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Posted by on Jan 10, 2017 in Advice |

First Impressions of Truila’s Instant Home Value Estimator

First Impressions of Truila’s Instant Home Value Estimator

See that big shiny button on Trulia’s homepage that says “What’s Your Home Worth?”  Curious at the prospect of seeing a quote for the value of your home almost instantaneously?  I was.  So, despite having no desire to sell much of anything, I decided to take the plunge.  Consider this my Captain’s Log.

Call me a born skeptic, but something about the idea of a system streamlining an elaborate, painstaking methodology that professional appraisers build their careers around smells like scented snake oil to me.  No, I’m not a Mennonite; I respect the growing power of The Matrix just as much as the next blogger.  But for every microwave or telegraph there’s at least 50 two-story outhouses, and I’m not one for standing in the middle of a turd storm without an umbrella.

To set the scene, the Instant Home Value Estimator isn’t exclusive to just Truila, or even real estate databases.  Zillow (packaged with the spiffy title “Zetimate”), ZipReality, Chase Mortgage, and even Citibank all have their own version of the program.  The idea is that by cross-referencing your provided property information with online records (public and private) and the values of comparable, nearby properties, your computer can pump out a fair estimate for your property’s value.  As a (supposed) bonus, most programs will use your email and phone number to get you in contact with a local realtor to walk you through the selling process.  They certainly don’t waste any time either; within two minutes of putting in my information, I received three phone calls from two different agents–after nine minutes I had nine calls from five agents.  Quick note: if you’re just browsing on any of these estimators, skip the phone number box if you can.

If you’re one of those fixer-upper types who takes pride in those new granite countertops and solid gold window trimmings you installed yourself, I’m afraid you’re going to be in for quite a shock.  While I won’t speak for other estimators (I can only take so many agents reaching out at one time), Trulia’s version has inputs for: your address, type of property (single-family home, multi-family, townhouse, or condo), number of beds, number of baths, and an input for your estimated move date (immediately, 1 to 6+ months, “Just Looking,” or “I Don’t Know”).  Oh, and let’s not forget your contact information at the bottom of the page (name, email, phone, none of which can be opted out of).

So…that’s it.  What, you were expecting something more?

Location has been first, second, and third foundation of a property’s market value.  That’s a given–it’s so vital that the very mention of it, no matter how absurd, transcends cliche.  But despite that, it’s still disheartening, even sickening, to see how the market (according to Trulia anyway) completely disregards basic quantitative data such as square footage–not to mention all of a property’s qualitative value.

To be fair though, determining qualitative value is much like looking at an abstract painting–its value is in the eye of the beholder.  And until the day Arnold Schwarzenegger flips the Skynet switch, computers thankfully will still be beyond true subjective judgement for the foreseeable future.  Real chimneys and marble floors still have their value–just don’t expect to see their worth in print until you get the opinion of credible, professional, human appraiser.

Having said that, if you’re a homeowner looking to increase the value of your property through renovation of some kind, keep in mind that not every buyer is going to look upon your upgrades as fondly as you do.  One man’s granite countertop is another man’s eyesore.  If you want to renovate, I’d recommend doing it because you want to enjoy the finished product for a time–not use it as a means to a marginally more lucrative end.

So sellers, don’t discourage over a low estimate from a computer software.  Look at it as a tool to give you a quick ballpark estimate, but if you want to enter the market immediately don’t mistake efficiency for accuracy.

Home Value


If you are truly looking for an accurate estimate of the value of your home Home Value offers a patented process to estimate the value of your home and has shown to be more accurate at estimating your homes value much beter than sites like Zillow or Trulia.

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