Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Heard it all before - Brad Inman, Inman Blog

About Zillow having a complaint filed against them with the FTC, Brad Inman, founder of HomeGain writes the following in the Inman blog:

Zillow gets zinged, surprise, surprise. When HomeGain launched its home valuation tool in 1999, most consumers loved us but many hated us. We were estimating the value of an expensive and emotional asset: peoples' homes.
The service also scared Realtors, brokers and appraisers. It was new. Even new fashions make people mildly nervous, but new technology can send a sharp icy cold shiver up the spines of established companies.
The appraisers were particularly irked -- even though they had quietly become our power users ­ and a few of them went to state regulators to stop us. Two states came after me personally, threatening severe penalties. At the time, I said: "Bring it on, I cannot wait to stand on the courthouse steps and say that I will willingly go to jail for giving the public, public information."
-- Bradley Inman, Inman News

Yes, there are some similarities, but the differences are attitude and presentation.
You have always been one to challenge the industry to be better. They appear to be trying to "cripple" it, with a smile.
You presented your info for what it was, these guys claim that their info is more than it really is. You're assertive and aggressive, they are arrogant and sneaky. That the difference, and I've heard it all before, too! See my post Chicken and Real Estate. Maybe it's all about PR? Maybe not. Time will tell. md


David G from said...

Hi Michael, it's David from Zillow.

I am sorry that you feel this way. You've made some brutal accusations here and you misunderstand Zillow. It's difficult not to take this post personally. If you'd like to discuss your opinions of Zillow further, please e-mail me -- I'd love the opportunity to set the record straight with you.

On, we disclose the accuracy of Zestimates and our confidence in them in more detail than any other similar service does (to my knowledge - and I've looked at a bunch of 'em). Likewise, Zillow provides owners with tools to update and publish complete and corrected facts about their house and recalculate and publish estimates. No other similar service offers these features whereby owners (and their Realtors) can publicly set the records straight.

I miss Boston Market myself. Now that was good chicken and your post was fascinating but your argument is entirely redundant. You misunderstand the fact that Zillow agrees with you and to quote from your post; "NO ONE should be making a buy or sell decision based SOLELY on Zillow information." Zillow is a research tool -- Zestimates are "an" opinion of value -- they're mathematically calculated without any physical inspection of the property. Zestimates shouldn't be your only data source when making a real estate decision. We have never said that the Zestimate is the price a house should be listed at -- or purchased for -- it may be but that's for a local expert to determine.

I'm happy to discuss the Zillow business model with you as it seems much of your criticism arises from suspicion about our (perceived) future plans. Let me just reiterate though that it is not our intention to compete with Realtors.

Please seriously consider my offer to discuss your criticisms of Zillow.

Kind Regards,

Michael Daly said...

Thank you for your response. All you write may be true, but the perception that has been created by Zillow's entry into the market is not reflective of your words, and as we all know, perception IS reality.

When you launched your much heralded website, you had my own home "zestimated" at $400,000 under it's current value. You also had a listing of mine "zestimated" at $4,000,000 under its listing price. Great way to begin a business relationship, David.

You all asked for feedback. I sent in emails suggesting that you take your "zestimate" component off the site until you get a grip on this market and even offered to discuss issues in this $4.5 Billion per year market - no response. Months later all local "zestimates" in the market mysteriously increase 30-40% (in a down market). Magic!

We all have responsibility for the "message" we put out to our clients and customers. My post reflects my interpretation of what Zillow's message has been. Yes, some professionals and businesses are misunderstood. That a business problem. If Zillow is being misunderstood, then you all have the job of correcting the misperception.

You don't need to talk to me, although I'm sure you are a gentlemen and we would probably enjoy the chat. Show me!
Demonstrate to me and others whom you have put on the defensive, what your business model is and how it can be a benefit to the millions of people whom make their living from the real estate industry and the hundreds of millions of people who buy and sell real estate as part of the biggest investment in their lives.

Anonymous said...

Michael- the so-called "value" of a house is what the market will pay for it. So assigning some arbitrary number to the "value" of your house or one of your listings is specious, at best. If your listing hasn't sold yet, perhaps that's a telling sign that your perception of "value" is not accurate. I think it is so funny that people cling to this delusional sense of paper worth despite what the numbers are saying in the true market, i.e., what homes are selling for. But if it helps you sleep at night, godspeed...

David from Zillow- Rock on! You provide a tremendously helpful/valuable service for the general public- the public that has been successfully (up to this point anyway) deprived of easy access to vital real estate data by the corrupt real estate industry. Obviously Michael's rant is nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction to fear. He knows (whether he is willing do admit it or not) that the writing is on the wall for real estate "professionals." Now that they no longer have the monopoly on consolidated real estate sales data, they will soon go the way of stock traders and travel agents. And their equally corrupt buddies in the appraisal business will also soon go the way of the typing pool. Hopefully this will be the beginning of a more sane, transparent, honest way of buying/selling a home. You are a trailblazer and a maverick. Thanks again, and don't let the petty naysayers get you down.

Anonymous said...

It does seem foolish to think that a computer can tell the value of a home as the price is set between the buyer and seller usually with the imput of a realtor.

HomeGain provides estimates based on comparables but provides a range. Zillow in contrast uses much of the same public data but claims their "zesitmates" are accurate!

In any event please read why HomeGain Beats Zillow below: