about changes to their system.

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/zillow-expands-and-improves-database-of-homes-123827414.html

Real estate information marketplace Zillow® today expanded and improved its living database of homes, adding more than 25 million new Zestimate® home valuations and improving Zestimate accuracy nationwide.

12   elliemae   ignore (0)   2011 Jun 15, 12:37am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

klarek says

Another unsolicited, sanctimonious sermon from Nomo

I like Nomo, and consider him to be one of the best internet friends I"ve never met nor actually had a conversation with. I'm just an asshole friend, is all. I imagine that, if we ever met, we'd have a lot in common.
Katy Perry says

I’m a recovering A hole. I track the house I rent, and other friends houses. It’s part of the, ” maybe I can learn something from this info over the years” idea I have. one friends just went from $300k to $396k. That Has GOT to feel good!

Is there, like, a recovery program I can attend? You know, where we all support each other? If I feel the need to go on Zillow and check some random person's phantom equity, I can call you and we'll go get drunk together?

A 12-step program means only 12 steps from the bar to the car. ;)

13   klarek   ignore (3)   2011 Jun 15, 3:57am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

elliemae says

I like Nomo

I don't necessarily disagree with the root of his criticism, but I don't think I'm alone in saying that his sanctimonious b.s. is nauseating.

elliemae says

I imagine that, if we ever met, we’d have a lot in common.

I'm sure that, as he's done with everybody else, he's made concrete presumptions about what you're like IRL.

14   corntrollio   ignore (1)   2011 Jun 21, 6:11am     ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag      

DennisN says

illow has now issued a press release about changes to their system.

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/zillow-expands-and-improves-database-of-homes-123827414.html

I believe the key point is this one, by the way:

In the past five years, Zillow users have submitted information on more than 28 million homes, adding updates, such as remodel or home fact information, that are not reflected in public records. This gives Zillow an inimitable database of nearly every home in the country, and creates unique home profiles that allow Zillow to calculate more accurate Zestimates on more homes. The new Zestimate algorithms launched today incorporate more of this user-submitted data, among other changes.

The remodel data makes a huge difference. If the value of your house goes up because your neighbor adds 1000 sqft to their house, that means their house isn't a comp for yours any more, and it further means that their house going for a higher price doesn't mean the market has improved, or the rest of the neighborhood will go for a higher price. Tax records take time to be updated. Incorporating these factors should make Zillow's data more reliable, although I still wouldn't depend on it.


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