Richard Mize: Zillow.com's ‘Zestimates' could use some zeasoning

Zillow has tweaked the way it comes up with its Zestimates for more than 97 million of the houses it tracks. Most changes in value were 10 percent or less. Zillow said that a few more Zestimates went down than went up.
by Richard Mize Published: July 16, 2011
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Pretend the period at the end of this sentence is a grain of salt. Now, take it with you the next time you go to Zillow.com.

In February, Zillow, the real estate website that provides “Zestimates” of home values, zestimated that my house in Edmond was worth $159,000, a couple thousand dollars more than the last time I looked a couple of years ago.

The slight uptick was no real surprise. It's in a pretty-well-kept 1980s neighborhood that has pretty much ridden out the national housing bust — and the Oklahoma City-area house surplus and hand-wringing — with no serious damage other than just a few more rentals than it used to have.

So far, so good, right?

Maybe not.

Now, Zillow zestimates that my house is worth $150,050 — that's a 5.3 percent drop since February. Gulp.

What gives? Or, rather, what taketh away?

Why, Zillow itself.

Zillow, you zee, has tweaked the way it comes up with its Zestimates for more than 97 million of the houses it tracks. Most changes in value were 10 percent or less. Zillow said that a few more Zestimates went down than went up — lucky me.

Some of the declines were dramatic, especially by Oklahoma home price standards. The Wall Street Journal reported $100,000 drop in a Zestimate in Phoenix and quoted one Zillow user's exZasperated comment on the Zillow website: “Why did our home drop $300,000 in one year?”

It makes the $8,950 drop in my home's Zestimate zeem like zmall potatoez.

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by Richard Mize
Real Estate Editor
Real estate editor Richard Mize has edited The Oklahoman's weekly residential real estate section and covered housing, commercial real estate, construction, development, finance and related business since 1999. From 1989 to 1999, he worked...
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