Disruption tools have the potential to dramatically change the face of the real estate industry.  Nowhere is there a better example of real estate disruption than Zillow in the United States and their “Zestimate”, an automated property valuation (APV) that has been at the forefront of Zillow’s breathtaking rise to prominence within the industry.

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What they have accomplished with the Zestimate is impressive. The Zestimate tool is able to estimate a property’s real-time market value with an accuracy that is within five per cent of its selling price, 82 per cent of the time across the entire United States.

The Zestimate was introduced more than a decade ago and since then it has become a big hit with both homeowners and wannabe homeowners.  It has been a game changer for their business model.

Now that Zillow is firmly established as the APV champion in the U.S. market, Insightt has researched the market to see who has the potential to claim this crown in the Canadian real estate industry.  So far, there is no clear-cut winner, but there are number of proptechs that are making some huge strides.

We see three Canadian proptech companies that understand the importance of big data and artificial intelligence and have already developed industry leading APVs. These companies are our picks for having the best chance for automated valuation supremacy in Canada.

HouseSigma

This was the first real estate brokerage to make housing market information simple and easy to understand for consumers, real estate investors and even Realtors. The brokerage has made a conscious effort to leverage data and technology as a differentiator and they have done a great job.

HouseSigma created interactive, visual and real-time housing market information, something that has always been lacking in the Canadian real estate market. House Sigma has also developed a robust and accurate APV tool called SigmaEstimate that it includes on every listing.

HouseSigma shows its strength as a data company since it is able to provide rent estimates, rental yields and even let the consumer know the state of the real estate market.

Zolo Realty

This is another proptech real estate company that has been in the market for some time and has been leveraging technology and data. The team at Zolo have built a real-time property valuation model, which we have tested with impressive results.

Properly Homes Brokerage

The team at Properly has not only raised a lot of private equity capital to propel their rocket ship real estate brokerage, but they have the potential to disrupt the real estate industry. They have focussed on solving customer pain points in the real estate transaction through a sales assurance program and they also have built an impressive property valuation model that leverages artificial intelligence. What we like about the Properly valuation solution is that the client validates key facts about the home in their APV, which will help to make it more accurate.

We also wanted to give an honourable mention to Condos.ca even though it has not yet listed a real time APV on its website. This company has the data capabilities and strength to have an APV up and running very quickly.

Formally known as Property.ca Inc. Brokerage, this real estate brokerage has been around for some time now and has been a clear leader dealing with big data and market information in the condominium market. What is most impressive about this company is that it looks at the selling price of condominiums on a price per square foot. The company has built a competitive advantage by sourcing this square footage information. At the time of this writing, the company did not have a real-time property valuation tool shown on its website. But it has the data capabilities and strengths that would allow it to have one up and running very quickly.

Putting it all into perspective

While we have only featured four proptech companies in this article, there are plenty of great start-ups building property valuation models. Some notable companies that have made great headway with data, insights and building an APV include Buy Properly, Konfidis and Offerland.

We see real-time property valuation as a key disruption tool in the Canadian market.  Real estate companies that are not making serious investments in data and technology are at risk of being disrupted.

16 COMMENTS

  1. Best job in the world worked for me. I didn’t want to be an agent team babysitter. I’m not saying my way is the only way but as a know-nothing entering the field, I quickly learned what ended up working well for me and my analytical yet apparently unique ways of doing things. I never had to work hard although I dedicated long hours discovering what I needed to know; all the many things I didn’t know. Absolutely dedicated to my new career.
    ===

    Selling residential real estate has very little to do with houses. A story today in the National Post seems to be a déjà vous?

    I sold more real estate than anyone I knew and rarely left my desk. I read excessively; anything and everything real estate related, concentrating especially on local material.

    I studied my market trading area like a religious zealot. I watched daily MLS reports and kept records of subdivisions where most desirable properties changed ownership most often, recognizing that I was building business for the future, while anticipating building a farm. There was no one with whom to confer and share ideas and add to that for all the talking (writing) I do I am a very private person in real life and I never discuss my client business.

    I sold properties and helped buyers – quite literally in my sleep. And yes, I visualized sold signs. Mine. It was quite exciting actually, creating volumes of notes, well-filed. Sold signs meanwhile popped up like bunnies being very prolific.

    Would-be buyers and sellers sensed my high energy. I brought it with me from the publishing field in 1980 when I made a possible outrageous career change decision about to jump horses midstream with no rider experience, maybe riding side saddle with no harness or saddle. I had never had to solicit publishing business either. It was just an incoming phone call asking if I had time to consider working on a particular manuscript (mostly edu but occasionally ms such as bio material such as E.P. Taylor or Richard Rohmer, or to develop a scholastic index, or help edit Cdn dictionaries. Someone had suggested my name. Long before the world of the Net.

    Multiple edu topics. But believe me when I say never worked on a cookbook. A whole n’other world. I just developed and wrote recipes. And quickly learned editing a cookbook was not my forte.

