Zoocasa offers online home price estimates

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Real estate search site Zoocasa recently launched Zoopraisal, which allows Canadians, for the first time, to get online home price estimates online, and at no charge.

“The launch of Zoopraisals addresses one of our most requested features,” says Butch Langlois, president of Zoocasa. “Knowing the current price of your home is the kick-off point for many Canadians as they consider making their next move.”

The service is provided through a licensing agreement with Centract Settlement Services. “Centract possesses one of the largest national databases of residential real estate prices and information in Canada,” says Rob Soja, vice-president of business development at Centract. “We’re really excited to be working with Zoocasa to provide home price estimates to Canadian consumers nationally.”

The Zoopraisal report includes an indication of a home’s price that is powered by Centract and based on like properties in their neighbourhood. It also provides additional content from the Zoocasa database and its content partnerships, including detailed neighbourhood demographics.

Langlois says: “Consumers are spending an average of 11 months in their home search process, predominantly online, and Zoocasa wants to support these consumers and allow them to conveniently connect with real estate professionals across the entire process including Realtors, mortgage lenders or other such experts.”

To see and use the Zoopraisal: www.zoocasa.com/zoopraisal.

16 COMMENTS

  1. What is in it for rem? rem is promoting zoocasa on their publication and feeding off Realtor’s business…how ironic.

  2. Brian, I am not a fan of the service but it is fairly clear that when you put in an address the initial output for that address are the "average lot size""average year built" etc…for that style of house in the area. You can change those to the actuals if you have better information to get a more refined zoopraisal. Not sure how you missed that. Your criticism of the final result may be valid regardless but most of your comment is clearly your misunderstanding of the process.

    • Hi Corby:

      Thanks for your opinion.

      You are quite right about the input / average for the are etc., but I made that clear when I ended my original commentary by stating that even the estimates are a way off base, which they most certainly are.

      I am aware that almost all of the so-called area comparables are much older than 1990.

      I am a former appraiser, and by that i mean I did not simply upload second-hand information gathered from arm's-length sources and put it out there as even only an estimate of values, lot sizes, construction dates, average area values etc.

      Zoopraisal's process is a non-process as far as I can determine when juxtaposing it against that of an actual appraiser of merit's process, which can in and of itself nevertheless render an inaccurate opinion of value.

      Zoopraisal's attempt to replicate a valuation procedure via remote means renders a remote valuation, even if it is only an estimate of area averages.

      Would you kindly let us know what your background is in this area? You seem to have a grasp of that which you are commenting on in this regard.

      Regards,

      Brian

  3. Hi John: There was no mix-up in my opinion. The info. was stated as being an estimate of like properties based upon similar surrounding properties (and they are similar). I typed in my mother's address; the map displayed by Zoopraisal correctly identified my mother's property right down to the property next door which was also correctly identified (a cemetery); there was no mistake. I would not have posted the results of the Zoopraisal if there was any doubt in my mind regarding a mix-up.

    What I did not mention in my comments was the name "Centract Settlement Services", which the subject article states as being the main supplier of relevant valuation information to Zoocasa, among others. I know from personal experience how MPAC market valuations miss the mark, much more often than not. I can not speak for Centract. However, I did complete many appraisals for Centract during my years working as an appraiser. I don't think that any of my evaluations could have been used to establish value for the properties in my mother's area. For the record, I negotiated a purchase for my mother's property in November 2008 for $195,000. That's quite a way off of the Zoopraisal estimate of $417,500 for the average property in the area. There is currently a listing just up the road from my mothers on the MLS (for the last month approximately) unsold at a listing price of $214,900 or thereabout.

    Re: your earlier question about the CB / TREB: I was directing my focus upon what I refer to as bargain-basement "Realtycellars" re: wanting something for nothing, and not the public specifically, as regards this case. It is a given that the public is always looking for something for nothing, including you and me…does it / do we not?

    I can see you chuckling.

    Regards,

    Brian

  4. Hi Carolyne:

    You and REM's readership will, I am sure, be interested in what I am about to opine regarding the appraisal profession as I experienced it from within.

    To begin, I refer to the appraisal profession as a B S profession, at least from the standpoint of my experience within same in my current area of operation.

    I've got the area appraisers' attentions now, at least those who take the time to read REM online. Bad news travels fast.

