Zillow Talk

Online real estate porn gets a hot new toy with Zillow, out in the open now after a major cash infusion. Zillow offers free valuations and data for 60,000,000 plus homes and you can surf it in complete anonymity (no requests for annoying information or log ins thus far). Here’s what a random address search yields in Montclair — instant assessment and tax info. Check out the aerial view, where you can also spy whether your neighbor has a kinder, gentler tax bill than yours. Or see how you can use zillow’s nifty tools.


Zillow is poised to do more than crunch numbers, it seeks to empower by offering users the chance to generate their own comps. Then they offer this advice…

Click on the map view, then look at the home details for each individual home in your top 10 comps. Print the list of comps, and then do some detective work. Drive or walk by the comparable homes and take a look in person. Be a snoop: Drop by the neighborhood coffee shop or market and talk up that "sweet little thing that sold for a pretty penny." You’ll be surprised how much people know and how much they will tell you about a particular house and neighborhood.

Or, you could skip the coffee shop and just ask us. We’ll tell you. Zillow is not the only toy for real estate, says Buzzmachine’s Jeff Jarvis, who predicts that the site along with others will radically change the way real estate plays out. The New York Times profiles Zillow and Redfin and how the two sites have already begun to roil real estate agents royally. — Liz George

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  1. No comps available yet in New Jersey, as far as I can tell. Tax assessment values not really helpful in our market (example: my tax assessment value is $90K, but the market value is $475K+). Lots of blank data fields …

  2. I laughed when I read the assessed value of my house. We paid twice as much! Soooo, it doesn’t really do much for me…
    (And what are comps?)
    I did research friends’ houses in other states, and their assessed values are much closer to actual. What’s up with that?

  3. “Comps” short for comparatives. Actual “sold” prices from neighboring properties, I believe they also include more data from the MLS sell sheets.
    If the site is soliciting homeowners for their info to build the site’s database, how does the site verify that info?

  4. Stay tuned everyone. This is their first release, with appraisals only. As they pour in the other data they’re collecting, we’ll be able to see their comparables-based estimates of what our houses might sell for.

  5. I’d be curious to hear from readers who are real estate agents on their feelings about sites such as these. Do these sites provide a real service to home buyers/sellers? Or do they just feed the mania of the market? Anyone?

  6. It’s no different than when the MLS became open to the public through websites such as realtor.com … zillow.com just offers yet another layer of information the the smart buyer/seller’s arsenal … most people still need a realtor agent to negotiate the deal with buyer/seller and navigate all the paperwork and legal obligations … in fact, in many fast-moving markets such as here in NJ, public web sites can display inventory that has already been sold, whereas working with a real estate agent can give you more timely inventory listings via email links … if anything, realtors may see less initial contact due to zillow.com, but when someone spots a specific home to buy/sell, they’ll still usually reach out to a realty company to complete the deal …

  7. That’s a pretty cool site. In Montclair, the average assessed value is 45% of the current market value. That’s probably one of the reasons NJ has ordered the town to do a revaluation next year. Doing the math could give you a hint as to whether your taxes will go up, down or stay the same when the reassessments are done.

  8. Re: Zillow and Zestimate
    Feel free to venture onto my website (NJDreamHouses.com) (also just a click away on Baristanet.com’s real estate page Baldwin Team ad). Click on “Resources” on the pulldown menu, then on “Roberta’s Blog” for just one realtor’s thoughts about Zillow, filed yesterday. If you’d like to be on the e-newsletter mailing list, let me know.

  9. The New Jersey market fast moving?
    Who are you kidding? Sales have dropped double digits in November, December, and January. And before you go crying about seasonal adjustments, those drops are after being seasonally adjusted. February looks rather grim as well. Inventory is hitting record levels and nothing is moving. What happens when supply shoots through the roof and demand collapses? I’ll let you guess, but let me give you a hint. It doesn’t mean the market is “fast moving”.
    Buyers/Sellers need a realtor?
    Sorry, no. The process is neither time consuming, nor complicated. If the Reator/Agent doesn’t add value to the transaction, why bother? The last few years saw a real estate industry that didn’t need to do anything but sit back on their laurels and count commission money. That’s changing very quickly. Look for sellers to move to FBSO in order to preserve equity in a rapidly declining market.
    As far as Zestimates go?
    For now, they are worthless.
    Caveat Emptor!

  10. i am not sure i would call Zillow.com nor https://www.HomePricemaps.com DATA PORN, i mean aren’t we helping the consumer make better informed decisions, thus not relying upon the realtor as much, or at least giving the consumer the ability to know when his realtor is screwing him over?
    since when is THAT PORN????????????????????

  11. as far as i know zillow uses tax assessments to estimate the value of a home.
    I like to use http://www.HomePriceMaps.com because they show how much homes were SOLD for using the google mapping technology.
    also-if you don’t see HomePriceMaps for your area, simply email them your address and or zip and they’ll update the site within a day or two and send you a follow-up email.

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