Zoopla defends itself after agent’s attack on misleading ‘valuations’

Zoopla has defended its online valuations, saying they are simply estimates.

A story in the Hull Daily Mail quotes an agent, Freda Dean, manager of Zest – which displays prominent OnTheMarket branding in its window – saying that the valuations are panicking some home owners, while raising false hopes in others.

Dean told the newspaper that some valuations are up to £100,000 out.

She said: “We’ve seen a lot of people come through the door recently who have used Zoopla to value their house and are shocked by the news they received.

“Some are pleasantly shocked because their property has been valued way above what it is actually worth and it is left to our staff to tell them the truth.

“Others are devastated because they know what they have paid for their property and the website is quoting a far lower value.”

According to the newspaper report, Zest research shows that the Zoopla website stated that a property in Cavendish Road, east Hull, was worth £279,125. However, it sold for £179,000.

Another house, in east Hull’s Mead Street, was valued at £77,259 when it was actually bought for £119,950.

Zoopla also valued a home in Kingswood, Hull, at £221,586, which sold for £188,000.

Dean told the newspaper: “This could just be the tip of the iceberg.

“These are just the people coming in to see us.

“There could be many more people out there who see these valuations online and are put off trying to move house at all because they don’t think their home is worth enough.”

However, Zoopla spokesman Lawrence Hall told the newspaper: “Our Zoopla estimates are our assessment of the current market value of a property.

“We are careful to call them estimates as, in some cases, our data might be incomplete or inaccurate, and so we encourage our users to help improve the accuracy by adding information via the ‘refine estimate’ links and button across our site.

“Our estimates are constantly refined, using the most recent data available and a variety of methodologies in order to provide the most current information on any home.

“However, they are not formal valuations and cannot be used as such.”

The full story is here

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34 Comments

  1. Robert May

    The problem is that many so called property experts are using the Zoopla stats as the basis of their actual supposedly professional valuations.   One of the bees in Ampersat’s bonnet  (2012) was the flawed Zoopla algorithms producing meaningless random numbers.  This one consumer benefiting feature  of Zoopla is the engine that powers the ‘wide area’ * online agency industry. Without the area  specific comparable  data  available to each branch  or office that operates in a specific area valuation of property is not possible. Valuation is reduced to pure guess work  and Psychic medium read the body language methods of plumping on a  guesitmate of value.

    Those with long memories or a good index of the old EAT archive will remember the discussions surrounding the White label EAT  AVM, the Calnea stats and the specific discussions about Zoopla’s random number generator. Lawrence Hall can back track on the intention and credibility of the data that for too long has been pumped out FOC to any Joe Blow but this is the weapon used by every FSBO, Passive Intermediary and  ‘wide area’ online agent to drive commissions down for those capable and qualified to value property.

    *Not traditional agents  who don’t have a shop front

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  2. RealAgent

    I was in one of my offices just last week when I overheard a call come in from someone offering £10,000 less on the asking price because and I quote. “Its what Zoopla have said the price SHOULD be” To be fair we had only had three offers on the same property that day; one £3000 less and two others at asking. We have had examples of online only agents using it as the basis of their valuation advice……madness. The bottom line is that Zoopla only have it there because they believe it creates more traffic to their website which in turn helps them create their hits figures….a further example as if it were needed of how their interests are nowhere near their clients interests.

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    1. Robert May

      I was Executor for an Estate sale, one of the beneficiaries got very uppity that the property was being sold off cheap, 44% less than the market value  on Zoopla. Another sale up in Norfolk, all 5 of Zooplas ‘recommended’ Agents (all the united colours of Countrywide)  each valued the property within £50 of the Zoopla price.  3 independent RICS/NAEA  estimates came in  20% more. Lawrence Hall can claim what he likes but the algorithms are simply wrong and are mis-guiding all those without the wit or experience to understand why.

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      1. PeeBee

        Message for the uber-numpty who’s favourite toy on EYE is the new ‘Dislike’ facility – a question:

        WHY ‘Dislike’ the above two posts?

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        1. PeeBee

          TWO ‘Dislikes’!

          I guess I kinda tee’d myself up for that…

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  3. smile please

    Lets be honest its a silly bit of kit that should not be used, they just have it as a USP.

    The amount of time a vendor thinks there property is worth X when they have not had regular maintenance or modernized the property in 30 years.

    Or worse still a purchaser who is buying the best house in the street which has been extended and modernized and thinks its over priced.

    Even on an average house in the street the price is out by thousands!

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    1. RealAgent

      Agreed. For some time now our valuers have had to check the Zoopla price before going out to a valuation, just to manage the clients expectations!

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      1. smile please

        We have not gone that far but might not be a bad idea!

