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How can a $300k home be posted as recently sold at just $32k?

Hi, I'm planning to move in SF very soon for work, and I seen so many homes reported as "Recently Sold" at very cheaper prices than the "zestimate" ones.
I post a link here, just for an example:
http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/766-Harrison-St-UNIT-807-San-Francisco-CA-94107/111927917_zpid/
Thank you
  • December 19 2011 - Yerba Buena
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Answers (3)

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Simple answer... No it didn't sell for $36.5k.

More detailed answer...
It is not always easy to read transaction data from the county records title changes.  Obviously, Fidelity National Title made the same "error" as other data collectors since they record the transaction between the same two parties a year earlier for much closer to an REO sale value.  It could have been a "refinance", or a equity line of credit, or a construction loan for an improvement, or a loan modification, or adding a family member to the title, or transfer to a trust for estate planning.

Zillow does not use these kinds of transactions for the modeling, so it does not have an impact on the estimates.  So, in this case, the estimate is probably more reliable than the last sold price.

When you see these kinds of discrepancies in the "sold" price you should use the "flag" next to the transaction on the home details page to have it looked into and perhaps corrected.  The 5/21/10 transaction for $232k makes a lot more sense, but is missing from the home details page.

You can expect about one out of 1000 homes on Zillow to have these kinds of transaction discrepancies since you are depending on people at independent data collection companies to properly interpret the title changes in the county records and to properly transcribe the numbers.

Yes, there are some that say that a 99.9% accuracy rate on the copying of data is totally unacceptable.  But then most of those people that complain about such accuracy didn't even get 78% correct on most of their math tests in school.
  • December 20 2011
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Here is the correct sale info according to Fidelity National Title. The sale was for $36,500 for a studio unit. You can see it sold a year earlier for $232K. This has to be a special circumstance. Also notice the seller and buyer are the same for both transactions.


Prior Transfers

Recording Date 05/16/2011
Price $36,500
Coporation Deed
First TD N/A
Buyer Name M., JIM
Seller Name FIRST CITIZENS BANK & TRUST COMPANY

Recording Date 05/21/2010
Price $232,000
Coporation Deed
First TD $174,000
Buyer Name M., JIM
Seller Name FIRST CITIZENS BANK & TRUST COMPANY

  • December 19 2011
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I'm guessing that is a typo, and the place sold for $365,000. Zillow's data is sketchy, at best. They suffer from garbage-in-garbage-out syndrome, and bad algorithmia.
  • December 19 2011
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