    I worked as an appraiser for upward of six years during the early to late 2000's, completing upward of 1,500 or more appraisals, with only a cursory glance from my sponsor for same after the first few months. I left the business three months prior to obtaining my CRA designation / certification after having been terminated by my employer / sponsor for reasons of dubious merit. I had in fact made an error regarding the square footage of a subject property (which did not affect the market value of the property as depreciated cost per square foot has little to do with current market value) over ONE YEAR earlier; seems the employer had another reason to unload me. It seems that I had actual opinions, which I expressed unreservedly, about the workings of the business that flew in the face of the copy-cat practitioners within the cadre of area practitioners; I was not a 'player'. I walked away from the business with an attitude of disgust for some of the goings-on that I was made privy to within the tight-knit community of "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" practitioners.

    I have never looked back.

    But to your statement…"If there is to be a mortgage on a property, ultimately it will be the bank who determines its value."

    In reality, it will be the bank's lending officer of note who will accept an appraiser's 'opinion of value'. I know that this seems to be nothing more than hair-splitting, but we are talking about a full head of thick unruly hair here.

    Would you be surprised if I told you that it was common practice for some appraisers to call and ask Real Estate buddies for their opinions regarding certain parcels of real estate? Don't be.

    Would you be surprised if I told you that some appraisers regularly called other appraiser buddies from competeing offices for their opinions regarding certain parcels of real estate? Don't be.

    Would you be surprised if I told you that some 'competing' appraisers might even have colluded with one another regarding establishing a close range of value of say, a property involved in a mariage breakdown, in order to negate the potential for court appearances if the valuations were too far apart? Don't be.

    Would you be surprised if I told you that the main point of contention of an appraisal is its ultimate defendability in court by way of said appraisal report being produced in such a way as to be defendable via duly applied appraisal techniques sanctioned by the Appraisal Institue of Canada (defendable by a lawyer in court), and to hell with the actual valuation numbers? In other words, an incorrect valuation, either high or low, takes second precedence to process.

    An appraisal can be wrong, as long as process is followed. This type of document will hold sway in court, even though in reality the end result of the process is wrong. Even the teachers of the courses reiterated this one truth of appraising, along with my sponsor. It seems that appraisers' main concerns are process, and not accuracy. Surprised? Don't be.

    Would it surprise you if I told you that I was commissioned by a bank lending officer to complete an appraisal on a property for which the bank was to hold a mortgage thereon upon completion of an Agreement of Purchase and Sale, and that I was to be the fifth appraiser to complete an appraisal on the subject property for said purpose? Why four previous appraisals requiring a fifth you ask? Because of the wide divergence of values produced via due process by appraisers of dubious hands-on feeling for the market or for value other than that which they could only produce via number crunching via approved methods without any experiential, common-sense 'feel' for the value of real estate. This was a sale, mind you, wherein an actual 'target price', the sale price, was already in effect. An unknown reality of the real estate appraisal / bank link is that the appraiser only need to 'justify' the price paid for the property, and not to necessarily establish a valuation that contradicts the sale price, plus or minus, too much. The problem with this particular transaction was that no appraiser had actually taken the sale price (which is in fact the actual market value that appraisers rely on when choosing comparables for their appraisal assignments!) into consideration when completing the opinion of value for the bank. On a two hundred twenty something thousand dollar sale price the appraisals varied by about thirty five thousand dollars! The bank officer said that she would go with whatever I came up with. (She was well aware of my former hands-on background in real estate) To make a long story short, the deal closed. Surprised? Don't be.

    I could go on and on, but I think my point has been made.

    Obviously, I have no intention of asking to be allowed back into the B S clique.

    I'm currently visiting my sister here in Maryland, and I have some time on my hands; ergo this response to your post.

    Best Regards,

    Brian, the loose, but accurate cannon.

    P.S.: Maybe I'll hear from some of my former compatriots on this one!

    • Nothing in your post that I, personally, didn't already know and haven't already seen, Brian. But it takes guts for you to have put it in print. Always wondered why no one exposed the dark side of value and how it is arrived at. I could quote three specific recent situations that fall within your words.

      Many years ago someone who manages the "whole-world" formulated a "grid-pattern" for most things. If the subject information deviates from whatever the "norm" in the grid pattern determines it is classified to be, it automatically positions the subject. Doesn't make it right. I call it – makes it an "is."

      It just "is." And we're not talking just appraisals. It applies to credit scores, loan evaluations LTV, equity based or not, auto values, general banking, investment portfolios and the government arenas that track everything everyone does and says, including, likely to the surprise of some – cross border undeclared shopping (they know exactly what you bought and where, even if you don't disclose it). They can see your credit-card purchases right there before their eyes. One-world government is only a hop, skip and jump away.

