Here’s another reason – albeit a weird, minor one – to feel good about reports that home sales and prices are on the rise: You might get a more accurate estimate of a home’s value from online tools such as Trulia or Zillow.
When you plug in an address, you might be more likely to get some good news.
Veteran real estate agents and other industry pros have explained over the years that price estimates are only as good as the comps, or recent, nearby comparable sales. During the downturn, there were precious few recent sales. And, in some cases, no nearby sales that were truly comparable.
That’s a tough environment for a veteran who knows the market street by street.
Zillow is an electronic gadget, not a professional.
But Zillow looks for comps, too. My layman’s logic says that as sales go up around you, the online tools ought to find more comparable sales and do a better job of estimating the value of your house.
Long-time Charlotte appraiser Will Granger says the theory makes sense to him.
Lots of pros disparage the online tools. They say the value estimates can be off by a little – or a lot.
But Granger said that Zillow has come fairly close to his appraisals the few times he’s compared the two. “I have run it ... I’d say it has come within 10 percent (of the true value), while I can get within 5 percent.”
Granger, like the rest of us, is feeling good about the news from the housing market.
Earlier this week, Standard and Poor’s Case-Shiller home price index showed that Charlotte home prices were up 5.1 percent in November compared to the same month a year earlier. Overall, the 20-city index rose 5.5 percent.
The Charlotte Regional Realtor Association reported that area home sales were up more than 23 percent in December over the same month the year prior. The average sale price was up nearly 8 percent. January’s sales report is due out late next week.
Like other pros who’ve commented on the hopeful housing news, Granger said he sees pockets where sales have taken off and other areas that remain in the doldrums.
Myers Park is busy, of course. Makes sense. That’s Charlotte’s signature high-end neighborhood.
But the busiest price range is not the very upper end, Granger said. “The busiest is, say, homes at $300,000, $400,000 or $500,000 ... In Myers Park, there is a lack of supply (at that price range). There is just not a lot to choose from. So when those folks put their homes on the market, they can get multiple offers.”
The same is true in other close-in neighborhoods, such as Barclay Downs near SouthPark.
Farther out, things can still be pretty slow.
After I chatted with Granger, I plugged our address into both Trulia and Zillow. The spread between the two estimates was $50,000. I’m guessing that one is too high and the other is too low.
Well, the housing rebound is just getting started – and I said it was a theory.