Welcome guest, you have 2 views left. | Register | Sign In
 Contests
 Readers' Choice
 Movie times
 Property Transfers
 Auctions
 Restaurant reviews
action:article | category:NEWS13 | adString:NEWS13 | zoneID:7

Home » News » Avenues

AVENUES PARTNERS:
NH homes for sale

Search MLS

Courtesy of


Type:
Residential
Condominium
Multi Family
Land
Mobile Home
Commercial
Rentals

Towns & cities:
Price:
Low:   $
High:   $
Villages:

Locate open houses

Search By MLS #

Classifieds


 ♦ REAL ESTATE
 ♦ APARTMENTS
 ♦ HOME SERVICES
 ♦ MERCHANDISE

Click to place free online ad for items valued under $500.

Opinion

January 10. 2014 3:09PM

Estimates

Websites can only estimate a home's value


A home for sale is seen in Union City, Calif., Aug. 16, 2011. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group/MCT)

You're likely to get a warm fuzzy feeling if you look at what your home is worth on Zillow, Trulia or any of the other real estate sites that provide values for millions of houses. Home prices have risen rapidly, and the value these sites assign to your home is sure to reflect that.

But don't get carried away by a single Zestimate, SmartZip quote or Trulia estimate. While they are fine for spotting trends, these home valuation services come with a caveat: They offer rough approximations by computer programs. If you want a more precise estimate, hire an appraiser, talk to a real estate agent or check around your neighborhood and see what homes are selling for.

The sites all use what's called “automated valuation models,” or AVMs, to make sense of mountains of data, typically drawn from recent sales, property history, size and number of rooms, market trends and other factors that influence price.

“Depending on their methodologies, the values are going to necessarily be pretty wide,” said Gary Painter, director of research at the University of Southern California's Lusk Center for Real Estate. “They basically are trying to provide an estimate for every property in a geographic zone. The data modeling requirements are far too great to do what they are claiming to do.”

But while not reliable for determining the precise value of a particular home, the services “do a decent job of capturing the overall trends in prices, which gives you a sense of how your particular house fits in a neighborhood,” Painter said.

Real estate agents used to hate online valuation sites — and many still do — because they can give a buyer or seller false expectations about price. But some real estate professionals have come around to viewing them as useful tools.

“I actually find value in those estimates and advise my clients to look at them,” said Linnette Edwards, an agent with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate in Piedmont, Calif. “I also caution them that frequently the numbers can be incorrect. It's just an algorithm.”

Edwards believes Zillow's Zestimate undervalues her own property by $100,000. “But as a buyer looking to purchase a property, there is a lot of insight that can be drawn from these Zestimates.”

Appraisers are cautious if not skeptical about the services: Sandy Bass of AA Action Appraisal in Sunnyvale, Calif., and Silicon Valley chairwoman for the Appraisal Institute, said she's sometimes asked by a homeowner if she uses Zillow. “I always say, 'No, I don't because it's sometimes incorrect.'”

To illustrate her point, she checked the Zillow, Trulia and ZipRealty values on a home in Santa Clara, Calif., that sold in late October for $601,000. Zillow said it was worth $615,000, Trulia said $743,000 and ZipRealty said $629,000.

Zillow provides values for 100 million homes in the United States. ZipRealty provides what it calls a SmartZip estimate. It also provides estimates from Zillow and Eppraisal.com. And it has an “interactive pricing tool” that you can use to build your own estimate.

“One of the reasons we show three different values on our estimates page has to do with the nature of AVMs,” said Jamie Wilson, ZipRealty's vice president of technology. “The AVM is just an automated valuation model for any given home. Because it's automated, it's really subject to whatever the details are that make up that model. When we started digging, we found some models might be accurate in certain areas and others might not be as accurate. “

A recent search with SmartZip on a 3-bedroom home in San Jose, Calif., produced these widely varying estimates — $568,000 from Eppraisal.com, $740,000 from Zillow, $760,000 from Trulia and $699,000 from ZipRealty.

These figures are averages of high and low estimates, which helps explain the variation. Zillow and ZipRealty had almost the same high-end estimates, but ZipRealty's low-end estimate was $91,000 less than Zillow's.

Zillow, the online website that pioneered free home valuations for consumers, refreshes its data on 100 million homes three times a week, using “hundreds” of different models, said Katie Curnutte, director of communications for Zillow.

“We provide a value range,” she said “The house will sell somewhere in that value range, depending on the condition. It is a starting point; it's not an appraisal. We can't go into a hundred million houses every week and check them out. We don't know if you added a bedroom or remodeled a kitchen, or you're letting the roof go.”




Real Estate

This large office building along the Daniel Webster Highway in Merrimack could soon be converted into 21 apartment units.

Apartments proposed for under-used office space in Merrimack

Most growers cultivate their mushrooms on logs. Some species of wood are better hosts than others.

Backyard cultivation is mushrooming

Land in Windham marked for economic revitalization zones

Car Talk: LEDs are not a significant battery drain

MATTHEW JOHNSON

Real Estate Corner: Fail to disclose property conditions at your own risk

Home & Garden

Lilac photo winners announced

READER COMMENTS: 0

The Governor's Lilac & Wildflower Commission has announced the winners of the 19th annual Lilac Photo Contest.

A bench in memory of Katie Bentley.

Hotel and lilacs proposed for Hackett Hill site

READER COMMENTS: 0

John Bentley plans to plant more than 300 types of lilacs as part of a proposed botanical garden/festival venue/commercial development on Hackett Hill Road in Hooksett, creating a monument to the...

Keeping guinea hens around the yard provides protection, meat and eggs.

Yardsmart: Guinea hens a natural – and noisy – defense against ticks

READER COMMENTS: 0

This is the beauty of a bird that is still half wild, maintaining its self-sufficient instincts while prowling your yard and garden for ticks on ground, deadwood, shrubs and trees.

A three-story building at Hooksett's Carrington Farms condominium complex remains vacant, five months after snow caused the roof to collapse.

Long wait frustrates Hooksett condo owners

READER COMMENTS: 0

Five months after accumulated snow collapsed the roof and drove them from their homes, owners of a Hooksett condominium building found out that they won’t likely be returning anytime soon.

The owners of Tiffany Gardens, located at 15 King John Drive in Londonderry, will open their gardens to the public this weekend as part of The Garden Conservancy's Open Days program, a series of self-guided garden tours across the nation.

Open Days features two NH gardens

READER COMMENTS: 0

Two New Hampshire gardens are scheduled to be open for visitors this weekend in the Garden Conservancy's Open Days program.

House, garden tour on July 15 in Wolfeboro

READER COMMENTS: 0

The 28th annual central New Hampshire VNA and Hospice Home and Garden tour is Wednesday, July 15, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.