14 03 2006

You may have heard of Zillow.com, a free home valuation tool created by Rich Barton (the founder and ex-CEO of Expedia.com) and his crew. Zillow is a beta site launched to a media frenzy with its free valuation data for 40-60 million homes, including a property’s sales history, comparable sales info, aerial views and basic data. While Zillow cannot possibly know the value of every home in America, it intelligently uses both the MLS as well as public data in determining market value and price range of any given homes. I test drive Zillow.com and found it to be ‘premature’ at this stage. For example, I ran a search on my home and the ‘Zestimator’ came back with an estimated value that is $30K below market. As Realtor, I have a pretty good idea of my home. What Zillow lack is the understanding of the nuances of the real estate industry. Provided that the service is free and Zillow has inadequate data that covers only certain parts of the country, there is much more work to be done for the site to become more accurate and reliable.

Do-it-yourself home inspections

14 03 2006

Today, 85 percent of homebuyers choose a home inspection compared to a mere 5 percent in the 1980s, according to the National Association of Home Inspectors. Inspectors typically charge $150 to $600 for their services, with the exact price calculated using an hourly rate or the home’s square footage. Although experts agree that inspections are important, some buyers are conducting inspections themselves to save money. Many use professional guidelines as spelled out on Web sites. Freddie Mac‘s “Consumer Home Inspection Kit” is available for free on its Web site, and America’s Doorstep offers a similar kit for $19.95. Buyers who choose to have a professional look over the home should select an inspector based on recommendations, qualifications, references and association membership.

Source: Copley News Service

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