Thursday, October 1, 2009

What Numbers To Believe

I get all kinds of emails, from a variety of real estate sites, and I use most of them to formulate how the Alameda real estate market is performing. Many of the websites have great information and data and some well I hit the delete button.

The one website that continues to confuses me is Zillow. They have become extremely popular for the common person to track the value of their home. Reporter now use Zillow for all kinds of stories from the value of a house that suffered fire damage to mortgage data. I have always used Zillow's data as a guide but never fact and this is why.

In their most recent email they wrote that the median home price in Alameda is $625,000. The first issue I have is the time period they are talking about. I can only guess they mean September 2009. But the month was not over and my early numbers put the median around $568,000; that is a 9 percent difference. The last time the Island saw $625,000 or more median home price was April of 2008. The median only exceed $600K one month in 2009, April.

I guess my beef with Zillow is the home valuation, they always seem to be way off. Either high or low, because their secret formula does not account for local factors. The computer does not value physical, economic or social boundaries that can increase or decrease a property.

If you are bit of a numbers geek when it come to real estate Zillow has a more data than most sites.

Zillow does have a bunch of nifty and one of my favorite's is charts Homes Sold For A Loss. I guess that they use outstanding mortgage balances and compare them to the sale price. According to Zillow nearly 26 percent of homeowners sold at a loss for the month July. This stat does not seem out of line given the declining home values.

The take away is use any website as a guide, even 94501 Real Estate, because the market is fluid and the numbers change. The best opinon is the one you formulate from a collection of information. As Mark Twain wrote in his Autobiography:

"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and

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