Ever since Zillow evolved into.. well, whatever it is now (some sort of real estate search, AVM, mortgage rate and discussion forum Frankenstein Hydra, as far as I can tell), the controversy over Zestimates seems to have quieted down.

Maybe it’s that the novelty of seeing what your home is worth has worn off as housing prices crash.

Perhaps it’s that the PR pros at Zillow have done such a phenomenal job positioning the company in the media as a legitimate data source that the Zestimate has become an accepted statistic.

Or more likely, maybe it’s that the industry has been successfully wooed with the promises of easy, cheap marketing online tools (which are especially seductive in a down market) and any remaining resistance has slipped by the wayside.

In either case, Zestimates just don’t seem to be the point of contention they once were.

But today Zillow launched an iPhone app. One that, I suspect, promises to bring the debate over Zestimates (and their accuracy) back to the forefront.

Upfront – it’s a very slick app. The app’s location awareness (as demonstrated on the video embedded above) is truly a killer feature – fire it up, and the app immediately shows you where you are and then displays all the data on homes nearby. As you move around, the map and associated values update too. Freakin’ cool.

(That said, it was a little sluggish this morning however, not sure if was AT&T’s network or Zillow’s servers struggling to keep up).

Having had a chance to play with it a bit – I can vouch that as a potential buyer it is incredibly cool to be able to walk around my neighborhood and see what each home is worth and gauge what I could get for my money.

Sure, I know. A Zestimate is just a “starting point”. But here’s the thing, seeing that number while standing outside the home is a powerful physical association to price. One that as more and more people have access too (through other mobile platforms, see A House They Found on Zillow…) it’s going to start to have a greater impact; on negotiations and much more.

Having the power of the Zestimate in your hand is a mighty weapon to wield. Personally I can’t wait to walk into a home on a buying tour with my agent and being able to instantly call up how much Zillow says that home is worth and then compare it to the list price.

Given that scenario, I suspect the debate over Zestimates, long dormant – may just have woken up again.

The Zillow app is free and available in the App Store.

More: Read 1000Watt Consulting’s take on the app.

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