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Zillow.com & The ruse of Appearance

December 15th, 2006 at 09:35 am

This is an interesting exercise.

3 houses - zillow.com

What do you think about the person who owns the first place? The 2nd? The 3rd?

What do these 3 homes all have in common???? They all were purchased for about $290k, in recent years.

The first one was our condo we bought for in 1999 - $260k. The second is our current home - it is actually not accurate - our house is bigger than the stats- but it cost $290k in 2001. The third is a friend who paid $300k for a house in 2004.

#1 - If we lived in San Jose the appearance would be I guess we couldn't even afford a house. It may even appear we were renters. (Talking about appearances people coming to our front door). From a zillow perspective, must be rich, eh? A condo worth $450k? Must be a luxury condo? (Hardly - LOL).

#2 - The appearance is pretty much we are rich when people come to our front door. OR if you glance at zillow. (Or maybe mortgaged to our eyeballs). The truth is we got in early enough we didn't have to pay that much... The truth is we made a LATERAL move from a condo with no yard or garage, in a so-so neighborhood, to a pretty nice, luxurious house.

**Keep in mind when we bought both of these properties the "sky was falling" - a lot of people waiting for the market to crash...

#3 - Our friends with these starter homes are paying more than we did for our house. PLUS our interest rate is probably lower to boot. The local impression is probably that are lucky they own a house. Must be upper-middle-class. An appearance from someone outside of the area would be very different though.

I hardly know anyone on 2-incomes renting or owning a house more than 2-3 bedrooms, so that is why I consider a 1300 sf house large overall in the "small house" discussions. 900-square feet 2-bedrooms are the norm here...

Appearances are so deceiving.

On zillow.com you can actually see what people paid, most of the time. But even so gives you no inkling about if they could truly afford their house, how much was mortgaged and such... How much help did they get from relatives? I have a lot of friends right now getting into houses through inheritance here (3 in the last year).

But there you have it - 3 homes bought for about the same price in the last few years.

I just find it extremely interesting because I am always meeting new people and they often are initmidated when they see our house. As I get to know them, 9 times out of 10 they are paying a lot more than us to rent or mortgage a much more modest house. It is all so relative I guess. I grew up thinking we would never afford more than a condo, if that. So I think people are generally surprised how down-to-earth we are. But I guess that is the problem with assumptions and judements. They often amount to squat. Especially in such a volatile housing market...

(I actually hadn't looked up our old condo in a long while and almost fell over to see it was up past $450k. WOW!!!!! We left SJ refusing to pay $500k+ for a starter home. Ridiculous! Now you would lucky to get in a condo for that much I guess...)

3 Responses to “Zillow.com & The ruse of Appearance”

  1. Ima saver Says:

    I am glad I bought my first house at a young age. It has helped me out so much, cause I kept trading up. When people look at our house they think we make a lot of money, but we don't.

  2. Gruntina Says:

    I don't understand how the third home can have 3 bedrooms and it's only 1,025 sq. ft. But at least there is enough land to expand the home on.

  3. monkeymama Says:

    IT was built in the 50s - very small!

    You are from the Bay - you haven't seen these tiny places????? I have a friend renting one in San Jose - she has 3 kids and 2 bedrooms - oy vey.

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