      Let me know when you return and I'll share a current "appraisal" with you. It fell within every word you wrote. The appraiser only took into account two low area prices, never taking into account that both properties had to sell. One had an attempt murder associated with the divorce involved. Should that affect the value of the bricks and mortar? It does. In my opinion, it shouldn't. But the list price proved a fire-sale, which then affects adjacent properties if the appraiser doesn't have sense enough to eliminate the low and the high and work with the middle. As did the resultant sale price.

      Likewise a couple of years back I sold a property for 60k more than three other people said it was worth. It had two offers a week apart. One bumped the other. The first agent called those three people (his buddies) to see how much his people should offer. They told him. He informed me of that information gathering procedure when he brought the offer.

      His low price offer didn't fly. But positioned the "value" with an appropriate signback. The second buyer appeared saying they wanted to buy it since it had come on the market but the agent refused to show.

      Guess who brought the 60k higher offer, never knowing what the signback was (unless the selling agent told)? One of the three who said it wasn't worth it, sold it. HUH? If the ultimate selling (MLS(r)) agent really believed what was said initially, don't you think the agent should have found a way to talk the buyer out of buying it? Hmmmm. . . subsequent properties sold even higher within a short timeframe. The market determines all.

      Thanks, Brian – for exposing the truth. Much film in this industry is developed 'behind the veil' of who knows whom, where. Sad but true. Bankers and mortgage brokers are often complicit.

      Of course we know the "definition" of fair market value. Seems some people don't.

      Best regards,
      Carolyne L http://www.Carolyne.com

    • An expat Canadian, REALTOR(r) in the States, (some of you may know Jim Crawford) just posted this information. Thought you might find it interesting. Personally, I haven't been following the story, but your enlightened post drew it to my attention, Brian.

      Here is the story link, and he added "Wow, the Zillow acquisition of Diverse Solutions for $7.8 million in cash and stock is big big news for this industry. I’ve got a unique perspective on this announcement for a few reasons:" :
      Zillow Acquires Diverse Solutions – What Does This Mean for Everyone? http://www.geekestateblog.com

      and it netted this response from another poster:
      An Interview With Justin LaJoie on the Zillow Acquisition of Diverse Solutions – The Phoenix Real Es http://www.phoenixrealestateguy.com
      Zillow acquires real estate IDX search vendor Diverse Solutions. An interview with the Diverse Solutions founder and CEO.

      Cordially,
      Carolyne L http://www.Carolyne.com

    • Hi Carolyne:

      I will be back home sometime late Moday November 28th.

      I believe you already have my email address.

      I would be very interested in hearing about your appraisal experience(s).

      Thanks for your kind back-up comments.

      No registered letters yet!

      Regards,

      Brian

  5. I absolutely agree that our industry must do more to benefit from the information we collect and whether we agree or disagree with zoocasa they're not breaking any rules. What we can do is look to them for ways to improve our own system, we should be the one and only place consumers want to go…in short we need to be competitive. The one advantage that companies like zoocasa have over our own industry is that they focus on one thing, and that's the wants and needs of consumers…we don't.

    Our industry faces so many challenges but the biggest come from within and until we confront these issues we'll continue to fall behind and will continue to fail at defending ourselves. Our Boards are faced with an industry divided and whatever direction they choose they'll face the wrath from of its membership.

    Significant change is happening now and until our industry accepts this change and unites, you can expect the zoocasas to continue at making the MLS System less relevent.

    Rod Thompson, Founder
    SellerInvite.com

  6. Why do agents give third parties their mls data so that it can be used against them or to generate revenue for the third party ? IE Rogers Zoocasa

    Shouldn't our own associations get any funding from advertising revenue generated from mls data?

    Perhaps this is what CREA should be spending our money on – fighting against third parties who use our data NOT making it easier for them to get it with their proposed distributed data program.

    If you want to know more about the Zoocasa monster, talk to those US agents who fight against it every day and how it is the number one site behind realtor.com

  7. Excellent report, Brian.

    Requesting permission to reprint, Brian (Jim Adair). Now that this entry has appeared on REM, who owns the copyright to it? Brian or REM?

    From whomever, kindly respond to my private email to grant permission. I want to put a copy of this on my website so the public can peruse it at their discretion please.

    Many of you will know about the consumer education articles I have written that are on the corp. site. Brian's post will certainly prove valuable to my readers, so if nothing else, they ask questions; the only dumb questions are the ones that don't get asked..

