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HomeGain launched a brand new automated valuation tool last week, it’s calling its Instant Home Valuation Tool. According to their press release, it’s “the descendant of the original instant Home Valuation Tool that HomeGain created over seven years ago.”

I’m not sure what the old Instant Home Valuation Tool did, but the new one is a fairly decent effort. Biggest plus, it returns your result very quickly. The database is positively snappy, making for a nice experience.

Overall however, I find the overall design kind of uninsipired (not a big fan of the red and green) and I can’t help but think the value range it returns (rather than a number) is kind of a cop out. A $40,000 or $50,000 spread doesn’t do me a whole lot of good if I’m really trying to assess the value of my house as an asset.

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Of course the business model is it’s offering agents the opportunity to buy advertising on the site and be the exclusive ‘featured’ agent around the results – and presumably the recipient of all the leads, should any materialize.

But the real question is, is this too little, too late?

Zillow has all but wrapped up the home valuation games in the mind of the consumer – to Zillow your home is almost the same as FedEx’ng a package or Xeroxing an article (admittedly, the latter expression has fallen out of favor a bit of late).

Cyberhomes, Fidelity’s AVM tool, runs a close second. I had a chance to get a sneak peak at what the site is planning to do, at the C.A.R. meeting last week – and count me among the new believers. (A far cry from my initial review; see Cyberhomes AVM is a Total Joke).

I think Cyberhomes is poised for big things and I hope to write more about their product in the near future, but for the time being, if you’re interested in learning more about their strategy, I’d recommend reading Transparent Real Estate‘s excellent series on the service.

The only other guy on the block, eppraisal.com has an interesting approach, but I haven’t seen it gain much traction in terms of consumer traffic (see Alexa traffic graph below) – also, it kept giving me error messages when I punched in my home address… not good.

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HouseValues? Well, let’s not even get started on that dead model.

So, HomeGain getting into the game – does it mean anything? Well looking at the Alexa chart they still have a solid traffic ranking and it is certainly a more compelling feature than some of their other products (finding a Realtor, or clicking through to some random agent’s website) – but I doubt they’ll find much a niche trying to reposition themselves as a serious AVM site.

I think HomeGain is a little late to the party with this offering. What it may do is help keep some of their existing visitors hanging around just a little bit longer, but as far as getting new bodies I think they face a serious uphill slog.

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