Zillow Home Prices Remain a Joke for Austin TX

by Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX on May 26, 2009 · 18 comments

I just received this news flash via email from Zillow:

Home values in Austin increased 8.7%
According to the latest Zillow Real Estate Market Reports, home values in Austin increased 8.7% in the first quarter of 2009, compared to the first quarter of 2008. Nationally, home values decreased 14.2% during this same period.

Uh, sorry Zillow, but that ain’t right. The algorithms or data is being used to produce that conclusion need to be re-examined. Let’s look at some stats for Austin and surrounding areas.

Q1 2008 vs. Q1 2009
City of Austin Sales
Zillow says: Sales prices are up 8.7%
Austin MLS says: Sales prices are down 0.65%

City of Cedar Park
Zillow says: Sales prices are up 2.5%
Austin MLS says: Sales prices are down 3.9%

City of Pflugerville
Zillow says: Sales prices are up 11.5%
Austin MLS says: Sales prices are down 3.76%

You can see where this is heading. Never has it been easier for so many real estate consumers to be so misinformed about the real estate market. Don’t believe news headlines quoting any of these internet sites about values.

Shame on Zillow and these other valuation websites for getting it so wrong. What’s even sadder is that I saw in a listing the other day a Realtor comment “priced $20K below Zillow value”. Huh?

Good god, what have we come to? It’s bad enough we’ve always had bozo Realtors stating such rediculous comments such as “priced below tax appraised value”, as if tcad value was trustworthy or meaningful. Now they’re using Zillow as some sort of authoritative pricing guide, apparently ignorant of the fact that the Zillow value is a meaningless number to anyone who knows anything about real estate values. If it happens to be close, it’s just coincidence.

Just to be fair to Zillow, Texas is a non-disclosure state, meaning our MLS sales are not reported to the taxing authorities. States that do report actual sales values of all homes are states in which the Zillow price theoretically should be more accurate, since they have better data to work with. But Zillow nevertheless should know the shortcomings of its Texas numbers and double check before sending out news release announcements that are so grossly incorrect that the CEO should be embarrassed.

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The data relating to real estate for sale on this web site comes in part from the Austin/Central Texas Realty Information Service (ACTRIS).


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