Congratulations to The Goodhart Group

Posted On July 22nd, 2014 by Thomas Hallex | No Comments


The Goodhart Group Named One of America’s Top Real Estate Professionals


by Catherine Probst

McEnearney Associates, Inc., is proud to announce that The Goodhart Group, one of the D.C., area’s most successful real estate teams, was ranked among the top 250 Agent Teams in the 2014 The Thousand report, an annual nationwide awards ranking published by REAL Trends in partnership with The Wall Street Journal.

The Thousand designees are recognized as the top one half of one percent of more than 963,000 Realtors nationwide. The report ranks residential real estate agents and teams into four categories: Top 250 Individual Agents by Sales Volume, Top 250 Individual Agents by Transaction Sides, Top 250 Agent Teams by Sales Volume and Top 250 Agent Teams by Transaction Sides.

For the second year in a row, The Goodhart Group ranked among the Top 250 Agent Teams by Sales Volume with a volume of $86 million in 2013.

“The Goodhart Group has been able to achieve success year after year because they always have their clients’ best interest at heart,” says Dave Hawkins, executive vice president and managing broker in the Alexandria office at McEnearney Associates. “Much of their business comes from repeat business or referrals from clients, proving that the secret to their success really is service.”

Founded by Sue Goodhart and her husband, Marty, more than 20 years ago, The Goodhart Group has received many awards over the years including #1 Realtor at McEnearney Associates, #1 Realtor in Alexandria and Top 20 Agents in Northern Virginia. Licensed in Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland, the team prides themselves on being community experts on real estate and lifestyle trends through the metropolitan region.

Sue Goodhart began her career in real estate in 1992 after an extensive career in sales and management including fourteen years as a business owner. She has been McEnearney Associates’ Top Producing agent since 2003, selling more than $40 million in real estate each year.  In 2006, the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors honored Sue with membership in the Top Twenty Residential Sales Agents’ Club.

She was recognized for her achievement in both sales volume and number of homes sold. Sue has also achieved lifetime status as a Top Producer with the Northern Virginia Board of Realtors. In 2008, The Goodhart Group was named the Small Business Philanthropist of the Year by Alexandria Volunteer Bureau.

“We are thrilled to be named to The Thousand and included among the top one half of one percent of nearly one million Realtors worldwide,” says Goodhart. “Even with the market’s challenges, it is gratifying to be able to help our clients find their perfect home, as well as sell their properties quickly for the highest price possible.”

More information about The Goodhart Group can be found on their website:


When House Hunting, How to Assess a Neighborhood

Posted On July 17th, 2014 by Thomas Hallex | No Comments


Considerations include schools, of course, but also walkability, upkeep and other factors.

Watch out for red flags, such as foreclosures or vacant homes, when deciding whether a neighborhood is right for you.

By Geoff Williams


When you buy a house, you aren’t just buying a house. In a way, you’re buying a neighborhood. After all, you’ll likely choose a home partly because it’s close to work, the schools are great or it’s walking distance to restaurants and stores – or maybe you love that it’s nowhere near retail establishments.

In fact, you could argue that picking the right neighborhood is more important than picking the right house. The last thing you want is to buy property in a place everyone is trying to leave. So if you’re looking for a home for your house, here are some things to consider.

What to look for. If you’ve been focused on your dream house and not your dream neighborhood, the most popular areas tend to be ones that offer “an instant sense of community to those relocating there,” says Fred Forgey, director of the real estate development program at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. If community is important to you, Forgey says you should think about these five factors:

  1. Aesthetics. An attractive neighborhood indicates the residents care about it.
  2. Affordability. Sure, you want a cheap house, but you also want to be able to afford the cost of living in the neighborhood.
  3. Safe environment. Nobody wants a mugger or sex offender as a neighbor.
  4. Easy access to goods and services. Can you make a quick run to the bank or grocery store, or will every day be a headache behind the wheel due to traffic congestion or construction?
  5. Walking distance to goods and services. Even better, ditch the car. If exercise and a sense of community are important to you, find a house near the establishments you’ll be frequenting.

