At the end of June, Zillow announced that its home valuation tool on its site — Zestimate — just got much more accurate by using “real-time data and computer vision to identify and value improvements to individual homes.”
The company, that launched in 2006, makes it easy for home buyers to peruse houses on the market or off the market with tools that estimate home’s current values. The new update provides a look into home improvements and allows for more accurate, up-to-date home valuation through the Zesitmate tool. Although Zestimate is not an official appraisal, as stated by Zillow, it can give homebuyers an insight into what the home’s current valuation may fall near. The company calculates home values for more than 100 million homes nationwide, providing consumers map tools, sorting tools and ways to find their perfect new home.
“With (the) update, it can now, in a sense, ‘see’ in photographs features that humans would instantly understand, such as curb appeal and natural light,” Zillow wrote in a press release. “The new Zestimate uses neural networks and computer vision to distinguish between high and low-end finishes and to incorporate the value of features like updated bathroom fixtures, fireplaces, and remodeled kitchens. The Zestimate also now uses real-time data from for-sale homes, including list price and how long a home has been on the market.”
According to Zillow, the project idea came from Zillow prize, a two-year, $1 million data science competition. According to Zillow, the new Zestimate and for sale prices of homes falls within an error rate of less than 2 percent.
“The new Zestimate was inspired by the way the human brain interprets scenes, objects, and images,” said Stan Humphries, Chief Analytics Officer and creator of the Zestimate. “It’s a big leap forward, because it means the Zestimate can now understand not just a home’s facts and figures, but its quality and curb appeal. By training neural networks using the millions of home photos on Zillow, the Zestimate now values the features people are most proud of – like new granite countertops, a remodeled bathroom, or a meticulously landscaped backyard.”
According to Zillow, the Zestimates are calculated by using data from the county and tax assessor record, direct feeds from multiple listing services as well. Zillow also provides homeowners the ability to update their home information and upload photos to sell their homes faster.
Zestimate even uses AI technology to analyze photos and calculate a home’s value. “Millions of consumers visit Zillow every month,” Zillow wrote. “Most understand that the Zestimate is an estimate of the value of a home, and that it should be used as a starting point. When combined with the guidance of real estate professionals, the Zestimate can help consumers make more informed financial decisions about their homes.”