Searching for elusive home value using Zillow

As new online consumer-oriented real estate sites emerge such as Zillow and Trulia, it is fascinating for me to watch how Realtors and consumers respond to this segment of our industry’s growth.  For years was the primary real estate site that consumers used outside of individual Brokerage sites such as

I’m a fan of transparency, which you already know if you’ve been reading this blog, so I’m excited that consumers have more resources.  However, along with new choices comes some confusion and growing pains.  Here’s a bit of clarification regarding some of Zillow’s data for my corner of the world – the San Mateo County coast including Half Moon Bay and nearby towns.

Zillow just posted Q1 results for 30 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA).  Look at the Quarterly Home Value Reports map to start.  Our San Mateo County Coastside area is included in San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont (called San Francisco Metro area).  For geographic reference, near us is San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara (called San Jose Metro area).  East Bay and North Bay communities are also included in the Bay Area’s general region.

Find San Francisco, CA on the list of cities on the left.  Zoom in a little and notice the colored icons near Moss Beach, Princeton By the Sea, and Half Moon Bay.  Note:  Montara is not on this map just a mile north of Moss Beach and Princeton By The Sea is also a neighborhood.  Princeton By the Sea is part of El Granada; Seal Cove is part of Moss Beach.







When you’re on the Zillow site, click on the green (the color refers to the amount of appreciation or depreciation) icon near Half Moon Bay to get this:

According to Zillow, the Half Moon Bay change is -5.2%.  The Zindex is $815,000.  Note:  this picture is of a recently sold – 3/11/08 – bank-owned house in the El Granada highlands – MLS # 768007 – for $615,000; not located in Half Moon Bay.  Zindex means median zestimate which is the current median price for a given Metropolitan Statistical Area, I think.

For a Big Picture tool, it’s not too far off…but as one would expect, not entirely accurate either.  They’re statistics – a tool… not the be-all-end-all of our homes’ value.  I’m looking for whether it’s in the ballpark.  Homeruns are only achieved with local expertise.

In my last post comparing Q1 2007 to Q1 2008 for Half Moon Bay see below.  Figures for El Granada, Moss Beach, and Montara are in the actual linked post.

Additional home value statistics are in my 2008 Coastside Report compiled in January 2008:  Coastside Market Report by Marian S. Bennett – January 2008