What if you a created a new website, and everyone came?

It’d break down, within hours of starting it up.

That’s what happened earlier this week, with the brand-spanking-new website, Zillow.com.

It’s up, now.

I’ve taken a spin through the website, and found it somewhat useful. I think it gave me a fair assessment of what my own home is worth (but I think it’s way off on the unit, just two floors above, with the same layout).

I’m not sure whether it would work better or worse for single-family homes. There’s less density, so less product to use to make value comparisons.

What is Zillow?

Zillow.com is an online real estate service dedicated to helping you get an edge in real estate by providing you with valuable tools and information.

It empowers consumers by giving them access to the same kinds of information and tools agents use. It equip consumers with information about their most important investment — their home.

How does it do this?

Sellers:

Use home valuation tools to arrive at the right selling price

1. Zestimateâ„¢ – Enter your address to get an idea of what your home is worth.
2. My Zestimatorâ„¢ – Use this 5-step tool to further refine the estimated market value of your home.
3. Comps – Review comps of nearby homes to arrive at a fair selling price. See what your agent sees.

Buyers:

Compare home values to avoid overpaying

1. Maps – Scope out neighborhoods of interest and look at home values
2. Comps – Review recently sold homes to get a sense of neighborhood trends
3. Zestimate – Compare the homes estimated value to the asking price. Take the Zestimate with you to open houses.

3. See what your agent sees.

Owners:

Track the value of your most important asset

1. Zestimate – Look at the current estimated market value and other data about your home.
2. My Zestimator – Update changes you’ve made to your home to arrive at a revised value.
3. Zindexâ„¢- Find out how your home stacks up compared to others in your ZIP code.

My take:

So far, it’s of limited use. Great to use if you’re going the FSBO route.

I assume more products will be rolled out, over the coming months, and that Zillow won’t be focused on the sellers’ side, as much. I presume the company plans on having listings on their site, either FSBOs, or, in states where they can, MLS listings. And/or a third source – real estate agents.

The question for a buyer is, do you have time to visit all of these news sites – Zillow, Trulia, craigslist, FSBO, Isoldmyhouse.com, etc.? Do you want your agent to do it? Your agent has been going to one source – MLS. In that way, MLS is a good thing. Having one single source is good because it can be maintained and monitored.

In the new paradigm, how does a seller make sure he/she is hitting all the websites? Updating all the FSBO websites, will require a lot more time, on the part of the seller. Does the average seller want to take all that time? Will the seller hire an agent, on a flat-fee basis, to enter and maintain listings on all the websites?

Buyers might not benefit, from the creation of all these new property sales websites – it’s more difficult and time-consuming to check out all the listings – how can you be sure you’re not missing a listing? Plus, FSBO sellers aren’t necessarily that great – if you like buying a used-car from some stranger you meet on the street, then you’ll probably be okay buying a home from someone you just met. If you use a real estate agent, however, there is at least a procedure for dealing with any unforeseen problems.

Review of Zillow.com: A New Website For Real Estate Voyeurs – by Walter S. Mossberg and Katherine Boehret, The Real Estate Journal

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Updated: January 2018

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