East Bay Buzz – Mobile

Are Zillow’s Home Price Estimates Accurate?

zillow-pixEvery month millions of people look to Zillow to tell them the market value of their homes. Then when it comes time to sell their property, these same homeowners approach their local realtors with their Zillow estimates (Zestimate) in hand. Their expectations are high that the stated price will be the selling value. Excited home sellers get upset if their agent can’t obtain an offer at least as high as the Zillow Zestimate.

Home buyers are equally concerned about making an offer higher than the stated Zestimate. An offer above Zillow’s price is perceived as paying too much.

So the question is, “How accurate is the Zestimate?” It’s important to recognize that a real estate purchase is more complicated than buying an airline ticket online. The price of a home is determined by many factors, such as the number of bedrooms and the square footage to name two. Many intangible factors affect the price as well including: the condition of the home, location, architectural details, school district, how many offers are being made and how the home purchase will be financed. Can Zillow really take into consideration all this factors? The short answer is: No, it never intended to.

When Zillow launched its site in 2006, the concept was to bring the once exclusive information, available only to real estate agents, to the general public. In some ways Zillow has succeeded. Information, such as home sales prices, is now readily available to anyone with a cellphone.

While Zillow can provide good baseline information it’s not meant to replace real estate agents who have first-hand knowledge of a property and an understanding of local market dynamics. In a recent interview with “CBS This Morning”, Zillow’s CEO Spencer Rascoff stated that the Zesimate should be used as a starting point in determining a home’s value. His statement reflects that fact Zillow’s business model is advertising based, not home sales-based.

As for Zillow’s accuracy, the LA Times recently reported that Zestimates are off by an average of 8% nationwide. In specific markets the numbers vary widely. The LA Times reports in Manhattan the error rate is 19.9%, in rural California the rate can be off as much as 26%, and in the San Francisco Bay Area the error rate is 11.6%.

What does that mean in dollars? In the San Francisco area where the median home price is  $1,000,800, the 11.6% Zillow error rate translates into $116,093. With the sale of home, that can mean a lot of money is left on the table. One Bay Area real estate agent referred to the Zillow Zestimate as more of a Zguestimate.

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Bottom line: Zillow Zestimates are a starting point to determine a home’s market value. It can give you a ballpark sense of what’s going on in your area, but seek out a professional realtor when you’re ready to buy or sell a home. They can help you avoid the Zillow error rate and get you the best deal.

The Oakland Bucket List: 35 Things You Must Do Before You Die

If you thought you’ve done it all in Oakland you should check out this list put together by thrillist.com. It includes 35 amazing experiences in Oakland you should try at least once. The list includes:

#1 See a show at the Fox Theater
#2 Watch an A’s game in section 149
#3 Make a toast to the past at Heinhold’s
#4 Take a gondola cruise on Lake Merritt
#5 Visit Fairyland
#6 Lounge in a love seat at the Parkway Theater
#7 Visit the Alley and sing your heart out with Rod Dibble on the piano.
#8 Take a romantic stroll in the Morcom Rose Garden
#9 Sleep under the stars at the Chabot Space and Science Center
#10 Have a tailgate party with the Raider Nation

For the rest of the list go to: https://www.thrillist.com/lifestyle/san-francisco/oakland/35-things-you-need-to-do-in-oakland-before-you-die-bucket-list

App for Home Improvement Nerds

In any home improvement project, there’s always lots to measure and calculate. Even for the simplest projects, it can get complicated fast. How much paint do I need to cover the walls of a 14’ x 14’ room with seven-foot ceilings, three large windows and two doors?

The usual solution is a zen like experience, you visualize the painted room and wait for an answer from the almighty. Of course then there are questions even God can’t figure, How much concrete do I need to fill six post holes? How many boxes of floor laminate do I need to cover my basement?

Now, there’s a great app for home improvement nerds who like to get it right the first time, the app is called Home Calcs. You plug in the appropriate dimensions of your project, it tells you how much material to buy.

The app provides even more information, if you enter the cost of materials, it’ll tell you the total cost of your project. It’ll even calculate the time to complete your improvement, that’s something most contractors can’t figure out.

Home Calcs is available in the Apple app store under home improvements and costs $1.99.