Technology

New online home valuations rely on real estate agents

Homing In's 'Exactimates' designed to generate seller leads

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A startup thinks it’s discovered a way to arm consumers with more accurate online home valuations by crowdsourcing them from real estate agents.

Homing In generates “Exactimates” by collecting information and photos on a property from a homeowner and then handing that content over to real estate agents who study it alongside property tax records and recent home sales data to produce valuations.

Homeowners who request an Exactimate receive up to five of these estimates from local real estate agents and have the option of contacting the agents who created them.

Todd Miller

Todd Miller

Homing In CEO Todd Miller says “Exactimates” mark a vast improvement over the typical consumer-facing online valuation model.

Home value estimators such as Zillow’s Zestimate rely mostly on public records that can be inaccurate or outdated, according to Miller.

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Property tax records can misrepresent a home’s size or number of rooms, for example, and they can’t capture a home’s condition. Moreover, the public data on home sales that many valuation models use to compare a home to others that have recently sold is typically at least a few months old.

Homing In’s valuations address these shortcomings in a number of ways.

First, they factor in qualitative data about a home submitted by a homeowner, such as photos and notes on its condition and features. Second, they use home sales data that’s more recent than what’s available to many other automated valuation models because the real estate agents creating Exactimates have access to that data through the multiple listing service. Finally, they benefit from a human touch.

Oh, and homeowners receive up to five of them.

Homeowners request estimates anonymously, but they can choose to contact real estate agents through the app if they want.

Is it worth spending the time to cook up a home valuation just for the chance of getting contacted by a person who may or may not be ready to sell?

Miller said software for real estate agents has made generating a home valuation a breeze.

“If an agent can’t do that in five minutes for a shot at a listing that might give them a $10,000 commission, then, you know, that’s just a lazy agent,” he said.

As Homing In collects more data, it’ll be able to show future users whether an agent tends to value homes higher or lower than peers, and by how much. That information could influence what agent a user might choose to contact through the app.

Homing In also plans to study how its estimates compare to Zestimates. It’s snapping screenshots of the Zestimate of every home that Homing In also values.

Email Teke Wiggin.