Can Zillow Make Me Move?
“To stand still is to lose, to move is to gain, to change is to grow.” — Gene E. Megiveron
Jeanine has been a faithful Zillow user since it launched over a year ago. Every couple of months she checks our Zestimate (their take on our home market value) and is quick to report its worth. Much has been written about its overall accuracy but that’s not the focus of this post.
My visits to the site are far less pure and way more voyeuristic: as in populating the zestimator with the addresses of friends, relatives, ex-girlfriends… if you’re in my little black book and own a home, well, I know how much zest you’ve got in real estate. What’s not to like about Zillow?
In December, they transitioned from what they called “read-only” mode to “read-write”. That’s geek-speak for enabling homeowners and real estate professionals to make edits to the site. For example, they added a feature called “Make Me Move”. On their blog, the concept is explained:
“Think about a price that would entice you to hand over the keys to your home and move. We think it’s a unique and creative way for homeowners to test the waters and gauge interest in their home, even if it’s not actually on the market. Interested home shoppers can then contact them via an e-mail ‘anonymizer’ to get the conversation started. We’re excited to see what happens by facilitating this type of contact for the first time. We invite homeowners to post a Make Me Move price on their home.”
According to Eric Morath at The Detroit News, “The feature allows a Zillower whose house is not on the market to set a walk-away price. The feature is popular in areas such as San Francisco where potential buyers can’t find homes in the neighborhood they want to live.”
Last month, Zillow made the cover of Fortune with What’s Your House Really Worth and the writer, Jeffrey M. O’Brien did his own Make Me Move experiment. He writes, “We all have our price. Judging by some of the Make Me Move listings that have cropped up in a few months, that price is often ridiculous. But Zillow officials say the average Make Me Move figure is just 17 percent over the Zestimate. That’s a relatively modest premium, so users are clearly taking the feature seriously. Which got me thinking. My wife and I have entertained thoughts of moving. We’re not restless enough to go through the stress of interviewing agents, listing our home and opening it to visitors. But if someone made the right offer, sure.”
He continues, “I’ve paid attention to the market since we moved into our 101-year-old two-bedroom, two-bath Victorian in San Francisco, so I had an idea of what our house could sell for. I looked at the Zestimate, sized up my place against comparable homes, factored in the hassle of finding a new place to live and came up with my own Make Me Move figure. Sure enough, it was pretty close to 17 percent above the Zestimate. Not wanting to sell myself short, I nudged it up and put my house on the market in the most passive-aggressive way possible. All in the name of research. My price? A cool $1 million.”
While we’re talking research and passive-aggressive traits, I hope that Zillow will add another feature called Make My Neighbor Move. We have one fellow in particular that I would nominate and if someone made him move, then my Make Me Move price would increase immediately.
In the meantime, we will have to decide between the kitchen remodel or becoming a “read-write” Zillow user and entering a Make Me Move price. I’ll keep you posted. And no, I’m not going to publish my address here… this site is crawling with voyeurs. Present company included.