Thursday, November 09, 2006

L.A. Times: ZipRealty cuts forecasts as earnings plunge 80%

I was a little distressed to see this November 9, 2006 story by Annette Haddad. ZipRealty is already in trouble financially, and this housing market has barely started correcting. I want to see ZipRealty survive. At least, I want to see the idea of ZipRealty survive and improved upon.

ZipRealty offers some "openness" to our local real estate markets that most other realtor websites do not. I have checked the MLS listings at the websites of a number of local realtors and although I have no way of quantifying my opinion, I think ZipRealty's listings are most complete. In addition, it integrates recent sales data of nearby properties, satellite maps of the area, and Zillow value estimates. OK, we know that Zillow has had complaints about the accuracy of its estimates, but the fact that ZipRealty is integrated with a data source is what I like about it. I like how the neighborhood financial demographic statistics are also available, though I do wonder about the accuracy - is the median mortgage debt really only $46,987? Again, I like the fact that ZipRealty is integrating information from another data source and making it publicly accessible. In addition, ZipRealty has RSS feeds, which means you can take easy-to-parse data and reformat it and display it the way you want on another web page. This is definitely a step in the right direction, though in their current state these feeds have some issues.

Having already spent some hours constructing a neighborhood sales table as well as a listings table in a database at home, I have seen many problems with the way real estate data is reported and have definite opinions about how to resolve that. In fact, I think the real estate industry will undergo a revolution born from a bear market, and that one positive consequence of the revolution will be "openness", but that's a topic way beyond this blog.

In the meantime, let's just hope that I will be able to continue to use ZipRealty as a data source, so that in a few months time I can start blogging the statistics I get from querying my tables. And if anybody knows a comparable website with all the bells and whistles, please post a comment!


Blogger Rob Dawg said...

I'm kinda conflicted. Zip is a good idea and in front of a trend. That doesn't mean they have the correct formula.

1:19 PM, November 09, 2006  
Blogger bearmaster said...

I think it is entire possible that years and years of a bear market could wear down the real estate industry, and if it wants to survive, it will be forced to take measures to be more efficient about how it does things. And along with that I think the public (and the local property tax assessing offices) will become more and more insistent about having readily available access to this sales and listings data, updated in real time.

I don't envision the "final product" to look anything like ZipRealty in its current form. It is much too klunky and it is still too bottlenecked. Right now housing prices are falling rapidly. We don't generally learn that out of a realtor's current listings. To me this looks like the equivalent to the ticker tape machines running several hours behind in October 1929 - machines that had just been installed, were state of the art, and had been set up to handle higher volumes.

But compared to other realtor websites ZipRealty is an initial push forward.

1:38 PM, November 09, 2006  

Post a Comment

<< Home