    In real estate I spent hours on the telephone with possible clients who called me; I hadn’t ever called them, just developing rapport. I never asked such questions as when their birthday was, or anniversaries, as is often recommended, and I never asked them to do business with me. One question that NEVER ever should be asked: How many children do you have. For many people that is a very sensitive topic especially the more so if they had lost a child. I lost an incoming American referral that I’d had to pass along in Canada to a Toronto area rep. I got an earful because the Toronto rep had first up asked that question.

    Always just ask how many people will be living in the buyer’s new property. They will guide your questions that will lead you in the conversation.

    They will buy a house but turn it into their personal home at their own chosen speed.

    I always simply asked the caller how I could help them. Then be quiet and let them carry the conversation at their pace.

    Wasn’t interested in their personal lives or in adding them to my private friend short list. Some colleagues saw that as arrogance. It wasn’t meant to be. I was always courteous but firm. And in some cases I had to be strong and explain why I couldn’t take them on as a client, because they had unrealistic expectations. I was seriously interested in working with sincere up front ready to do business qualified people. But I did set up a file.

    I needed to know what the caller wanted from me. And I answered their questions, and questions they didn’t know to ask me.

    Round about 1985, an agent at RLP G-twn who was leaving the business and moving to Alberta to follow her husband’s business transfer introduced me to a based in Vancouver expensive real estate support system. It cost $85. That was considered expensive in the day. The thinking process of the system changed my business life, literally. I still have the zippered binder.

    Sadly not long after that company vanished from the radar. Apparently no agents across Canada wanted to invest $85 in their personal real estate success. But I understood the concept and built my business around it. It required daily input and prognosis. Planned and actual, compared. It was an interesting process and served as a natural motivator. Competition? I learned I had none. Again, not arrogance; simply concentration.

    Listen to YouTube Business Bible:
    https://youtu.be/K-o-1vASy0s

    This YouTube is definitely worth listening to even so it is clearly American. It’s not difficult to weed out the parts that don’t apply in Canada and is full of excellent general information that agents who are thinking of operating a real estate business within a business as now permitted will find considerable information. Many agents and their teams have already made the transition not knowing any of the important information presented in the Youtube:
    Listen to: the Business Bible by Steven Strauss…

    https://youtu.be/K-o-1vASy0s

    Back to the beginning… there’s so much more to the real estate world than dealing with properties…

    Respectfully,

    Carolyne L 🍁

  2. This robotic system works off of stats. Stats are only good when considering multiples of hundreds, or thousands. We’re talking individual properties here. This system therefore generalizes. It’s a statistical thing, not a real thing. Thus, we’re dealing with robotic lies.

    You’ve heard the old saying: There are lies; there are damned lies, and then there are statistics.

    Statistically speaking, statisticians, even robotic ones, deal with statistics, not the reality of individuality.

    Statistically speaking, when I was born, the life expectancy of a male in Canada was around the early-to-mid sixties. I’m seventy-four, headed for one hundred…unless I get hit by lightning…which statistically reflects about the same odds as winning the lottery. But what are the odds re which one would hit? 50/50? 90/10? We can’t ask those who were struck; they’re dead. We can ask those who won, but they would say: “F—-d if I know. I’m not a statistician! The odds were fourteen million to one against me winning…and I won! The odds were fourteen million to one that he wouldn’t get struck by lightning…and he’s dead! Therefore, the odds pro or con for anything, on an individual basis, are always 50/50.

    Therefore, the odds that robo-appraiser is right are always 50/50. Put correctly, they’re 50/50 that it will be wrong. No different than a human. Garbage in; garbage out.

  3. Imagine a property worth one million dollars according to AI and being accurate to within 5%. That is a range of $950,000 to $1,050,000. That is $100,000 from low to high. It would be very hard to be wrong with that kind of margin of error. TRREB is out of touch in this regard; not a doubt in my mind. Imagine if we were to dispose of TRREB/local boards. Then develop a provincial wide system MLS through an Ontario body such as OREA and then funnel all that membership money formally paid to TRREB into development; imagine where we could be. According to REM as it stands now, we didn’t even make the list. Shame on us.

  4. Variation of 5%? And that is the average there may be many times that guesstimate May be off by more than 5%. $50,000 on a $1,000,000 dollar property. Significant amount! Can a seller sue a computer? Accurate 82% of the time? That is another average. Imagine the Seller falling in that 18% ( or greater) bracket? Again big tech trying to solve a problem that does not exist. And yes they get that data from realtors.

    • American agents are reporting that Zillow down there has some scheme whereby the company buy properties based on a algorithym. It’s so far out of whack that even agents who are approached by Zillow for the sale of their own homes are saying.’sure, how soon do you want the keys?’

      • Till last fall I owned a property in the USA. The “Zestimate” I monitored for years was always a big joke. Sometimes it would fluctuate by 100 K within a few weeks. Just like a yo-yo. Totally unreliable as far as my personal experience. I am still getting the updates 9 months later and nothing has changed for my former property or any other ones in the same building.

  5. These are absolutely laughable. I cannot believe this is posted. I spent 310k on my 37 year old apartment. Good luck assessing that from behind a screen.

  6. The day one of these online valuations can walk through a propertyand actually assess all of it is the day their valuations will actually be credible.