Michelle Sagatov, a real estate agent at McEnearney Associates in Arlington, Virginia, strongly agrees with the last point.

“Walkability has become one of the biggest must-haves in Arlington. We are seeing neighborhoods that have a stronger walkability factor than others have lower days on market, and their average neighborhood price range has increased immensely,” she says.

But schools, Sagatov says, are still “the No. 1 thing families are looking at these days.”

Online research. You probably use websites like,, or to search for a new house.

But there are neighborhood-related websites and apps as well. Here’s a sampling of what’s available:

  1. This website contains mostly neighborhood statistics and information, but it also has data on more than 100 million U.S. homes (type in the street address of your prospective house to get the scoop on the whole area). Wondering how many foreclosures are in the area or if there are any environmental concerns? This is your site.
  2. Read up on crime, school and real estate reports for the neighborhood you’re considering.
  3. Here, you can find reviews written by parents and students of schools in the neighborhood you’re considering. You can also find test scores and other data that may help you decide if this is a school you want your kids to attend.
  4. This site offers a commuting calculator. Plug in information like miles driven and how many miles per gallon your car averages, and the calculator will give you an average cost of what your commute costs may look like in a month and in a year.

Red flags. As you’d expect, spotting a neighborhood on the decline isn’t rocket science.

“Red flags include things like a new highway being built [in close proximity to the house], an increased number of short sales, foreclosures and vacant properties, but even the number of rentals in an area can be cause for concern,” says Lisa Frushone, a real estate agent at Lisa James Otto Country Properties, a boutique real estate firm that serves the well-heeled communities of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and Hunterdon County, New Jersey.




Tips on Moving

Posted On July 15th, 2014 by Thomas Hallex | No Comments



7 Ways to Save Money
on a Move 




By LEAH INGRAM      @suddenlyfrugal

Each year nearly 36 million people move. The most common reasons for moving include finding a better place to live and taking a new job.

July happens to be one of the busiest moving months. This is especially true for families with children who want to get established before the school year begins.

If you’ve got a move in your future and you don’t have a relocation package picking up the tab, you’re probably looking for ways to save money on that move. Here are 7 tips on how to save money on a move.

1. Get more than one quote.
Just like with any professional you may hire to do work around your house, if you decide to hire a mover, you need to get quotes from at least two, possibly three different companies. Being able to compare services offered and dollars charged for those services makes you a smarter consumer.

2. Declutter before packing.
Why pay to move something that you don’t need, never really liked, or aren’t interested in using in your new home? Have a yard sale. Sell stuff on Craigslist. Or, says Rina Battiata Kunk, an agent with McEnearney Associates in Washington, D.C., donate what you no longer want. “Give clothes, furniture, and other items to various charities that happily receive them and distribute them to those in need,” she says. Don’t forget to get a receipt so you can ask your accountant about writing off this donation on next year’s taxes.

3. Save money on packing materials.
“Use clothing and newspapers to wrap the breakables rather than buying bubble wrap,” suggests Yulia Vargas with Fenwick Keats Real Estate in New York City. Natalie Frazier, also with Fenwick Keats, suggests using bath towels and blankets as ready-made padding and wrapping materials. Another idea? Use garbage bags instead of boxes to pack clothing. And one more freebie: “Mattress stores recycle the plastic covers they come in,” says Shannon Vallentyne of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty in Seattle. So if you want to protect your mattresses during the move, ask these stores if you can take the plastic covers off their hands for free.

4. Be creative with how you get boxes.
Ask your local supermarket or liquor store if they have any boxes you can take for free. Find out if friends, colleagues, or relatives have moved recently and might still have some moving boxes in their garage that you could use. “Look on listserves, Freecycle, Craigslist, and neighborhood lists or Facebook pages for posts about free moving boxes,” says McEnearney Associates’ Rina Battiata Kunk.

5. Consider using reusable containers.
If you already have items stored in reusable containers, keep them that way. Just run a few rounds of packing tape around the container to ensure it doesn’t open with the move. Then once you get to your destination, you’re already organized, thanks to these containers.

