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You are estimating my home at 261 thousand, yet I am getting taxed for 267 thousand.

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July 11 2012 - Killeen
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Profile picture for sunnyview
Sorry I missed the fact that you are in Texas. Texas is a non disclosure state and often the values on Zillow are wacky as a result even for very similar homes since basic sales information is sealed.

Honestly, I wish that Zillow would not post Zestimates for nondisclosure states like Texas and just include medians by zip code instead. I have looked to buy in a number of different Texas communities, but have found the real numbers to be far off in most cases.

I'm not sure what to advise you about changing that, but the good news is that all of the lenders and agent in TX I've spoken with are well aware of the issue.
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July 12 2012
Profile picture for user6379805
According to the appraisal reveiewer, the U.S. guidelines for Real Estate appraisals were not followed.  He was very surprised.  I did expect him to say that.

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July 15 2012
Profile picture for Pasadenan
Yes, I see that I should have said "selecting a loan officer that selects out of the area questionable appraisers and appraisal companies.

No use filing a complaint.  If the U.S. guidelines for Real Estate appraisals was followed, it is a "valid appraisal", even if "not useful".

That is the nature of estimates in general, and why there was so much problems during the bubble with appraisers coming up with imaginary numbers just to get the loans to fund and the sales to close.

As I've seen no references for the specific property, it is not possible as an outsider to comment on any of the estimates.  As you stated the house is larger than typical for the area, I wouldn't doubt that the value would be less than $71 per square foot; but coming up with a more fined tuned number requires more input data.

By the way, for FHA loans, the appraisal follows the house.  I have no clue if that might apply to VA loans or not.
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July 15 2012
Profile picture for user6379805
So the appraisal reviewer called me and told me that the appraisal was junk.  He said there were so many things wrong that he didn't even know where to start.  He said that I should choose a mortgage company that uses reputable appraisers, and said that I should report the appraiser to the Appraisal Licensing Bureau place, which I have written down in the other room.  So, my plan is to use a different mortgage company and report her.  Also, she isn't even from around my area.  Oddly, there are many appraisers in my area, and she is from a distant city. So, not understanding that either.
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July 14 2012
Profile picture for hpvanc
"I have absolutely nothing to lose by getting another appraisal because there is no way it could come in less that the incompetent one," I would not count on it.  I know several people who have had that belief and gone that route only to get a lower 2nd appraisal.  See what is said in the appraisal review, weigh the information carefully, but still don't count on a higher 2nd appraisal.
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July 14 2012
Profile picture for user6379805
I didn't choose the appraiser because you can't choose an appraiser when refinancing.  An appraisal management company has to.  But, I did choose an appraiser who I really don't know anything about to do an appraisal review for $100.00.  I have absolutely nothing to lose by getting another appraisal because there is no way it could come in less that the incompetent one, but that is another $400.00 which will be worth the money though.  But anyhow, I will wait to see what he says, than decide what to do about the situation.  Getting an appraisal license will not help me because I can't refinance with my own appraisal.  I know what my house is worth.  I just have to have the official paperwork done by officials to back it up.  So, like I said, I will probably just pay for another appraisal because I will definitely get the $400.00 back in the higher appraisal amount. 

Here in Central Texas, the appraiser decides the selling price.  You see, most homes are VA, which means $1.00 down only.  So, of course, people are going to pay only $1.00 over having to put a down payment.  So, whatever the appraiser says is what the banks will loan for, and not more, but yes, less, of course.  So, this gives the appraiser about 98% in deciding the selling price and 100% in deciding the refinancing cash-out price.  That's kind of ridiculous to have that much power, but who says life is fair. 
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July 14 2012
Profile picture for Pasadenan
If you would like to become a licensed Real Estate Appraiser, no one is stopping you... You just take the courses, and take the tests, ....

Yes, an "appraisal" is still only an "estimate", but in the U.S., there are specific guidelines that Real Estate Appraisers are to use.

Zillow doesn't offer appraisals, only an AVM.
Zillow doesn't use "comparables" at all for their estimates, as they use non-linear learning models of all recently sold arms length non-distressed ownership housing units in the same count.  It also factors in the distance.  But in non-disclosure States like Texas, they model to "list prices" instead as the sold prices are not "disclosed" in the Public Records.  All Real Estate agents and Appraisers get those "sold" numbers from the local multiple listings though, as it is published there for "members only".

If you have an objection to an appraisal you paid for, it is your own fault for selecting the appraiser.  Select 5 more appraisers and pay for 5 more appraisals.  Throw out the top and bottom, and then average the rest.  There is no such thing as a "free" appraisal.
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July 13 2012
Profile picture for user6379805
I did have an appraisal, and on that note, since you're so smart, I disagree with it.  She picked 4 comparable properties that average out to be $80 a sq.ft.  I totally agree with all that, but then she gave me only $64. a sq.ft, stating that I get no higher appraisal for having a larger house and garage because there is no house she can find that sold recently that is larger.  Yet, one of the comparables did have higher sq. ft. and went for more than $80 sq. ft.  I looked up stuff, and it appears that the comparables have to follow specific guidelines, and I do agree with her work there.  But, then I learned that the actual appraised value given is just whatever number the appraiser wants to put.  Her justification was only what I told you.  It makes no sense to appraise my house for even less than the smaller houses, when she put in there that they all have the same age, quality, amenities, etc.  So, I question her abilities and am thinking about taking the appraisal to someone who can look it over and tell me what they think.  Thus, my issue is not the comparables, but how the heck she came up with such an undervalued amount.  My neighbors have all told me that my house is worth at least $300,000 from what the other neighbors' houses are selling for.  We all have the same builder, same age, and my house is probably the largest. 
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July 12 2012
Profile picture for Pasadenan
"5) Federal Tax policies that encourage the shipping of jobs overseas to avoid taxes, safety requirements, environmental protections, and labor burden" -

Forgot to mention.... also to avoid paying wages at even the mandated "minimum wage" levels.

