Redfin is launching a new feature today that allows prospective home buyers and sellers to better estimate a home's value. Anybody who has ever searched for a house or tried to sell one is probably aware of Zillow's Zestimates – even though they are mostly automated and can't quite take aspects like locations, view, noise, neighborhood and other details of a house into account. With its new “Home Value Tool,” Redfin aims to bring the human element back into the equation by allowing users to select a number of homes that they believe best compare with the home they are trying to get an estimate for.
Redfin is mostly aiming this tool at home owners who are trying to sell their houses, but there is no reason why home buyers couldn't also use it to get an estimate for the house they are trying to buy. As Redfin told me, the reason the company is mostly focusing its marketing efforts on sellers right now is due to the fact that, with the real estate market picking up again, so many people are thinking about selling their homes for the first time in years. Obviously, though, the Home Value Tool will also be very useful for buyers.
Redfin notes that giving users more input into the evaluation process allows them to “select the homes that best compare to their own, which is important because a home's actual value is often affected by factors that are difficult for computers to capture, such as a certain view, traffic noise, or unique architectural features.”
Users simply enter the address of the home and confirm a number of details about the house (bedrooms, bathrooms, etc.). After that, Redfin will automatically show two comparable homes, but – most importantly – users will be able to select five comparable homes that have recently sold nearby. Redfin previously offered home estimates, too. The company, however, believes that this new tool is easier to use, and while the previous version asked users to remove homes from an original list of 10 homes, the new tool allows users to build up a list of comparables. The new tool also homes in on a single price estimate instead of giving the home owner just a range.
The company stresses that this is obviously not an official appraisal, but rather meant to give its customers a starting point to understand their home's value.