6. Have everything packed when the movers get there.
My husband and I recently had to move his mother to an assisted living facility. She had limited funds to pay for a mover and was told the move would cost less if we packed everything ahead of time. So we did. “Most movers charge by the hour,” says Sheila Salvitti, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Premier Properties, “so the more you can have done ahead of time, the more money you will save.” This was true with my mother-in-law’s move, which ended up costing in the hundreds rather than the thousands.

7. Be flexible with your moving day to save the most.
Not surprisingly, most people want to move on a weekend so they don’t have to take off time from work. That means that renting a moving truck or hiring movers for a weekday move can save you right off the bat. Also, if you can hitch a ride on someone else’s move, you can save as well. Ask a moving company if they have any trucks going to your location, and find out how much extra it would cost to make a stop to drop off your belongings. Oftentimes, it can be cheaper than booking your own move.


5 Steps to Sell a House That Won’t Sell

Posted On July 8th, 2014 by Thomas Hallex | No Comments


Are potential buyers eyeing but not buying? Try these strategies to sell your home fast.

If your home has been on the market for a while but hasn’t sold, consider retaking the listing photos and making any necessary fixes.

By Geoff Williams

The housing market is faring much better than it was a few years ago, but sales have slowed from 2013. If that “for sale” sign has been on your front lawn a lot longer than you expected, you may be wondering: What do most homeowners do in this situation?

It’s best to consult your real estate agent, assuming you have one, but you may also want to consider the following suggestions to sell your home quickly.

Lower the price. This is the most obvious suggestion, but price is often the problem. “Often sellers make the mistake of factoring in what price they need in order to sell the property,” says Rob Anzalone, co-founder of Fenwick Keats Real Estate, a New York City residential brokerage and property management firm. “Need is desire and isn’t a factor in establishing market value.”

Another reason sellers price their home above the market value, Anzalone says, is because they’re afraid they’ll sell for too low of a price and then look like a sucker. But he adds: “It’s very difficult to underprice a property. If the price is too low, buyers will bid it up to market value with multiple offers.”

As for how low to go, make it count, says Margaux Pelegrin, a Realtor at Philadelphia-based Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, Realtors. “A $1,000 price reduction won’t be effective on a $400,000 listing,” she says. “The price should be reduced a minimum of 2 percent.”

She adds that one large price reduction is always better than lowering the price in small increments.

Deep clean. Hopefully this is the first thing you did before putting the house on the market, but maybe you didn’t clean as thoroughly as you thought. “Cleaning up the interior and exterior by painting, replanting or updating carpet can make a big difference,” says Leslie Piper, a housing specialist with Another benefit is that you’ll pare down your personal belongings and you’ll “make the home look larger,” she adds.

Also consider keeping your pets out of the house during the selling period. “If the pet smell is apparent, it can be a real turnoff to prospective buyers,” Piper says. She suggests removing them from the home when prospective buyers are wandering through the house, and, if possible, boarding them at the house of a friend or family member.

And pay special attention to the home’s entrance, suggests Jennifer Darby Metzger, a broker with ERA Justin Realty Co., in Rutherford, N.J. “Can you put down some fresh mulch to tidy up the curb appeal?” Metzger asks. “Sometimes just taking out old rugs, giving a fresh coat of paint and beautifying the entrance can help the house sell.”

Consider finding a new real estate agent. If you get the sense that your agent never has time for you or your home has been on the market forever, it may be time to work with someone else.

“It’s imperative that when listing your property to go with a local expert – a broker who is knowledgeable and has a solid marketing plan,” Anzalone says. “Often sellers will go with the broker that discounts their fees the greatest.”

That’s understandable, since you want to keep as much profit as you can, but real estate agents exist for a reason. The good ones know what they’re doing. The bad ones, Anzalone says, may not have the budget or expertise to market your house effectively.

If you decide to make a switch, be sure to dissolve your contract. You don’t want the agent still working to sell your house while you’re working with someone else.

Fix what needs to be fixed. This is easy to do if there’s a glaring problem with your home, but what if there is something subtle you haven’t noticed?

Liz Lucchesi, an agent with McEnearney Associates, Inc. Realtors, based in Alexandria, Va., says she and her homeowner clients keep a feedback spreadsheet for this sort of problem. If you had a number of potential homebuyers marching through your house and eyeing but not buying, you can start to look for patterns.

