Zillow.com, a psuedo-appraisal website operating nationally, has been challenged by the state of Arizona on the grounds that Zillow does not have a state-licensed appraisal license. While unsuccessful at trying to get the website taken down, Arizona is apparently now going to try to challenge them in court. While I know that many in our industry have not been pleased by the prospect of long-distance property value estimates, this is the first I have heard of a state taking such action.
Consumers have made Zillow.com wildly successful in spite of the fact that there are glaring inaccuracies in the estimated values it publishes. Based on public records, the values are reflect past markets rather than present conditions. In addition, since the estimates are sight unseen of the subject homes themselves, variations of location, decoration and condition are subjective and supplied by the owners, obviously not an arms length objective evaluation.
While I'm all in favor of free market competition, it seems to me that national companies with no personal knowlege of local homes and conditions are diluting the perceived value of legitimate appraisals by qualified appraisers, or comparative market analyses by qualified local Realtors(R). Trying to sell listings that have been mis-valued prior to the listing due to inaccurate information found by the sellers on such websites, makes transactions more difficult.
Brian Schulman offers expert real estate representation for buyers and sellers of homes in Lancaster County, PA. To learn more, visit http://www.FindLancasterHomes.com/
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