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Zillow in perspective

March 28, 2009

Re "Curse you, Zillow!," Opinion, March 21

As a certified real estate appraiser, I take issue with Meghan Daum's apparent panic over "Zillow values" for several reasons.

First, it's no secret that Zillow uses averages and statistics to produce its home values, with little or no human reasoning whatsoever. This is unrealistic -- not only when values are low but when they are high. With no human, preferably an appraiser, to interpret what these averages mean for the value of each individual home, the chance of error is substantial.

Second, the only time anyone should care what a home is worth is when they sell or refinance. Value is hypothetical and speculative, and shouldn't produce negative feelings, especially toward a home you once loved when it was "worth more." Ignoring what is happening around you, in high or low markets, can protect your emotional economic health. It can keep you from pulling too much money out when values are high or walking away when values are low.

Americans seem to have amnesia when it comes to high and low real estate markets. The only certainty is that when there is an extreme high or low in values, it will be followed with an opposite extreme. So, get ready, Meghan. The market will rebound soon.

Elisabeth

Bernhart-Chatfelter

Lake Hughes

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