“Is there a consistent deficiency noted by each and every buyer who has come in the door?” she asks.

If so, fix the problem, and let everyone know about the changes, Lucchesi advises. “Take pictures of the changed areas that were addressed and post them every and anywhere,” she says. “Facebook, Twitter, the multiple listing service and the [home selling] websites.”

Look at your photos again. That’s right – the photos on the websites where you’re showcasing your house. “These days, most people begin their house hunt on the Internet. First impressions are everything when it comes to homebuying, especially online. The more photos, the better,” says Erin Sartain, marketing and training director for NexTitle, a title and escrow agency based in Bellevue, Wash.

She stresses: “Turn on the lights. Too often we see listing photos that are taken inside and not a single light is turned on.”

If you do that, she says you might as well describe your home as a cozy cave. “All small lamps, overhead lighting, porch light – turn them all on for photos. Not only does it add warmth to a room, but it allows people to see the room they are looking at.”

She suggests scrutinizing your photos, too, making sure the toilet seat is down in a bathroom photo, the bed is made in a bedroom picture, clutter is removed from the counters, there are no animals in the photos and cars are removed from the driveway. “You’d be amazed at how often these things are missed,” she says.

Wait, no animals? Who would have anything against Fido? Besides, couldn’t a few animals make you seem more likable to a pet owner buying your home?

Maybe, but you will also scare away other buyers, Sartain says. “It could be an instant turnoff for someone who is allergic. Some people see animals and immediately think, ‘Oh, great, the carpets have been peed on.’ It’s just awkward to have animals in real estate photos,” she says.

And, really, isn’t selling a home awkward enough?


Pools in Fairfax County

Posted On July 1st, 2014 by Thomas Hallex | No Comments

Make a Summer Splash!


School is out and the temperature is steadily rising to scorching heights. When it gets too hot to enjoy typical outdoor activities what do we do? GO TO THE POOL OF COURSE! With summer officially in full swing it’s time to whip out those bathing suits. Fairfax County is filled with public pools that are fantastic for families and friends alike.  Be sure to bring your Styrofoam noodles, old waterlogged pool balls, goggles, and the ever so important, sunscreen. What better way to escape the heat than to sit back and relax in cool, refreshing water.


Bull Run Regional Park, home of the new Atlantis Waterpark
7700 Bull Run Drive, Centreville | 703-631-0552
• outdoor • water slides • baby pool • snack bar

Having hosted its grand opening June 13, the new Atlantis Waterpark is packed with Ancient Greece-themed water fun for the whole family, from a huge play structure with a 1,100-gallon dumping bucket, slides, waterfalls to a main pool and wading pool with a shell slide for children 6 and under.

Pohick Bay Regional Park, home of the new Pirate’s Cove Waterpark
6501 Pohick Bay Drive, Lorton 703-339-6102
• outdoor • water slides • diving boards • baby pool • snack bar

Pirate’s Cove is geared toward the younger swimmers in your family, with a play structure equipped with a dumping bucket, slides and waterfalls. It includes a sand play area filled with buried treasure. In addition to the waterpark, Pohick Bay prides itself on being one of the largest, outdoor freeform pools on the East Coast.

The Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole
1400 Lake Fairfax Drive, Reston | 703-471-5415
• outdoor • water slides • baby pool • snack bar

Geared toward elementary-aged kids, this Western-themed swimming hole has slides, floatables, sprays and a lazy river.

Upton Hill Regional Park, Ocean Dunes Waterpark
6060 Wilson Blvd, Arlington | 703-534-3437
• outdoor • water slides • waterfalls & squirters • snack bar

Enjoy a day at the beach! Ocean Dunes is loaded with fun features for adults and kids. Ocean Dunes includes a 500-gallon dumping bucket, water slides, waterfalls and squirters! Visitors will find themselves amidst dune grasses and the feeling of being at the beach, but without the drive!

Source: Northern Virginia Magazine


A Picture Perfect Home

Posted On June 27th, 2014 by Thomas Hallex | No Comments


Tips from the pros on boosting a home’s curb appeal.

