Statistics Don’t Lie; Liars Love Statistics

That reminder is always timely.

This complaint to the FTC about everyone’s favorite real estate porn site, Zillow, is a bit baffling.

The information contained therein is free for all to use. Consumers do, and apparently love it. Zillow hasn’t solicited commercial business just yet, and it remains to be seen if they will. If insurance and mortgage companies rely on it for judging loans (no evidence suggests they do), they due so at their own risk.

Zillow claims the algorithm they use contains no demographic information, and that makes sense- how would they know?

Zillow’s data comes form a constantly a shifting landscape (in California, that happens literally on occasion), and is not (or claimed to be) accurate. Used simply as a guide, it is helpful. And fun.

This coalition claims that:

“(an) improper appraisal could force a homeowner to borrow more than the value of the home and put money invested in the home at risk, according to the group. It urged the F.T.C. to start an investigation and permanently restrain Zillow from providing home value estimates.”

Caveat Emptor.

But really, what are they saying? Do folks in poor areas who decide to cash in on their equity overextend themselves past the value of their domicile?

Are they suggesting all disadvantaged people (or people living in ‘disadvantaged’ areas) are prone to max out their credit, and spend beyond their means?

That sound’s like a racist stereotype.

Folks, we gotta learn the proper use of the tool. Educate!

And, ultimately, who is to say what any property is worth?

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