Received this email yesterday:
Now I often get the occasional email or comment from a raving fan. More often than that I get an email or comment from a raving nut case. But I don’t think JB is a nut case. I think JB is simply confused, and perhaps ignorant of Zillow, AVMs in general and certainly my opinion of both. I can’t speak for Greg Swann — who also was intended to receive this email — though I suspect he’d say roughly what I’m about to, perhaps with some Latin thrown in the mix. (Updated: See Greg’s take here.)
Before I go further — and to quash any potential nut case who wants to chastise me for posting a personal email with someone’s email address — please be advised that I asked JB if I could respond to his email on the blog. He emailed me back and said, “Sure, why not?”.
Indulge me for a moment while I respond to JB…
Dear JB –
Yes, I am a real estate agent. I wouldn’t necessarily say that I’m “supportive” of Zillow. I simply do not fear Zillow, and have actually found it a useful tool, especially in listing presentations when a seller says, “But what about what Zillow says my home is worth?”
What the AZ Board of Appraisals is trying to do to Zillow (chiefly, shut it down) is patently absurd. Zillow does not offer appraisals. And they (unlike some other AVMs) even say that on their site (granted, it should be more prominently displayed).
No, I can’t see that Zillow is trying to “drive agents out of business”. Zillow offers estimates of home values. Real estate agents do significantly more than that. Zillow (or any piece of software) would have a difficult time showing a home, explaining a contract, setting up an escrow account, negotiating price, terms, and conditions of sale, or just about anything else a good agent does.
Furthermore, you can’t compare buying a home to buying a plane ticket. All I care about when I buy a plane ticket is getting from Point A to Point B when I want to, as cheaply as possible. And chunks of code are very good as sifting through data and finding me just that.
A home is something just a tad bit more personal than an airline ticket. People tend to want to see a house they plan on living in (yeah yeah, I’ve sold a few homes to investors sight unseen, but that’s an exception). I have no idea exactly why, but people also want to go through their potential home and flush toilets, flip light switches and open kitchen drawers. It’s hard to do that kind of stuff through a modem.
For the record, I do not have a “Zillow.com ROCKS!” sign on my car. Heck, I don’t even have a Zillow t-shirt (though if I *did* have one, I’d wear it… *cough* *hint* *wink*). I only have two website related items displayed on my car…
Finally, I may indeed be full of hot air at times (I’m not about to link to all of those posts!). And I do find that as I age, I need to hold reading material further and further away. Why just the other night at our anniversary dinner, I told my lovely bride that I was concerned that my arms were soon not going to be long enough to allow me to read. None of this of course is the fault of Zillow. It just is what it is.
Pretty much like Zillow. It just is what it is.
Hopefully that clears things up a little JB… Thanks for emailing!
[tags]Zillow, disintermediation, Arizona Board of Appraisal[/tags]