By Marilyn Campbell


Realtors say this Oakton home exemplifies ideal curb appeal, a critical factor when selling a home. Photo courtesy of TruPlace


When Realtors Marsha Schuman and Betsy Schuman Dodek drive up to a home to show it to a prospective buyer, they know that they have only one chance to make a good first impression. Potomac-based Dodek and Schuman of the Schuman Team of Washington Fine Properties say a home’s curb appeal matters.

“When we think of curb appeal we think of the lawn and landscaping, front door, windows, roof and how it all looks,” said Dodek. “Buyers want to buy from someone who has taken really good care of their home and that translates in to curb appeal.”

Schuman added, “If things are not nice on the outside, then [potential buyers] wonder what the house will be like on the inside.”

REAL ESTATE AGENTS SAY buyers want to purchase a well-cared for home, and the exterior aesthetic of a home creates that impression. Whether you’re planning to put your house on the market or would just like a clean and fresh exterior to welcome you home each day, local real estate experts offer advice on enhancing a home’s exterior.

McLean-based realtor Chris Pritchard of McEnearney Associates suggests starting by critiquing your own home. “Stand in front of your house and take a look,” she said. “Walk up the driveway, ask yourself what you would want to see if you were shopping for a house.”

The yard should be pristine and vibrant. “Trimming, mulching and planting some colorful plants are key,” said Pritchard.

“Add color with flowers, pots with plants, choosing things like geraniums and pansies,” said Dodek. “Adding color just makes such a difference. It makes the yard pop.”

Consider safety. “Is the yard hazard-free?” asks Dodek. “It needs to be freshly mowed and mulched with dark mulch because that makes the greenery pop. Make sure your bushes are trimmed and proportionate. Look at trees to make sure they aren’t blocking the size of the house.”

“One of the next areas we look at are patios, walkways and fences,” continued Dodek. “Do they need repairs? Is there loose mortar?”

McLean Realtor Ann McClure of McEnearney Associates says that a home’s exterior should be well-lit. “You need good looking and functional lighting which should be on in the evening.”

Examine the entrance. “Take a look at the front door,” said Dodek. “Does it need painting? We had a recent listing and we painted the door red and added new hardware and a kick plate and that made it stand out. That is something that is very cost effective to do.”

A clean appearance is critical. “There should be no algae stains on the roof,” said McClure. “The homeowner should make sure that if they have siding that it doesn’t need power washing.”

“Power wash driveways, walkways and even the house sometimes,” said Pritchard. “The house should be washed before it is painted. Do any kind of painting or touch up painting of siding trim and doors that needs to be done. Sometimes you don’t have to paint at all if you do power washing. All homes get dusty. Sometimes paint fades and needs repainting.”

“Another easy thing is the windows,” said Dodek. “Remove screens and wash the windows. You want your house to sparkle inside and out.”

Pritchard said, “Curb appeal also goes to having a fence in good shape: washed and painted or washed and sealed. The home’s deck should be in good shape. More often than not a deck should be power washed and painted or stained or sealed or whatever the appropriate finish is.”

Minor touches can make a major impact. “Take a look at your mailbox,” said Dodek. “Is it upright? Is it tilted? Does it need to be painted?

Don’t hide your amenities. “If you have a swimming pool, we get them to remove the cover,” said Dodek. “There’s nothing more beautiful than a beautiful blue swimming pool.”


Independence Day

Posted On June 25th, 2014 by Thomas Hallex | No Comments


Fire Up The Backyard BBQ Grill


A Sizzling Fourth: Summer Grilling

This Fourth you may find yourself doing a little backyard barbecuing. From simple hotdogs and burgers to seasoned chicken and marinated steaks, grilling pros and cookbook authors Jamie Purviance and Elizabeth Karmel know a thing or two about great grilling. Here are a few tips to achieve excellent results every time.


