The palatial Surlywood estate now carries a Zestimate of $93,730, which might even be reasonable. (I’ve been saying that somewhere in the middle 90s was plausible, more or less ever since they came up with the startling sum of $117,695 back in the summer, a figure which, I felt, couldn’t possibly be justified.)
Not that I’m particularly upset; it’s just a number, and I’m not planning to sell anyway. Others might take umbrage, and some actually have: the National Community Reinvestment Coalition has filed a complaint about Zillow.com with the Federal Trade Commission. Says NCRC:
Washington, DC October 26, 2006 Today, the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) filed a consumer protection complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleging Internet financial services and real estate provider Zillow.com is misleading consumers, real estate professionals and financial service providers in on-line home valuations.
According to NCRC, Zillow.com who represents to offer unbiased valuations to over 67 million homes across the country knowingly uses an automated valuation model (AVM) that is highly inaccurate and misleading.
“Zillow is placing the American dream of homeownership at risk for countless working families,” says John Taylor, NCRC President and CEO. “For a company that represents to consumers that they are the ‘Kelley Blue Book of Homes,’ this is a very dangerous situation. We call upon the FTC to intervene and ensure that Americans receive accurate appraisals and valuation information to protect the single most important investment of their lives: their home.”
Curbed.com’s San Francisco blog finds this a trifle amusing:
It’s an interesting dilemma. Zillow exists to bring real estate information to the consumer. It’s also an entertainment site (baby, are you still zillowing? Come to bed…) Are dishonest appraisers … using the notoriously (hilariously, even) unreliable Zestimates to cheat black, immigrant and unsophisticated homeowners?
I dunno. I’ve never met any dishonest appraisers, but obviously this doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. I suspect, though, that more people are using Zillow as a get-a-load-of-this site than as an actual valuation oracle. Certainly I’ve done my part to encourage this sort of thing.