I received a nice little email from the people behind Zillow.
Drew at Zillow here. Since you are based in Boston, I just wanted to let you know that we just posted a heatmap of boston neighborhoods that you might find of interest. It gives some detail about how values have changed over the past year. Hope you have a good weekend.
Well, it was very kind of Drew to send me a note. He seems like a good guy.
But, in my opinion, as it stands now, Zillow’s information is incomplete and insufficient.
And, I want to point out a couple of things they wrote about in their most recent blog entry.
1) For some unknown reason, the author lumps Back Bay and Beacon Hill together into one neighborhood. They aren’t. They share approximate location, but little else. Yes, both are expensive, but they differ, in many ways.
2) The author says Boston is “the city where I grew up” – yet makes errors such as calling Boston “Beantown” (ugh, try calling San Francisco “Frisco” to a native, and see where it gets you), and calling the grassy area downtown the “Public Gardens” (sic). This just illustrates the fact that all real estate is local; you can’t count on someone far away to know enough about your neighborhood to help you make educated decisions.
The author makes a big mistake: Looking at our heat map you can see that from the red hot urban areas of Beacon Hill, Back Bay and Southie to the deep green Fenway – Kenmore area (Sox-related?), Boston is indeed showing its fall colors.
Nooooo! The “red hot urban area” you mention isn’t “Southie”, it’s the “South End”.
3) The author says, “What did surprise me a bit was the nearly 16% jump in the Zindex for Central Boston; which propelled that area from the eighth most expensive in Boston to the third …”, which is not very helpful information, since most people don’t know where “Central Boston” is. To Zillow, this includes the North End, West End, Waterfront, and Midtown neighborhoods.
This news wouldn’t be surprising to any real estate agent who lives and works in the city, since this area includes new developments such as the Grandview, Folio Boston (yes, there were closings there), and Lafayette Lofts, plus resales in Strada234 and the Ritz-Carlton Towers.
Zillow needs to work harder at providing helpful information to users.