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

Selling of Catholic church properties is a sign of the times

Real Estate Corner: What you need to know about financing before you buy a home

The New Hampshire Jewish Federation building on Beech Street in Manchester.

Jewish Federation looking to sell Manchester headquarters

Developer proposes housing project in Hackett Hiil section eyed for technology park

Idea of High Street hotel floated in Nashua

Home & Garden

Susan Dromey Heeter's Down to Earth: There's fun to be had in cleaning up after a tough winter

READER COMMENTS: 0

The end of snow brings the start of yard cleanup.

Affordable housing fund gives developers options

READER COMMENTS: 0

Salem selectmen have approved a trust fund to help establish additional affordable senior housing units in town.

Bedford planning board to hold Wayfarer property site walk

READER COMMENTS: 0

The planning board will conduct a site walk relating to the redevelopment of the Wayfarer property at 121 S. River Road.

Keith Archambault, service manager at Nashua Outdoor Power, gets a lawn tractor ready for summer.

Spring will be here eventually, so don't wait for the last minute to prep your power equipment

READER COMMENTS: 0

Spring will be here eventually, so avoid the rush to get your lawn equipment ready.

Nancy Caswell of Jaffrey looks out over the landscape in her back yard where birds and beasts flock. Caswell‚s property has become a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.

Your yard could be a certified wildlife habitat

READER COMMENTS: 0

From the balconies of city apartment buildings to the rolling fields of family farms, residents throughout New Hampshire have created wildlife habitats, and for their efforts they have been given a...

Old House and Barn Expo attendees enjoy the expo last year..

Merging modern tastes, historic homes can take an expert's help

READER COMMENTS: 0

The New Hampshire Preservation Alliance, in preparing for its March 15-16 Old House & Barn Expo, checked with some key sources to explore what's trending and what's classic.

Alicia Spence, of the Timber Framers Guild, uses a hollow chisel mortiser while Bob Spoerl, right, and fellow Guild member Joel McCarty, backround right, work on frame joints with chisels to demonstrate the craft of building a timber frame using historic techniques. The Timber Framers Guild was an exhibitor at last year'ss Old House and Barn Expo at the Center of NH in Manchester.

Showcasing traditional arts at the NH Old House & Barn Expo

READER COMMENTS: 0

In New Hampshire, people have a great appreciation for history and traditional arts. Many communities are home to artisans dedicated to preserving traditional ways of doing things and making things.

Salem senior housing development taking shape

READER COMMENTS: 0

Construction on the Braemoor Commons senior housing development is underway and is getting high marks from some Planning Board members.

Jonathan Gibson shows a visitor the lathe dating from 1885 that he uses to create unique and reproduction pewter ware in his Hillsborough shop. Gibson's father started the shop, and when he was ready to retire, “I jumped out of the real estate business and into this and I've been here ever since,” he said.

Jonathan Gibson's craft goes back centuries

READER COMMENTS: 0

Hillsborough pewterer continues an age-old craft.

On Beam Day, family and friends of Dave Adams got together to hoist into place the two new 400-pound beams the crew had been preparing for weeks. Left, Jim Russo and Brendon Garrett are on the staging; Jeff Wheeler is standing inside the Portsmouth house on the first floor while Eric Heitmann adds more braces to the staging.

Restoring Portsmouth home takes craft and vision

READER COMMENTS: 0

Dave Adams and his wife, Debby, were only in their 20s when they bought the old house at 210 Gates St. in the South End in 1974.