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        1. Robert May

          If you had  unrestricted access to all this data can you think of a business model or specific business that would find a nationwide database of property values useful? How about one where Bedroom Billy is being sent out to advise on value as a local rep for a central office national firm? According to one post last night someone with access to all this data has invested in a firm fitting such a description.

           

          Now once you put two and two together on that one, wonder whose data it is being used to fuel your online competitor’s ability to offer any advice on value in any area of the country. Let’s take this to the next level how would you as agents feel if your  vendor client’s details were also being included in the real time data that creates this database of very useful and very valuable information? I am not saying it is but asking if any of you have any idea what  exactly is being transmitted from the security of your office systems and who  exactly  your data is being shared with.

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          1. smile please

            Robert,

            I agree that have our data used for other purposes are … well less than ideal!

            At the moment though i feel it is a necessary evil i can live with (although rather not).

            I have no issue with online agents, i think they have a place in the market and people should be allowed to use them.

            However i cannot stand the out and out lies and claims they post. They also need to to show a like for like service if they are going to show a like for like fee (and also justify their incredible high street fees they find).

            I also think high street agents need to get better at selling and providing their service. This is the main differential  to an online “Lister”

            I do think over the last 20 or so years agents have got lazy, they rely too much on tech and marketing as opposed to “Agency”

            We can debate portals, tech and advertising but to me true agency is dying and that is leading to the erosion of fees as now it is seen as the only differential to a lots of vendors. You are all the same advertise in the same place so who is the cheapest?

            My agency we get a fair fee, not the highest out there but a good fee to cover the what we offer, we charge this by selling our services, but in the same breath the public do demand to be on / in certain advertising mediums.

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            1. PeeBee

              Smile Please – you say “…but to me true agency is dying and that is leading to the erosion of fees as now it is seen as the only differential to a lots of vendors.”

              Come on, mon ami  :p – it is people LIKE YOU that is keeping true Agency alive – and kicking!

              Robert is scarily on the money with the post above.  The problem is we all to a degree think that it’s not a problem or that we will worry about it if and when it happens.  But I guess it IS happening under our noses… as we debate how best to do nothing about it.

              But Smile Please & Co, and the companies of all the other regular posters on here clearly have the drive, passion – and will – to keep the fire burning.

              We just don’t push it enough.  Some don’t even BELIEVE it enough.

              YOU are your clients’ most effective selling tool.  The other ‘tools’ are ALL simple extensions of you.

              We should use THEM – not the other way round.  Let’s not let the tail wag the dog.

              Robert – what next?

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              1. smile please

                Thank you …..i think! Mon Ami! 😉

                Problem is for every good agent such as myself (i like to think) there at 10 that are lazy and think agency is listing a property on the internet waiting for the phone to call.

                And these are not just internet agents they are also high street agents.

                As for the using of our data, what do we do walk away from Z and RM? Thats a risk i am not willing to take….

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              2. Robert May

                Let say I decide to open an office in the same town as Smile, Please, Sell & co, I employ the same cleaning firm to keep my office spick and span.  Being new to the area , without a trading history or reputaion to rely on and without an established network for  hound ******* I am going to be short of two things instructions and any idea on  value.   I  really find it hard to believe  Smile  Please would  be happy for the cleaner to trawl through his dead files and details drawers, photocopy all they could and pass it on to me simply because we are mutual customers.  Zoopla handing out this info to vendor and competitors is a fundamental breach of the duty of care that ought to exist between supplier and customer.

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                1. Robert May

                  Not that sort of  Canining Ros!

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                2. smile please

                  The thing is cleaners are 10 a penny AND easily replaced only RM and Z offer the product they do and cannot be replaced with ease (as OTM are finding out).

                  If you were to open a new office tomorrow Robert, Would you not advertise on either RM or Z?

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                  1. Robert May

                    I am shocked that you think RM and Zoopla have such a positive influence over your business  you are happy to condone their passing of your data to third parties. I really don’t think you would let anyone steal a  packet of envelopes on a regular and consistent basis let alone the reputation, goodwill and competitive edge of your business
                    Knowing what I know, honestly I would not. I know a better way and have proved it to some of the toughest and most sceptical agency audiences.  The last two properties I have sold were instructed on the basis that the agent did not use Rightmove. If an agent is reliant on the vagaries of the internet to find a buyer it tells me that they can not  have done the basics of agency first.

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                    1. smile please

                      I think if you launched a new agency today, you would have problems if you dont advertise on at least one of RM or Z.

                      Of course i am speaking about my region not a nice little village which you maybe.

                      And i guess it depends on required income….

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                    2. Robert May

                      It is funny, I was discussing this with an Agent this morning before your question came up, I was able to demonstrate how an all portal search quite easily top trumps single site searches on  Rightmove, Zoopla or OTM  and why Agents are not desperate for a system that brings agents together but one which naturally identifies the good  agents from the bad.

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                    3. smile please

                      Sorry Robert, you lost on that last post.

