One Step Closer to Transparency of Information

Some very exciting things are happening at Zillow. For those of you who read TrueGotham regularly, you know that I have given the team at Zillow both praise and criticism in the past. Today, more praise as they continue to improve their site and progress toward a more efficient and complete information portal that will also serve to improve the tools (like the Zestimator which I have criticized) that the site provides as well.

In addition to opening up the site for agents and owners to post property listings including descriptions and photos for free, they are also providing a new tool for the seller who simply wants to "test the market" by allowing them to set a "Make Me Move (MMM)" price that would motivate someone to move from their home only if they could sell for a specific price. This is a beautiful (and efficient) way of distinguishing the motivated sellers from those who aren’t so, and it still gives buyers and sellers more options and transparency in a currently inefficient marketplace. I’m becoming a believer in Zillow as they work toward fine tuning their products and cooperating with both the public and the real estate community to open the flood gates on information. I remain skeptical about the cooperation that they will receive from the real estate community as many don’t want to see this
type of information made public. That said, I happen to believe that future government regulations regarding disclosure of information to the public are going to favor Zillow.

Again, for the agents out there who think this won’t work, I suggest re-thinking the way in which you do business because the day is coming where most property information is going to be available in a public forum. Interpreting and navigating this information is going to be the primary task of the new generation of real estate professionals. Of course many already provide this service, but for those who rely solely on providing information to their buyers and/or sellers, the game is changing… and fast!

UPDATE: In playing with this more, I just uploaded a listing with photos, etc. In general the process was impressively user-friendly. But an error message prevented the listing from actually going public. And, much more importantly, the zestimate and comporable properties were so unbelievably innaccurate as to be entirely useless. (A $2 million three bedroom came up at a fraction of the size and cost.) So, while I think this is a great idea, there are clearly still some kinks to work out, at least in New York.

UPDATE: I got in touch with Zillow about the problems, and they have been super-responsive. Should be fixed soon.

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