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Zillow + Trulia = Tru-Zestimate?

July 28th, 2014 by Bill Collins Leave a reply »

Zillow To Acquire Trulia

As anticipated, it was announced yesterday that Zillow will be acquiring Trulia (assuming no opposition from antitrust regulators) for $3.5 billion in stock with plans to operate both entities separately while reaping substantial cost savings.  Combined, the two companies account for approximately 61% of the traffic for online home listings. Perhaps to fend off antitrust concerns, Michael J. De La Merced of the N.Y. Times reported yesterday that Zillow’s CEO Spencer Rascoff noted in a phone conversation the highly fragmented nature of the real estate industry with thousands of local websites along with other national competitors.  The Zillow press release yesterday also noted that the combined revenue of Zillow and Trulia last year represented “…less than 4 percent of the estimated $12 billion real estate professionals spend on marketing their services to consumers each year”.

We wonder: Is it possible that Zillow will change the name “Zestimate” to “Tru-Zestimate” in an attempt to gain credibility for their often (rightfully) criticized (by appraisers and others) automated estimates of a property’s worth?

We also wonder about the impact on fees charged by Zillow/Trulia to real estate professionals in the future.  Coincidentally, many appraisers and real estate brokers have just received a notice from LoopNet announcing a 31.7% subscription price increase to access their Property Comps database slightly more than two years after their $860 million acquisition by CoStar Group.
Just asking…

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Recent Real Estate Reports

Yesterday, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) released its report on pending home sales for June.  The NAR’s Pending Home Sale Index (PHSI) was down 1.1% from May and fell by 7.3% from June 2013.

The PHSI for the northeast was down 2.9% month to month and 3.2% year to year; the south PHSI was down 2.4% month to month and 4.3% year to year; the Midwest was up 1.1% month to month and down 5.5% year to year; and the west was up 0.2% month to month but down 16.7% year to year.

The NAR now projects that existing home sales will be down by approximately 2.8% this year in comparison with 2013.

Last week, the NAR released its report on existing home sales for June.  Some of the findings:

~Total sales (inclusive of single family dwellings, condominiums and co-ops) rose by 2.6% from the previous month but were down by 2.3% from June 2013.

~Housing inventory increased by 2.2% from the previous month and was 6.5% higher than in June of last year.

~The median sale price of $223,300 was up 4.3% from June of 2013.

~Sales of distressed homes accounted for 11% of June sales (8% were foreclosures and 3% short sales), down from 15% of sales in June of 2013.  Foreclosure sales transferred at an average discount below market of 20% while short sales were reported to sell at an 11% discount.

~The percentage of first time buyers in June was 28% which is the average for the past year and significantly below historical norms.

~Properties sold faster for the sixth consecutive month (44 day median time on market) with short sales (120 days) and foreclosures (54 days) taking longer than non-distressed property sales (42 days).

Links to the two NAR news releases are found here: Pending Home Sales Slip in June

Existing-Home Sales Up in June, Unsold Inventory Shows Continued Progress

Last week, Zillow released their Second Quarter Real Estate Market Report which projected that ½ of the major metro areas in the U.S. will not reach their pre-recession levels for at least three more years.  Zillow noted that while prices in the 2nd Quarter increased by 6.3% year to year, the rate of appreciation was declining and values nationally remained 11.3% below their 2006/2007 peak.

It’s noted that the S & P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index for June will be released later this morning.

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One More Time: 5 Random Tweets to Make You Smile

1 ) He broke into song because he couldn’t find the key.

2 ) How about the appraiser who fell through a screen door and strained himself.

3 ) Where do you find giant snails? On the ends of giant’s fingers.

4 ) How do I set the laser printer to stun?

5 ) I plead contemporary insanity.

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Appraiser Help’s 2014 Directory of AMCs and National Appraisal Companies is Now Available!

To help appraisers evaluate how AMCs will work for their appraisal practices, we have compiled this expanded directory of AMCs and National Appraisal Companies, listing complete, contact information and other details for each listing.

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Appraiser Help has Released its 2014 Directory of AMC’s and National Appraisal Companies. Click the link above to learn more and to download your copy today!

Rates & Dates

Freddie Mac, the Mortgage Brokers Association (MBA) and HSH Market Trends reported either unchanged or slightly declining mortgage interest rates in their most recent surveys. 

On July 24th, Freddie Mac reported that 30-year fixed-rate mortgages remained at 4.13%, unchanged from the previous week. They also noted that last year at this time the 30-year rate was at 4.31%.

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported on July 23rd (for the week ending July 18th) that 30-year rates with conforming loan balances ($417,500 or less) were unchanged from the previous week at 4.33%.  The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $417,500) fell from 4.23% to 4.21%.  Rates for FHA backed mortgages also moved downward, from 4.04% to 4.03%. 

Mortgage applications increased by 2.4% from the previous week with the share of refinance applications as a percentage of all applications increasing to 54.4% from 53.6% the previous week

On July 25th, HSH Market Trends reported that 30-year mortgage rates declined to 4.18% from 4.22%, matching its lowest level in 2014. Rates for FHA-backed mortgages also dropped, from 3.94% to 3.92%.

Additional information from Freddie Mac can be found by going to: Primary Mortgage Market Survey PMMS – Freddie Mac

Additional information from the Mortgage Bankers Association can be found by going to their site at: Research and Forecasts – Mortgage Bankers Association

Additional information from HSH can be found by going to: HSH.Com

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Ask Angie

We would first like to congratulate our most recent winner: Petersburg, Virginia appraiser Grover T. Martin Jr.  He was the first to answer correctly that Voltaire was the author of the quote "Common sense is not so common"; Oscar Wilde said "Be yourself, everyone else is already taken”; and George Carlin quipped "The reason I talk to myself is because I’m the only one whose answers I accept”.

Today’s Questions:

1. Who said: “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”

a) Carl Sagan
b) Martha Stewart
c) Stephen Hawking
d) Sheldon Cooper
e) None of the above

2. Who said: "So the pie isn’t perfect? Cut it into wedges. Stay in control, and never panic.”

a) Martha Stewart
b) Alexis Stewart
c) Rachel Ray
d) Nancy Reagan
e) None of the above

3. Who said: “Cut my pie into four pieces, I don’t think I could eat eight.”

a) Yogi Berra
b) Yogi Bear
c) Groucho Marx
d) Harpo Marx
e) None of the above

The first person to respond with the correct answers wins a choice of one of the following:

One Free Regular Listing on

A Free Copy of the 2014 Directory of Appraisal Management Companies (Available to Members of and FREE!)

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Tell us what you think!

We invite your responses to any of the issues raised in this newsletter. Please e-mail us at: with your thoughts!

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We really hope you find our newsletter to be informative!  If you have any input on future topics for discussion, please email me your questions and I will do my best to address them in the next issue.  If you want to look back at past issues you can see our archive at


Bill Collins, Appraiser Help Inc.

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