Zillow joins with Tampa Tribune TBO Real Estate Site – Zillow Errors in Tampa Bay

    Hello Tampa –

    I read this week that Zillow and the Tribune companies have joined a partnership (article copied below from TBO.com).  I think that some of Zillow’s marketing and web features are very useful and interesting.  We make sure to post all of our listings on Zillow in Tampa because consumers are regularly on the site getting estimates of their home’s value.  However, what is disturbing is that so many people are buying into the idea that Zillow’s evaluation of the price of their property is always 100% right.  Its so regularly wrong that I tell customers to consider it a very very vague and basic baseline only.  Zestimate is an Estimate, not a guaranteed value.  Your home is not worth what Zillow says it is, its worth what someone will pay for it.

    Here are some scenarios that Zillow fails to take fully into consideration that have such a huge impact on the value of a home:  Incorrect Data, Features, condition, location variables (try telling me that a house on waterfront is worth comparable to a house right across the street that is not), Pools, additions, price variables between communities, etc.

    I was running comparables for a customer the other day that has a waterfront home.  The home across the street that was not waterfront showed a comparable value and price/SF on Zillow.  This was a clear error and one that sometimes can cause a pretty fierce conversation whent that customer sits down to talk to a professional about the sale of their home and believes a Zestimate is correct, when its far off.

    I think its important to understand that if you want to know the value of your most important asset, trust only a professional to evaluate it.  If you were trying to establish a stock portfolio of $500,000, you wouldn’t trust an instant computer generated analysis of a website that was free would you?  A computer cannot evaluate so many variables – and confirm all of the data on public record – to be considered accurate.  If the data is wrong, and in this area, it often is – the “Zestimate” will be way off too.

    4/1/09 from TBO.com

    The Tampa Tribune is among the first of some 180 newspapers launching co-branded real estate Web sites with Zillow, a Seattle-based online real estate listing site.

    The new sites will allow visitors to use Zillow’s search functionality to fine estimated home values, recently sold homes, homes for sale, open house listings and other local market data using a home address, neighborhood or locality. The sites also will provide access to Zillow’s real estate community content through Zillow Advice, as well as mortgage rates from Zillow Mortgage Marketplace.

    The co-branded Web sites are an extension of the Zillow Newspaper Consortium that was formed in November 2007 with 11 major newspaper publishers that allows newspaper sales teams to sell featured listings and advertising inventory on Zillow.com to local real estate advertisers. The consortium includes Media General Inc. (NYSE: MEG), the parent company of the Tribune.

    The April 1 launch of the 101 co-branded sites includes the Tribune and 100 papers from Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. Other newspapers, including those owned by Media General, are expected to be launched later this year.

    Expedia founders Rich Barton and Lloyd Frink formed Zillow in 2005, creating one of the most-visited American-based real estate Web sites with more than 8 million uniques each month. It has raised $87 million in funding since its inception.

    Media General, based in Richmond, Va., is trying to get itself through a rough patch. The company announced a significant work force reduction Monday, which included the elimination of 65 jobs at the Tribune, WFLA-Channel 8 and TBO.com.

    Media General reported a loss of $631.9 million, or $28.57 per share, in 2008, fueled primarily from a non-cash goodwill impairment of $908.7 million, a turnaround from the $10.7 million, or 41 cents per share gain, the media company earned the year before. Revenues were down 11 percent year-over-year from $898.8 million in 2007 to $800 million last year.

    Media General shares were trading at $1.86 as of 10 a.m. Wednesday, down 3 percent from its Tuesday close of $1.92. They have traded as high as $27.18 over the past year.