You take that money out of the local economy and local, state and federal governments... and put it in the hands of the billionaires, and of course you are going to have a "recession".  Billionaires have no intention of spending their money locally, nor paying any more tax than they have to.

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July 12 2012
Profile picture for Pasadenan
By the way, 30% increase over a 10 year time span is only 2.66% annual "inflation".  Comparing this to the inflation rate as reflected in the Consumer Price index, this would be about right, since the dollar has been intentionally devalued by about that much.  But in many cases, the bubble corrections have over-swung.  And in general, housing prices in the U.S. don't keep up with the inflation rate, except during bubble rises.
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July 12 2012
Profile picture for Pasadenan
If they didn't sell the house, it is not the "value".  It is only an "estimate". 

Believe what you want, but the values did not rise 30% presently compared to a decade ago.  Yes, the bubble peak was more than 30% above a decade ago, but the bubble peak was imaginary paper equity that has all disappeared already.  Those that bought at bubble peak anywhere in the U.S. are typically in a partial financial bind, having all their down payment equity disappear, as well as often being "underwater" on their loans, sometimes making refinancing at the present record low mortgage interest rates difficult.

I know many people that bought in Texas during the bubble peak and lost money when they had to sell because of a required move.

If you really want to have an idea of present market value for a specific property, you should pay for an appraisal.
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July 12 2012
Profile picture for user6379805
Well, I get my information from my friends and neighbors.  They tell me that their houses have gone up in value nearly 30% over the last ten years, and that they are still getting these results.  So, I don't care who you quote, I know what I see. 
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July 12 2012
Profile picture for Pasadenan
Median List price per square foot in Killeen TX over time:


There has been no "increase in value".

Unfortunately, Zillow didn't collect data back far enough to see the "bubble" and the "correction".
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July 12 2012
Profile picture for Pasadenan
"But, here in Texas, we are NOT part of the recession" -

It has absolutely nothing to do with a "recession", it was a "housing bubble" created intentionally by bad U.S. housing and lending policies!  Texas didn't escape the housing bubble, and they are not escaping the bubble correction either.  Any Realtor that tells you otherwise is intentionally trying to use the "non disclosure" laws to hide the information from you.   That is their "job", to sell for as much as they can regardless of actual market conditions.


Yes, the recession across the nation was caused entirely by:
1) the required correction of the housing bubble
2) Bad policies on MBS packaging and investments
3) Overuse of Derivatives to insure each  other over the losses on MBS
4) Congress repealing the Glass-Steagall Act so that financial institutions would be able to take huge financial risks at the Government's expense
5) Federal Tax policies that encourage the shipping of jobs overseas to avoid taxes, safety requirements, environmental protections, and labor burden.
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July 12 2012
Profile picture for Pasadenan
"I have been talking to refinance companies and they say they use your website to predict what an appraisal will be" -

Well, any of those companies that did that are doing something "illegal" and should be reported to Zillow so that Zillow can sue them!

The Zillow terms of use are extremely clear, the data and estimates are for PERSONAL USE ONLY!  They are not for commercial use at all, and especially not for use by lenders!

Read the FAQ "what is a Zestimate"

It says the same thing; lenders should not be using Zillow's AVM for any purpose.  Besides, they all have their own AVM's, or pay for service for a "commercial" AVM, such as one of CoreLogic's products, so they have no need to use Zillow's, even if Zillow's is "slightly" better.
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July 12 2012
Profile picture for user6379805
I agree it would be the case if values have depreciated here.  But, here in Texas, we are NOT part of the recession, and values have climbed very substantially over the last 10 years.  I do feel that Zillow is a very helpful website, but to say it has nothing to do with appraisal value is not correct because I have been talking to refinance companies and they say they use your website to predict what an appraisal will be.  So, your website's information carries a lot of weight.  Even though it's not an official appraisal, lots of professional decisions are made in part with this information. 
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July 12 2012
Profile picture for wetdawgs
"tax assessment lower than appraised value".   As Zillow isn't offering appraisals, but instead numbers generated by a computer formula, that may well be the case.

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July 12 2012
Profile picture for sunnyview
"It is often said that tax assessments are lower than actual value, and I have always seen this to be true. "

It can be true, but in my area it is not. Our tax assessor has been very slow in adjusting values back down from bubble values in 2007 so often when people buy a house their taxes drop since the value is lower than the assessed value.

Zillow paints with a broad brush. If you want to know your house's value in the market today do not rely on it or your tax assessment. Call a local agent for a CMA or ballpark value. Most are happy to help.
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July 12 2012
Profile picture for Pasadenan
So?  Tax assessment has very little to do with market value, and is only redone at most once per year.  Zestimates are recalculated nominally 3 times a week based on new data that comes in.  Texas is a "non-disclosure" state, so they are not modeling to sold prices there.  I believe they are modeling to list prices instead.

See the FAQ: "what is a Zestimate".
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July 11 2012
Profile picture for wetdawgs
Zestimates are computer generated estimates.   Tax assessments are a different number and not surprisingly the tax assessor wishes to squeeze every penny out of the home owners!        You can learn more about the differences in the FAQ "What is a Zestimate?"
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July 11 2012
 
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