Monday, October 09, 2006

A quick, fun way to get property comparables online

There are a number of ways to get comparables for a property that you are working a deal on without having to get an appraisal.  The most common is probably to either get them from a Realtor, or search the MLS.  But there may be times where you get an unexpected call from a seller and you want to quickly get an idea of the realistic values of the houses in the prospect neighborhood so you can begin to form your negotiation strategy.

I have been using the online services at to provide this information in just these situations. Zillow is a website that allows you to enter an address and then search for the property and return an estimated value.  But what is so cool about this service is that you get an actual aerial photograph of the house and the surrounding neighborhood, and you can click on any house to view the estimated value and pull up a list of comparables for that house. It’s amazing how accurate it is!

When you click on any of the houses on the map you will see a popup that will show you the estimated value, the last sale date and sale amount, the number of beds and baths, and the square footage.  Then you also have an option to click a link and view all of the comparable properties.  And when you click on the view comparables link, a list of all the comparable properties is displayed with all of the information you need to be able to accurately determine a fair market value.

In many cases this is a much better tool for finding comps because you can randomly select houses on the map to determine values rather than blindly search the MLS database looking for comparables.  I have had trouble in the past using the MLS and found that the Zillow results were much more accurate, and provided me the flexibility to perform a quick analysis on a property in just a few seconds.

Check it out.  It’s actually kind of fun to play with too.