Zillow® launched its most sophisticated and accurate Zestimate® home valuation in history, using real-time data and computer vision to identify and value improvements to individual homes.
The Zestimate revolutionized real estate when it launched in 2006, using facts from public records to estimate a home's value. With the recent update, it can now, in a sense, "see" in photographs features that humans would instantly understand, such as curb appeal and natural light. 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.
The launch incorporates winning ideas from Zillow Prize®, a two-year, $1 million data science competition. For homes listed for sale, the error rate is now less than 2%, meaning half of all Zestimates fall within 2% of the home's eventual sale price. Sellers, listing agents, and homeowners provide photos for the Zestimate to evaluate. Homeowners can claim their home on Zillow to edit, add, or remove photos at any time in just a few simple clicks.
While the Zestimate can't interpret home features by name, the way a human would, the image recognition model can classify patterns in the pixels of photographs and correlate them to home value. For example, while the human eye sees tile or granite countertops, the Zestimate identifies two different pixel patterns.
"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."
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