Makeshift Grill Brush
 - No grill brush? Crumple a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil until it’s the size of a navel orange and pick it up between locking chef tongs. The tongs will act as the handle. Holding onto the ball of foil, brush away. (EK)

Direct vs. Indirect Cooking - Can’t decide whether to use a direct or indirect method? If the food takes less than 20 minutes to cook, use direct heat; if it takes longer, use indirect heat. (EK)

Picture Perfect Burgers - Burgers can puff up in the middle as they cook, making the tops rounded and awkward for piling on the toppings. To avoid this, press a little indentation into the top of each raw patty with your thumb or the back of a spoon. Then, when the center pushes up, the top of each burger will be relatively level. (JP)

Sear Steaks to Perfection - After you marinate your steaks, pat them dry on both sides. Wet steaks don’t sear; they steam. Also, resist the temptation to lift the lid and turn the steaks over and over. You develop the richest flavors in steaks when you leave them alone as much as possible, turning them just once or twice. (JP)

Prep Smart – To avoid soaking bamboo skewers each time you need them, soak a big batch once for an hour or so, drain, then freeze them in a plastic bag. When it’s time to grill, pull out as many skewers as you need. (JP)

Surefire Skewers – Kabob ingredients, such as chicken pieces, will stay juicier longer if they are touching one another (but not crammed) on the skewers. (JP)

Great Grilled Veggies – Lightly coat veggies in olive oil before grilling to help prevent sticking and drying out. Vegetables such as asparagus, bell peppers, sliced squash, and onion slices are best grilled by direct method. (EK)

Know When to Sauce – Be careful not to sauce ribs too early, especially if you are using a sweet sauce, as the sugars will burn and threaten your ribs. Sauce them during the final 30 minutes of cooking. (JP)

Know When It’s Ready – To check the doneness of a bone-in chicken thigh, pull one of the thickest ones from the grill and cut into the underside. If the color of the meat near the bone is still pink, put it back on the grill until it is fully cooked. (JP)

Super Simple Glaze – Glazes give a glossy sheen to cooked food and add subtle flavor. Melted jam is a glaze in its simplest form and works for both sweet and savory foods. Brush glaze on food at the end of the cooking time or as soon as the food comes off the grill. (EK)

Let It Rest – Giving cooked food time to rest is the key to juicy, perfectly cooked meat. The resting process allows the juices to redistribute themselves throughout the meat. I prefer to let my meat rest uncovered, because the covering causes the food to steam and can make the golden brown crust or skin soggy. (EK)

Jamie Purviance, grilling pro and author of Weber’s Way to Grill: The Step-by-Step Guide to Expert Grilling

Elizabeth Karmel, grilling pro and author of Taming the Flame



Drones in Real-Estate

Posted On June 19th, 2014 by Thomas Hallex | No Comments



Drone Videography Featured in Tour of $3.5M Bethesda Home

By Valerie Paschall

Most of the time when drone footage comes up in the context of local real estate, it’s on account of its bold affront to legality.

However, this $3.5 million home that realtor Bret Brown is selling is in Bethesda, so the aerial shot he took via drone of the home and its backyard pool isn’t something that’s going to land him on the FAA’s hit list.

In the video above, Brown actually narrates the trip through the house, paying lip service to everything from the fireplace to the winding driveway. However, it’s the ability to see the skylights and patio from overhead that makes the video pretty cool. For a more traditional look at the six bedroom home, there are listing photos after the jump.

Drone House


Article from WAV Group

Posted On June 12th, 2014 by Thomas Hallex | No Comments

The Triad of Consumers, People, and REALTORS

by VICTOR LUND on JUNE 12, 2014

StandOffThere were a few very interesting articles in the Washington Post this week. Unlike industry commentary about the Zestimate, this one took place in public. The Washington Post stirred the pot a bit, as only the politically divided would do so naturally. The battle was epic.

At 5:30 AM, David Howell of McEnearney Associates published a piece titled “How Accurate is Zillow’s Zestimate? Not very, says one Washington-area agent.

At 5:31, Stan Humphries, Zillow Chief Economist responded in his article titles “How Accurate is the Zestimate? Zillow says the tool is helpful when used the right way.”

