Posts Tagged Real estate

How Good is Zillow?

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We like the Zillow site at Townsend Appraisals.  It has some good charts for seeing how the market is doing. It has a lot of houses listed and their prices both current and recent past. School districts are listed, taxes on sales, contacts with agents, lots of information. The Bird’s Eye view below shows a recent listing.

Zillow Values

Zillow Maps

One of the common uses of  Zillow is to provide an estimate of the value for your property.    Of course we are left with the question. How good is the estimate?

In a recent article in The Appraisal Journal, a monthly publication  by the Appraisal Institute, that question was explored.   The article, ” Zillow’s Estimates of Single-Family Housing Values” by  Danile R Hollas, PhD, Ronald C. Rutherford, PhD, and Thomas A Thomson, PhD explored the issue.   The article compared the actual sale values of 2045 single family properties sold in Arlington, Texas with the sale values.  It was done at a time when the market there was stable, and  where Zillow indicated it data has the highest accuracy rating. So how did Zillow do?

Zillow generally overestimated the values.  In over 40% of the  properties, the over estimate exceeded 10% of the value and only .88% of the property values were underestimated by 10% or more.    We think this is good to know.  We wonder how many homeowners have already checked out Zillow’s estimate of value before we see their homes.   If they have, it looks like they may think we are appraising their properties too low.

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Market Turn Around in Rodeo?

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We have been appraising in Rodeo since Nancy first got started in the appraisal business more than 22 years ago.   Rodeo is a particularly dynamic market and very sensitive to the overall forces affecting real estate.  Accordingly, during the up years it rose quickly and  in autumn of 2006, it sank like a stone.

The chart at the right gives you an idea of what I am talking about.  It starts  at the beginning of 2006.  I have plotted the dollars per square foot of  gross living area  of the houses  in Old Rodeo as it changed with time.  The all-time high of $400/sq ft  occurred around mid-summer in 2006 and began to drop rapidly  in the fall.  It continued to plunge downward until around August 2009, where it settled at around $125/sq ft. That was a 69% drop in value! At this point in time we  see the market start to pick up.

Almost all the local sales are foreclosures or short sales. In 2009, there were 67 sales,  50 of which were foreclosures (REOs) and 7 of which were short sales.

Home prices are being set by these distressed sales and this may continue for some time. Nevertheless, it looks like at this point we may have hit bottom as far as prices go.  It may be a good time to buy!

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Appraisal Consulting in Northern California

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Appraisal Consulting in Contra Costa County, CA and Alameda County, CAAppraisal consulting is useful in a variety of situations. Before putting their home on the market, some clients wish to have an idea of what is a fair market value for their home. There are also clients who wish to know what they can do to maximize the value of their homes before selling them. We can tell you what makes a difference in property value so you can get the most “bang for your buck” when you are considering different improvements for your home. We can also estimate diminution in value for your property, if this should occur.  For example, if your neighbor’s tree grows and blocks your view, we can estimate the loss in value to your property.
Another situation in which clients seek appraisal consulting is in order to have an accurate record of their property’s square footage, as county records frequently do not accurately reflect the correct size and room count of a dwelling.

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Better Service Through Limited Areas!

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Contra Costa County FHA Appraiser - Alameda County California State Certified AppraiserHow we’re different: At Townsend Appraisals, we limit our market area to Contra Costa and Alameda Counties.  This enhances the quality of our appraisals and the level of trust that our clients experience.  We have 36+ years of combined appraisal experience.  Combined with commitment to be active in the appraisal community through speaking at Appraisal Institute conferences and other volunteer activities, we stay aware of the latest market trends, and have a network of skilled and competent professionals.

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The Story of Townsend Appraisals

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TOWNSEND APPRAISALS: Contra Costa County, CA and Alameda County, CAThe Story of Townsend Appraisals starts in 1986.  Nancy began appraising when interest rates started to drop after they had been at historical highs for a number of years.  She was mentored for five years by Donna Neff, an experienced appraiser in Orinda.  In 1991, she started her own business.  To optimize her competence and skills as an appraiser, she obtained her SRA designation from the Appraisal Institute in 1993. She is a certified expert witness in Contra Costa and Alameda County Superior Courts, as well as in Alameda Bankruptcy Court.  Her husband Peter joined her in 2001, having previously worked for over twenty years as a manager in metallurgical engineering.  His analytical mind has been a great contribution to Townsend Appraisals.

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What is a real estate appraiser?

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A common misconception is that real estate appraisers and real estate agents do the same thing.  Actually, our training and our function is very different.  Appraisers estimate the value of property.  Agents sell property.  Appraisers have much stricter licensing requirements.  Appraisers must have a minimum of 2000 hours of supervision by a mentor (2500 for a certified level which we have), at least 30 months of acceptable experience, successfully complete a number of increasingly sophisticated courses, and pass a rigorous licensing exam.  The continuing education requirements for appraisers are much more rigorous as well, than they are for agents.

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