Just in case you weren’t depressed enough with the state of your savings account balances or 401K statements, personal finance web site Mint.com now allows you to track your home’s value as part of your overall financial position.
If you haven’t tried the service, Mint.com is a fantastic site that gives you a single place where you can begin to keep track of all of your balances, investments, debts, loans and helps you start to categorize your purchases and see what your spending habits are.
Mint’s secret sauce is that it pipes in all of your accounts automatically (and securely) into your dashboard so that they are instantly updated with any new activity. It’s a fantastic tool that’s made even better with their iPhone application (iTunes link) which lets you take all of that information with you.
The latest update of the site now allows you to add your homes, including vacation and investment properties, to your account (click under Your Accounts > Real Estate). Punch in your address and a dollar figure appears. The home values are provided through a relationship with Cyberhomes.
It’s a slick integration, but the danger I see here is that there are no disclaimers on how the results are generated. AVM tools like Cyberhomes and Zillow have been controversial in the past (see Zillow Zestimates Under Fire) as they rely on algorithms rather than true appraisals to generate the values they assign particular properties.
And while it’s an interesting data point in your dashboard, tracking your home’s value in this fashion is simplistic at best and also possibly misleading. Especially if consumers begin to rely on a single source and the dollar figure that is generated as the gospel truth to their home’s value.
Mint would be wise to provide a simple disclaimer and perhaps some additional data sources (Zillow, Homegain, Eppraisal, to name just a few) to balance out the picture a bit.