Background: A gentleman based in California called in. He had seen our data in the Home Values section on one of our client’s sites and had been tracking three properties over a period of time. Recently, he noticed that all three went up in value since January 2009. QUESTION 1: Why do values on properties change?
ANSWER: Values are constantly changing to reflect market conditions. Every day thousands of new transactions, new listings and new economic information is added to our system. Our valuations are not actual home sale values – they are valuation estimates. We encourage anyone to contact their local real estate agent or appraisal company to obtain a professional and complete valuation. Finally, we do welcome these inquiries as it gives us a chance to correct and improve our data in case of actual errors.
Below are three of the main reasons Onboard’s Home valuation estimates change:
- We may have received and processed new data for the entire valuation segment. An example might be a new county taxroll with updated assessment values or tax amounts.
- We may have received localized information that impacts a specific address. An example might be a handful of recent sales or foreclosures to homes near the property.
- Between valuation cycles, we “timeshift” values in our database along the trend-line of values for that valuation segment. For example, if prices had risen at a steady .5% per month and our Home Valuation API request arrives two weeks into the monthly bulk delivery cycle, the returned value would be shift +.25%.
SUPPLEMENT: Our product support team researched these three properties and at first glance they did look suspicious. Given the current economic downturn, we took a closer look at these homes with prices rising rather than falling. Our findings showed that during the last three months, additional data became available related to these properties which we were able to incorporate in our valuation models. This was the primary reason that valuation estimate numbers changed from the original estimate. It was also noted that while the three properties got new estimates, their confidence scores also changed, they all went down. What does this mean? Well, simply put, it means that we felt more confident with the values in January than the new values we show in April based not only on the availability of the information but also its consistency. As a marketplace becomes more volatile, statistical models provide less certain results. As time goes on and new data is available, additional changes to value estimates and confidence scores will occur.
QUESTION 2: Can Onboard’s valuation models be accessed and modified by Real Estate Agents or Home Sellers?
ANSWER: Onboard works with thousands of data sources available publicly and privately. Our data is managed and maintained exclusively by Onboard employees and every change undergoes a rigorous verification process which ensures that any change to our data is – with reasonable certainty - one that results in greater accuracy, coverage or currency. Our data is NOT available to be altered externally by end users.
However, it is possible for clients to build interactive solutions based on Onboard content that would allows for real time modifications for the end user. This would not result in a permanent change in the underlying Onboard content. We encourage our clients to engage us in creating great design and user friendly solutions on top of Onboard’s “raw” materials.
One last bit of info…during our research we noted that our client’s website was not displaying the confidence score which would have helped the end user better understand the valuation estimates we provide. Onboard does not have control of how our data is displayed on any website, nor do we want to. However, we are always in contact with our clients to ensure our data is effectively implemented. We passed this on to our resident relationship manager who is working with the client to add this feature.
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