Zillow Talk: The New Rules of Real Estate by Spencer Rascoff and Stan Humphries is a book I grabbed not because I was driven to find out more about real estate but because I saw it available to checkout from my library in audiobook and it seemed mildly interesting. Turns out it was more.

Here is the premise: The folks that brought you Hotwire turned around and brought you Zillow. Big deal, right? Well, it is a big deal from the standpoint of BIG DATA. Yes, the real power of Zillow isn’t that it is a great place to search out homes. It is because of all the data collected. This book takes a look at that data and attempts to suss out some useful information.

Zillow Talk suggests things like what pricing strategies result in the quickest and/or fastest sale of your real estate. It also analyzes adjectives used in listing to see which words increase sales prices and which ones lower your take-home. The problem with all this data is the classic statistical weakness… you know the saying “Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics.”

That said this book has a lot of extremely useful information derived from their data but also takes some leaps that give me serious pause. More than one of the conclusions sounds more like correlation than causation. Either way, this is a good book and contains a host of useful info about the changing real estate market.

Yes, the book is sprinkled with a Liberal political slant to many of their conclusions, but intelligent readers should be able to see through those. The book does make a really strong case for eliminating the Mortgage Interest Deduction. That alone is worth the time to read this book.

by Chris Doelle

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