    Cordially as always,
    Carolyne L http://www.Carolyne.com

  8. I just completed a free "Zoopraisal" on my mother's property just outside of Lakefield, Ontario's village limits.

    "Zoopraisal" states that the living area is 1,522 square feet.

    Actual square footage?…1,060 square feet.

    "Zoopraisal" states that the house was built in 1990.

    Actual construction date?…pre 1970 by a couple of years or more.

    "Zoopraisal" states that average property 'estimate' in the immediate area is $417,500.

    Actual average property 'price' in the immediate area ranges from about $200,000. to about $250,000.

    "Zoopraisal" states that it cannot calculate an 'estimate' of 'value' for my mother's property for lack of area comparables as well as for the fact that the property is located in a rural setting. However, a number of properties have sold within the immediate area over the last twelve months, and the rural setting is right on the edge of the village border.

    "Zoopraisal's" stated square footage of the lot is off by about 3,000 square feet.

    How do I know all of this?

    I am a licensed Real Estate sales representative. I am also a former real estate appraiser, licensed tradesman, builder, conciliator with Tarion New Home Warranty Corp., member of the Ontario Building Official Association, to name a few pursuits. I don't, never did and never will work for free.

    The above "Zoopraisal" misinformation is what you get for free.

    (NOTE: Zoocasa’s / Zoopraisal’s escape clause to the right of the calculation grid reads “These are estimates based on neighbourhood averages for this location.”)

    These estimates are so wrong that it is laughable.

    "Zoopraisal" is going to generate a lot of money for itself via side agreements with outfits like the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) from which it must have acquired some, if not most, of its misinformation about my mother's property. While working as an appraiser I discovered that MPAC valuations were seldom on the mark, or in many cases, anywhere near the mark, but what do you expect from an arm's-length government organization staffed by button pushing computer types who do NOT inspect properties for which properties they provide municipalities with value estimates (upon which "estimates" said municipalities establish their tax rate figures when taxing the property owners)?

    One other thing: Because "Zoopraisal" offers their misinformation for free, if you (yes, I mean you, misinformed member of the naive public in search of quality information / education / guidance for nuthin') want something of quality for nuthin', join the club of dummies who end up learning the hard lessons of financial tight-wire-acts the expensive and rue-filled way, by way of often unsuccessful lawsuits against an organization that can not be held legally responsible for its misleading information because…are you ready for it?…they did not 'sell' (there's that nasty word again!) the information…they offered it for FREE! The partaker of the freebee is always responsible for his/her own due diligence.

    Lawyers…start your engines…the wrecks on the free ways of pie-in-the-sky drivers' vehicles and financial lives created by Pollyanna mindsets are awaitin' your legal expertise. Make sure you up the charges for the really stupid ones, in case they turn around and sue you for lack of pro bono performance.

    P.S.: This advice is also offered for free. The difference is, I'm not trying to get rich quick by taking the time to deliver it.

    My advice? If you want quality…pay for it. If you feel disenfranchised by acting upon paid-for advice that delivers a negative result, you can use the legal system, and maybe even just the threat of same, to potentially recoup your losses.

    Prosecuting "FREE-FOR-THE-TAKING advice givers?,,,fergedaboudit!

    Have a nice day folks!

    Brian

    • Hi Brian,
      Your post is reproduced on my corp website as an appendage to the MPAC link; duely copyright noted as per your permission and Jim's on behalf of REM. Thank you.

      I believe your article has substance not just regarding Zoocasa. No one is throwing stones at Zoocasa, just highlighting the ineffeciences we fight on a daily basis, as REALTORS(r).

      It is issues such as you have drawn to the forefront that we must be armed and ready to justify (or not) with members of the public who have done their own research and feel by so doing they now are empowered by an expert opinion of value. Often not so.

      I have a reputation of often getting exceptional prices for my listings. But we should note that a house is only worth what someone else is prepared to pay for it, given sufficient exposure of it to the open market, and presuming the seller is sincerely interested in parting company with his property. If there is to be a mortgage on the property, ultimately it will be the bank who deteremines its value.

      Nonetheless, the points you have brought forward, Brian, are valid and serve as good measure for what we see on an almost daily basis.

      Once again, thank you for sharing this important information. Your own credentials speak to your own professional standards, providing you with an unusual opportunity to speak to this issue personally.

      Cordially,
      Carolyne L http://www.Carolyne.com

    • Brian if all you say about Zoopraisal's description of your mother's property is true, could it be that the details they provided was some sort of a mix-up on their part?

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