“Unzillowable” – The Perfect Term

August 18, 2006

sellsiusrealestate has coined the perfect phrase “unzillowable” in a 14 August blog posting. The phrase describes positive and negative factors that simply can’t be captured in a distant document-based appraisal system such as Zillow.  Such factors as: (complete list available at the link)

Traffic noise
Neighbors – Best or Worst? – Do they party a lot? Are they loud or obnoxious? Are they kind, quiet and considerate?
Neighbor’s property – Do they have junk everywhere? Do they never maintain their landscaping, property or their house? Are they meticulous?
Neighbor’s pets – Barking dogs? Exotic animals?
Unique Day & Night Features – Street lights & signs shining through the bedroom windows at night. Daytime construction.
Water Issues – Basement floods only when it’s a real heavy rain.

To be clear, I’m not a real estate agent (I just play one on .tv <grin>). However, as an avid real estate investor, I’ll surmise that, if only for the ability to factor intangibles in real estate pricing, good agents are and will continue to be an important part of the real estate sales process as we move from web 2.0, to web 3.0 to likely web n.0. their role may change a bit but the job of agents will not be going the way of typesetters anytime soon. Amazon ended up increasing the interest in books, email and online sales boosted revenues for the post office, and we’ll likely see interest in distant housing boosted by the recent changes in web real estate. My view is that zillow simply introduces yet another data point into the consideration for a given property and that’s not a bad thing. 

When I think as a technologist of the requirements, we’d need to be able to scale a system to capture the intangible factors for all US based housing.  The inputs for prices would not only require access to existing documents and ata but also would require a large, distributed system of …well…. human agents that could perform the intangible analysis in a consistent manner and make the necessary inputs. Though from a process perspective valuation can appear inefficient and subjective at times, the reality is that the price that someone is willing to pay can be equally subjective and inefficient.  But for the moment, agents are performing these tasks all over the country and the system doesn’t seem too broken as a result.

Side point: my own house is definitely unzillowable but because of factors that add to the property’s value that my neighbors generally don’t have (one of 3 low bank with beach vs medium bank waterfront properties, water all day in front of the house vs mud when the Pacific tide goes out, the view from the end of a point vs at the start of the bay, etc.).  I discussed the lameness of the online valuation system in a blog post last April (scroll near the end).  The term “unzillowable” is truly descriptive of my home’s value and I absolutely love the term. Oh, if I’d had only had it last April….. 

The sellsius blog has a number of compelling articles on Zillow and other topics. It is definitely worth a read.

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  1. You’ve just coined a term I will be sure to use in the future… As in “I’m working to build a web n.0 project”. 🙂

  2. Your real life example of an unzillowable house may be surprisingly widespread, so much so that the exception may belie the rule. Unless someone visits your home will these intangibles that distinguish yours, and make it more valuable, from your neighbors be noticed (and appreciated).

    Because of this post I just now wonder: If people start with zillow, they may bypass looking at your house if your listing price is above the zestimate (for zillow will not point out your unzillowables). Unfair to you and your unzillowable home?
    Thank you for spreading the word.

  3. […] I read this post on For Sale By Locals blog and I wondered: […]

  4. Dustin: thanks for stopping by. The raincityguide.com site is a Seattle staple and I am a frequent visitor. As for n.0, it’s a throwback to my Windows division days at MS where (almost) everything was framed in terms of n – n numbers of user, etc. Take care…

  5. Joseph: Thanks for the comment, the digg, and the trackback. I’m blessed to have two of my favorite bloggers post comments today. Fortunately, I won’t be selling my home anytime soon – just an example before I had heard the term “unzillowable” on your site. Given the continued price rises of oceanfront property in the Seattle area, I’m not going to worry too much about the Zestimate yet. Thanks again for stopping by.

  6. Hey there was surfing through the internet and found your page on google . Enjoyed the good read wanted to say Happy New Year and keep up the good work.

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