Got my first “issue” of ZILLOW BUZZ this morning. Or actually an email announcing that ZILLOW BUZZ is coming.

ZILLOW really is exciting news…I’m not being sarcastic when I say that. We need a “shot in the arm” in this business.

That being said, I would like to say something about how real agents really value property. I read the “about us” notation on the ZILLOW BUZZ email and it showed how one of the partners had used spreadsheets to value his property. I just saw an elaborate spreadheet done by an owner at “The Newmark” in a downtown Seattle condo. Boy was it elaborate, and boy was it wrong. No way that condo is worth what that excel spreadsheet says it is worth.

The way we value property is on a comparison basis. The more we see the better we can value. That is why we go to Broker’s Opens (at least those of us who aren’t just looking for a free lunch šŸ™‚

We have a mental running calculation in our brains. It goes like this. John’s listing last month sold for $700,000 and it was on the best view corner of the building, remodeled and up on the 21st floor. Better window configuration. Crappy cabinets, but otherwise a great remodel. The wall was knocked out around the kitchen. Penelope’s listing down stairs on the 9th floor had the best unobstructable view, but was 600 square feet smaller. Poor presentation. Owner left his clothes all over the place and it smelled like sweat. Original condition, no remodel and had a “handicapped” bathroom that gave it that “hospital” feel. That one sold for $400,000, but it was a pre-foreclosure with the owner under the gun. So I can list this one at $550,000. It is between the 9th and 21st floors. It is remodeled as to aesthetics, but no walls knocked out. It’s really worth $500,000, but I think I can squeeze an extra $25,000 out of it because it’s “the only game in town” at the moment.

I don’t think a computer can do that. Robbie, can you do a Vulcan Mind Meld? LOL.

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ARDELL is a Managing Broker with Better Properties METRO King County. ARDELL was named one of the Most Influential Real Estate Bloggers in the U.S. by Inman News and has 33+ years experience in Real Estate up and down both Coasts, representing both buyers and sellers of homes in Seattle and on The Eastside. email: ardelld@gmail.com cell: 206-910-1000

22 thoughts on “ZILLOW BUZZ

  1. That sounds good. Looks like there a lot of those little evaluations of different items “on scale from 1 to 10” in agent’s property value calculation šŸ™‚ This should be doable, of course the more options are taken to considerations the better, but I don’t think all of those details (like “hospital feel” and “sweat smell”) gonna be on the property profile.
    Even though.. would be really nice to come up with more accurate calculator then Zillow has. Here is a hint for Zillow – put a disclaimer that price can vary from xxx.xx to xxxxxx.xx depends on how bad the property stinks šŸ˜‰

  2. Max, I just updated the text… You’re comment is right along the lines of something I’ve been thinking about. I really need to add a “preview” option… I’ll look into it!

    For now, I use the spell check that is part of the google toolbar. The spell check is a simply (but very useful) tool that works on just about any entry form on the web. To use it, you simply type your comment and then click on the button that says “ABC Check”. The best part is that you can add words to the dictionary, so things like MLS only need to be corrected once!

  3. I dunno, what does my evaluation tool say (not that I expect mine will be any better). Zillow’s tools seem to be spoiled by old, incomplete or bad data (I suspect when they have nationwide MLS data with public records, Zestimates will get much better).

    My tool is just stupid and only uses active MLS listings to come up with a number . šŸ™‚

    I’m sure computers will get better at estimates as Moore’s Law marches on and the engineers at Zillow get their hands on more correct & current data and convert “agent knowledge” into source code.

    After all, have you beaten a computer at chess lately? I know I’m 0 for 20 years right now, and the future doesn’t look good either. šŸ™‚ It may take them 10 years or more to get it right, but I think it’ll get there.

  4. Thanks Dustin. I actually have Gtoolbar and I use the spellcheck, but since I’m switching between the browsers all the time (I use the toolbar in Firefox) – I forget to use it sometimes.

    As for the property valuation – have anyone tried Top Producer’s CMA reports? I’ve seen how it works, but I never actually looked into accuracy of the software.

  5. Top Producer had a major problem with their software not being compatible with NWMLS for a long time, so Lightning was used as the primary. The new 7i Top Producer was created to fix that problem. But neither of these is as good as Coldwell Banker’s original program from back in the early 90s.

    Now that’s a project I could totally create with Robbie or Galen and that you can sell to the country without mls permission. Someone really needs to create a better CMA tool. I do mine myself and they are super duper! Better than Top Producer or any other product out there. In fact, part of mine became Coldwell Banker’s after I showed them how…should have gotten a copyright and royalties on that. Oh well.

  6. ARDELL, do you know if CENTURY 21 has something like Coldwell Banker’s CMA tool? Since Cendant own both of them I would expect it to be somewhat reciprocal.. I am actually full time employed with CENTURY 21 office in Myrtle Beach, SC as Internet Marketing specialist.

  7. When I started in Real Estate we had no software to do a CMA. We used to copy the properties out of the mls book and cut them into little squares and paste them onto pages (with rubber cement) marked ACTIVE, PENDING, EXPIRED and SOLD. That was back when Coldwell Banker was owned by Sears and we had Sears Mortgage Company.

    The first ever computer software to do a CMA was a program called “Harold & Co.”, if memory serves me right. It didn’t last long as I think they were bought out by Top Producer. I was one of the first agents to use Top Producer back when it was a DOS program and I swore by it for many years. This was back when most agents would not touch a computer except when they HAD to. I often ran properties for the older folks who were lost without their mls books and refused to touch a computer.

    Then Coldwell Banker had Top Producer write an Office Version that could be used by multiple agents (I think I’m up to 1996 here).

    I believe, to this day, that most Cendant Companies, including CB, C-21 and ERA all use Top Producer, but only if the mls is compatible. When Top Producer 6i version wasn’t compatible on the West Coast, they used Lightning, put out by a Company named IRIS. When I called there it sounded like a bunch of kids running around.

    So it has more to do with who the Board of Realtors and MLS recommend in each little section of the world, than the company you work for from time to time. Our mls system produces a CMA without the aid of additional software, and many agents use that exclusively.

  8. I added a “preview” option for comments, but it is still a work in progress… For some reason, the default install of the plugin wants to add the preview text on top of my header photo (i.e. the photo that says “Rain City Guide”) completely defeating the purpose of previewing a comment. Anyway, I can’t seem to drill down deep enough into the plugin to get rid of this without losing the header image on my main site! AHH! What a pain!

    Anyway, for now, I’ve completely turned off any formatting for the preview option which means the preview form looks pretty sparse. But at least it lets you preview what you about about to publish which can be especially useful if you are linking within the comments! If it is giving anyone a problem, definitely let me know!

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