You really do not need to read the articles unless you are new in real estate.  Real estate agents know the Zestimate is not accurate. It is just the best that math can produce. The frustration that real estate agents have is that the consumer is not keenly aware of the accuracy of the Zestimate. Because consumers typically check with Zillow before talking to an agent, real estate professionals are constantly starting conversations of home value around the Zestimate. Real estate agents hate that, and REALTORS® hate it even more.  So what do you do about it?

About David Howell

David Howell is a REALTOR®. In fact, he is the past President of one of America’s great REALTOR Associations – the Northern Virginia Association of REALTORS. He was also the Chairman of NVAR’s Professionals Standards Committee. He was also a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Regional Information System or MRIS. He is licensed in Washington DC, Virginia, and Maryland. He currently serves McEnearney Associates Inc REALTORS® as the Executive Vice President & CIO.  He has been a real estate broker since 1984.

The Media Play

I do not have the inside skinny on this public seeding of articles, but the fact that one landed exactly one minute after the other landed tells me that this was planned. I know that MRIS has a great relationship with the Washington Post. Clearly Zillow does also, or the Washington Post has learned from politics that if you are going to allow one side to bash the other, let the other side have a chance to respond. A good ol’ fashioned debate.

Stan Humphries of Zillow held his ground nicely, and reminded folks that the Zestimate is not for making housing decisions. The Zestimate tells this story in its name – Zillow + Extimate = Zestimate. It is not an appraisal, etc. Moreover, Mr. Humphries reminds everyone that you can look up the accuracy of the Zestimate down to the county level on this page.

If you are in real estate, you should memorize this URL. You will use it a lot. Moreover, it is a good idea to print out the Zestimate accuracy for your county before a listing presentation. It tells you a number of things.

1. Zestimate Accuracy by Star Rating – 4 stars is good, 1 star is bad

2. Number of Homes on Zillow – they show how much property that they have to draw numbers from in the county. If the number of homes on Zillow is low compared to the total number of households in the county, the Zestimate is normally low.

3. Homes with Zestimates – if the home has never had a transaction, there may be a chance that it does not have a Zestimate – I have never asked a Zillow insider about why some homes do not have Zestimates.

4.  % of homes within 5% of sale price

5. % of homes within 10% of sale price

6. % of homes within 20% of sale price

7. Median Error

Humphries points out another interesting point. If you look at the original list price to sale price – real estate agents are not any more accurate than the Zestimate when it comes to pricing homes. We all know the story there – original list price is related to a pricing strategy rather than the price a listing agent believes that home will transact at. Regardless – the fact is true that the original list to sale price is no more or less accurate than Zillow’s average accuracy rate of 6.9%.

Humphries did an excellent job of pointing out that the Zestimate is a great place to start but clearly states that “great agents provide services far beyond just pricing a home…..and priceless peace of mind. A Computer will never replace that.” And concludes with “The reality is we don’t live in a black and white world in which agent’s price opinions are infallible, and a computer-generated data is inherently untrustworthy. There is ample room for both, and both help the consumer in search of an honest deal.”

What we observed

MRIS is more than just an MLS and NVAR is more than just an Association of REALTORS. I do not know which or if either was responsible for seeding this discussion, but I would not be surprised if that was the case. What we see here is a great metropolitan newspaper educating consumers about issues in real estate to reset their understanding of the value of their most precious asset – their home. David Howell was eloquent in stating his case about the Zestimate and Stan Humphries supported Howell as much as he defended his product and his company.

Most importantly, consumers have been invited into the discussion and this has great value. WAV Group published research that the Washington Post also picked up about the accuracy of listing content on Zillow and other third party websites for precisely the same reason. The consumer needs to know third party websites are a great place to get a start on understanding real estate, but when it comes time to transact, you get the best information from a professional, especially when that professional is a REALTOR®.

More MLSs and Associations should seed articles in their local newspapers like this one. And, it is a good idea to invite Mr. Humphries to respond.  Make it a conversation that educates the consumer and everyone wins. Zillow is not going away. They are getting bigger and better.

Incidentally, McNearney Associates sends a direct feed of their listings to Zillow, but does not enhance their listings on Zillow.

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How Accurate is the Zestimate?

Posted On June 11th, 2014 by Thomas Hallex | No Comments