    Right now they are contributing to the overpriced market. it is ridiculous how many people actually take these valuations as gospel. During the downturn of 2017 the evalautions were way off on the downside.

    • Licenced in 1980, I was always fascinated by lack of helpful “notes” in MLS listings, such that would be useful to appraisers when using specific tight-in comps in a given subdivision.

      Aside from importance of the relative location, having perhaps sales of equal square footage and lot size, that was mostly all they had to work with. I always got phone calls from appraisers even so I had plenty of support notes in my listings, inquiring as to why my listings often sold for higher prices, even in down markets.

      When we were taught the appraisal course we were told to chop off the highest and lowest comps and work with three in between.

      The caller had no foreknowledge of comps, never having inspected, because some things such as uncleaned kitty litter boxes complete with urine fragrance; scratches from dogs or cats on expensive imported hardwood floors or chewed carpet and sofa arms, of course cannot be released in “condition remarks.” Because they had not pre-inspected the comps.

      Always lift loose carpets to see what might be covered up. I discovered a situation that might have turned ugly: a ten by ten kitchen work area had a loose rug. Under it ALL the floor tiles were badly smashed. Had to disclose. (Got fixed and house sold quickly for top dollar.) Seller had tried to hide damage from having dropped a heavy cast iron pot. Other agents never checked… yet I got the listing.

      Spaghetti stuck on backsplashes and shower stalls that were needing replacing because the mold was fierce.

      So to the robotics and automatons: how are various adjustments made to take the aforementioned into consideration using calculating stats?

      Which robot gets to make the final decision; hard enough if the appraiser knows the area Iike the back of his hand, but perhaps having no real life knowledge of an area and relying on the robots, must make the job nearly impossible and not always even correct now having to rely on the robotic information. How is THIS protecting the public?

      We clearly cannot stand in the way of progress. But I’m just curious how the relativity plays out in the final numbers to which the buyer and seller are not privy. Only the lender has access to the finance details as the institution ordered and paid for the details. (Although sometimes that cost is laid upon the borrower as an adjustment.)

      I would like to hear thoughts on this.

      Carolyne L

      Sent from my iPhone

      • Showed a property yesterday out towards your way actually Carolyne, that looked just super in the photos. My clients asked before we visited what I thought it was worth, I answered I can’t say until I see it but market value of comps suggests $x. So we saw it, they asked me again, I said every window has mould on it, some of it looks like moss, estimate to replace those, presuming the windows is the moisture problem which I doubt is the sole issue, is about $15k to replace.

        Zolo valued the property 3% more than my original estimate. It sold in multiple offers to some other buyer (we did not participate) for exactly my estimate minus $15k. A buyer following Zolo would indeed have coughed up 5+ percent more.

        Coincidence maybe but I bet any money that mould and moss wasn’t even noticed.

        • Hmmm… and we wonder why the world is sick… and of course the robots didn’t account for what you saw. And to the buyers maybe it just felt like home. A replica of how they currently live. There’s a lid for every pot. And if there was a live buyer agent involved maybe it also felt like home. People do live that way, so it passes muster.

          Carolyne L

        • This article might shed light on the robotic evaluation world? Certainly an interesting company evaluation for purpose of raising corp capital?
          In today’s news.

          GGV Capital gave this real estate startup founder a term sheet 48 hours after meeting
          Realm, which aims to help homeowners maximize the value of their property with its data platform, has raised $12 million in Series A funding led by GGV Capital. Existing backers Primary Venture Partners, Lerer Hippeau and Liberty Mutual Strategic Ventures also participated in the round, bringing the New York-based startup’s total raised to $15 million. Liz Young founded Realm, launching the platform earlier this year with the goal of providing “a one-stop-shop for accessible, actionable …
          Read in TechCrunch: https://apple.news/AUbQSCrZoT8qyWgQDE8wj-w

          Shared from Apple News

  7. TREB as far as I know does what it can to invest in tech however it’s no secret that they will never be able to compete with hedge funds and who ever else that is trying to diversify their investment portfolio by trying to reinvent the real estate wheel…here we go…again but now with AI to perfect valuation models and monetize them. We all forget that if it were not for the “data” that brokerages own and many scrape and try to sell it back to us, there would be no numbers to crunch or values to be had. At the end of the day, this is a high-touch industry that has always had long sales cycles and very heavy on customer service. That will never change.

  8. Anyone calling something “disruptive” before it is, isn’t worth reading. I mean seriously, can we all stop the hyperbole? “Disruptive” is only meaningful in the past tense. If it hasn’t disrupted anything yet, then it ain’t disruptive. Clear?

  9. Zestimate bids high when a lead-for-a listing is at stake and bids low when a “wholesale buying” opportunity presents itself (ie their 82% is low & should be mocked – not praised) This auto-bot company is COMPETING with Registrants with the underlying premise “all registrants are he same and none of them are much good (but don’t say that out loud)” They borrowed the concept from a competitor of theirs whose motto was “do no evil(while doing the opposite). Don’t buy their leads. Don’t be their local yokel employee. Don’t taske you clients their offers. Yes somebody will, but it doesn’t have to be you.

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