                      Can you explain?

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                    4. smile please

                      *** Sorry LOST ME, not you lost!***

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                    5. Robert May

                      My fault, I am talking as is  I would  return to agency. What I should of said was I can  give you a system that highlights to the public what you are good at i.e sells you, not your clients property. It is your job to sell property, mine is to give your agency every advantage over your competitors.  There is no point trying to flog a system that changes Agents or Agency before they are ready. OTM has failed to deliver  what I  was suggesting as  necessary change in 2011 but  AM had to be given a chance of  delivering what Ian Springett promised.  He has done a fantastic job but has delivered a thin version of the Generation 3 portals that already exist. In my opinion that isn’t enough so either have to find a way of working with AM or competing with it.

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                    6. smile please

                      Okay…. Think i got it, you are suggesting a marketing tool to sell use as an agency as opposed to a portal selling a property?

                      Is this idea in development or is it out there for all to see?

                      Please dont tell me its a review site 😉

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                    7. Robert May

                      It isn’t a corruptable review site Smile.  I am hesitant about giving too much detail away on here for the obvious reason of the idea being mis-understood and implimented badly by someone else. I  do have code I want to test and  need to contact a variety of early adopter and critic sites before coding something that fails to deliver.

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                    8. smile please

                      Look forward to hearing more in the future!

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  4. Paul H

    I really do not understand why Zoopla has not listened to agents feedback on this, we can’t all be wrong. There are just simply far too many opportunities for the figure to be wrong and in most cases it usually is. It’s a prime example of tech thinking it knows better than agency.

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    1. smile please

      They dont care about the agents.

      They know its a good USP even if it is c**p, Joe public like it and they use it and return time and again to use it, helps drive traffic.

      None of the reps endorse it to agents but its things like this that get Z the traffic.

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      1. Robert May

        It isn’t a good USP if it is causing your paying customers difficulties and causing their ( Agent customers)  fees to be eroded by bottom feeding competition who are using the tool as a vendor schmooze valuation system.
        I am surprised  no-one has picked up on the   Sold for stats on OTM, like the  ‘Pick a nice price’ valuations systems, feeding comparable data to an Agent’s competition of any standing is the very last thing any competitive agent  would condone.  Opening and handing the dead file archive to any competitor is just daft!

         

        I am not stalking you Smile, you are just making points worthy of discussion.

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        1. smile please

          Ha ha i like discussion Robert, opens up new areas i have not thought of previously.

          In the last two weeks there was a news story on this site and a number of posters slated it. To me it is the best thing to happen to agency in years. I kept my powder dry, did not mention a word as for me i want to be the only one in my patch to embrace it. The more i saw posters slate it the more confident i grew in it!

          Sorry back to Z and their val tool! – yes its c**p but Z are a business and need to drive traffic to their site and this helps. As otm are finding at the moment its hard to engage with the public and keep them.

          Having a website or portal with content is not enough these days you need the public to buy in and connect. Its all about interaction.

          As useless as the tool is the public use it, and no other portal has it so they come back time and again. You know yourself members of the public look at portals / agents websites months before they sell. in this time they are building up awareness.

          I look at it as a loss leader for them similar to a supermarket. Tesco value beans YUK! but at 2 pence a tin gets customers talking about the supermarket, gets them in the door then sell further items. Its clever marketing but in Z’s case annoying for us agents!

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          1. PeeBee

            “In the last two weeks there was a news story on this site and a number of posters slated it. To me it is the best thing to happen to agency in years. I kept my powder dry, did not mention a word as for me i want to be the only one in my patch to embrace it. The more i saw posters slate it the more confident i grew in it!”

            D@MN – now you’ve got me intrigued!

            Archive – look out – here I come! ;o)

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            1. smile please

              Peebee, if you find it, keep it to yourself!

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              1. PeeBee

                I was most likely one of the slaters!

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  5. PeeBee

    Not the first time I have posted this – but I make no apologies for repeating myself.  From ‘Zoolpa User Comments’ –

    ” “Many thanks for the revised valuation with which I am much happier!” 
    Magda, Submitted: 19th May 2014″
    ’nuff said, methinks.

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  6. Andy W

    At the end of the day, any Agent using those Zoopla estimates to put a serious valuation on a property should maybe consider their position…You should know your local market which you (should) interact with personally daily better than a national portal that just scrapes up the stats. I understand that for vendors it can be quite misleading though, and though Z have a small ‘?’ next to each estimate which brings up a clear disclaimer, maybe this should be a bit clearer/more noticeable to save confusion.

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    1. Woodentop

      Anything that requires a disclaimer  ….. says it all about how truthful it is. We are constantly fighting the inaccurate valuation tool with customers and they are loved by web only portals who have no idea of local property values and often get the property marketed cheap for a quick sale.

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