my-currency Crowdsources Home Valuations

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my-currency is a site that launches later this week at the DEMO conference in Palm Desert, California. It’s hoping to out-Zillow a Zestimate by tapping into social media; blogs, wikis and user generated content to help finesse a home’s value.

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The idea is that the ‘wisdom of the crowds’ will be far more accurate than any machine generated valuation. Like a fantasy stock market game, users are encourage to estimate the value of a home, to place a “trade” and vote whether they think the price is too high or too low. They then get points on how accurate their prediction is based on the final selling price of the home.

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The idea is the more people involved is predicting the price means the accuracy of the CrowdValueTM of the home will get closer and closer to the “real” value of the home. Real estate professionals are also encouraged to get involved in the process so they can demonstrate their local market expertise.

Over time, so the theory goes, the true experts will begin to appear.

I like the concept, but I see a few problems with the model right off the bat.

An accurate assessment of a home’s value really requires first hand observation of the property. Unlike stocks, whose value can be predicted on financial figures, past performance, etc. – a home’s value is much harder to determine over the Internet and really requires (to borrow a metaphor) “boots on the ground”. This is one of the big criticisms of Zillow’s AVM model – the so-called “Unzillowable” factor.

my-currency’s model requires crowd participation to estimate a home’s value, but I’m not sure how qualified the average user is to make an assessment of a home’s value. Even for the most web savvy among them, just looking at comparable sales and past performance of the neighborhood can only be one part of the equation and I think it’d be tough to find much more information on a home by simply surfing the Net and not seeing it in person.

That said, if the real estate industry really takes to this idea – then I suppose it could be a great way to vet a proposed listing price to community of interested parties.

In any case, the site, launched by Karim Tahawi, is in early Alpha stage right now and is in fairly rudimentary form right now. Data is not present in all markets but keep your eyes on it as it evolves.

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