Modelry - A Random Walk through Internet Real Estate: Zillow's NEGATIVE Equity Map Revealed & Discussed.

Zillow's NEGATIVE Equity Map Revealed & Discussed.

Zillow is a PR machine, to their credit.  Their recent negative equity map has got people talking and I am sure it will drive traffic to Zillow.  One agent Greg Nino takes offense with it due to their use of tax assessment values for their map.

Recently Zillow created a "Negative Equity Map."


It reminds me of the overzealous and overly excited Meteorologist who jump up and down and twitch with excitement when  there's a Tropical Storm or Hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. I've lived in Texas most of my life, so I've seen and heard my share from the local weather guy.


It's important to understand what Zillow is and what it can be. If you live in Texas you should familiarize yourself with the ABOUT ZESTIMATES tab on


Here's what you should know



In Dallas, Zillow Zestimates can be off by more than 20% 66.1% of the time. (according to Zillow's website)

In Houston and San Antonio Zillow uses local "Tax values" to provide its Zestimate. Zillow actually gives themselves 1 star for this information. One star out of a possible 4 star "valuation." I wonder this... If Four Stars is their best evaluation what does 1 star mean? They actually consider their Zestimates in Dallas worthy of two stars. A "FAIR ZESTIMATE."  I'm guessing one star means UNFAIR ZESTIMATE. I dunno.

Here's my opinion....

Using terminology like "underwater values" peaks interest (which is what Zillow is all about) because it insights fear, worry and potential panic. Just like the media. They don't report the good stuff, just the garbage in hopes to get a rise out of people. Just like your friendly politician.

The most interesting thing about this map is that it shows that 31% of the homes in Harris County Texas (my mkt) are "underwater."

Remember that Zillow gives themselves ONE GOLD STAR for their Zestimates in Houston Texas, which is located in Harris County. Two Gold Stars is identified as "FAIR ZESTIMATE."

Zillow has a ZERO STAR rating, but doesn't use it for Houston.


Zestimate Accuracy/Star Rating: This rating is tied to the Median Error in an area.
The ratings are as follows:

  • Four Stars = Best Zestimate
  • Three Stars = Good Zestimate
  • Two Stars = Fair Zestimate
  • One Star = Tax assessor's value, or unable to compute Zestimate accuracy
  • 0 stars = No valuation












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The information contained in this blog is believed to be reliable and while every effort is made to assure that the information is as accurate as possible, the author of this blog, and its comments disclaim any implied warranty or representation about it's accuracy, completeness or appropriateness for any particular purpose. All information is copywritten and the property of Greg Nino.  





Nikesh Parekh

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Comment balloon 3 commentsNikesh Parekh • May 25 2012 08:32AM


Yes, zillow has some seriously whacked values.  I steer clear of it.

Posted by Eric Peltier, Mortgage Lender in Boulder CO (Eric Peltier - Premier Mortgage Group - Boulder Colorado) over 8 years ago

I cringe when the owner saves, but Zillow says my house is worth.....

Posted by Edward & Celia Maddox, EXPERIENCE & INTEGRITY - WE TAKE THE HIGH ROAD (The Celtic Connection Realty) over 8 years ago

When sellers tell me they referenced Zillow I tell them to google the accuracy of Zillow. This way they get many opinions and not just mine. Then I show them actual comps that invariably are confirm the sellers latent disbelief in the zestimate. Zillow makes me look good.

Posted by Dave Halpern, Louisville Short Sale Expert (Keller Williams Realty Louisville East (502) 664-7827) over 8 years ago