New Home Valuation Web Site

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The Arizona Republic is offering a new, free web site to find out the value of your home. Street Scout uses highly localized information. Catherine Reagor, a real estate reporter for the Arizona Republic, will tell us more about the site.

Video: The Colorado River has carved over 600 miles of canyons in southern Utah and northern Arizona. As sublime as these chasms are, to travelers they pose a seemingly insurmountable problem. Just how do you get to the other side? A highway marker on U.S. 89 A commemorates a successful effort that for nearly 60 years did just that. Lee's ferry. Mormon pioneer John Lee came here in 1871, established a ferry service across the Colorado River at the only natural point for 600 miles. Lee, seen here seated on his coffin, was executed in 1877 for his role in the mountain Meadows massacre when 120 immigrants heading to California were murdered in Utah. The ferry operated for 52 more years transporting thousands of hikers, horses, wagons, even small automobiles across the river. Only the railroad and finally in 1929 the Navajo bridge made Lee's ferry obsolete. Today the original Navajo bridge is reserved for pedestrians while the new Navajo bridge built beside it in 1995 Caters to cars and trucks. While the ferry is long gone, the name remains. Lee's ferry is now the terminus for thousands of awestruck sightseers resting on the mighty Colorado River.

Ted Simons: The Arizona Republic is out with new website that promises real-time home values, neighborhood profiles and other information designed to serve everyone from buyers and sellers to agents and homebuilders. Joining us now is the Republic's real estate reporter Catherine Reagor who has been working on this thing for well over a year.

Catherine Reagor: Less than a year and a half. It's been a pleasure because I have covered real estate for a long time. If we can get you the most accurate information, beautiful photos --

Ted Simons: Give me a definition. It's called Street Scout. What is that?

Catherine Reagor: Street Scout is a real estate and neighborhood website. We offer evaluations, the most accurate in Arizona. We offer neighborhood information. We have broken neighborhoods down with their zip codes. I know real estate but I don't know great things to do or the best hikes. We give it to you. We're going to have crime and census data, then we also have homes for sale. We created a new listing. Really clean. It's just straightforward.

Ted Simons: Compare it to Zillo, compare it to realtor.com.

Catherine Reagor: First thing I would say is we're local. We talk about this Arizona and metro Phoenix has the most accurate real estate data in the country. It's cleaned up. We have great public records, great public records. So we start with that. They have been working on this for years. They have had the chief statistician from Intel come in. Mike Orr has consulted on it. Really great experts. They are up to the minute making sure we're as accurate as we can be. Real estate is a local business. This is a local business. Why not come together and produce something local?

Ted Simons: Sounds like you're saying Zillo or realtor.com because they are not local, they may not really understand?

Catherine Reagor: I did evade that question. I'm sorry.

Ted Simons: I'm used to it.

Catherine Reagor: Careful not to bad mouth the competition. They are national. Zillo is very open, not as concerned about being accurate. Every market is different. A flip in the neighborhood affects it, foreclosure. In our sales data we can get it timely that day to update it.

Ted Simons: Can you show us a hallway -- a home for sale. Say I'm looking for a home for sale within a certain price range. Whatever we do. You type in -- are you typing in the address?

Catherine Reagor: I'm typing in the address. You'll see the little wheels spinning over here. It's going to pull up an address for me. Right? It's going to do that for me. I may have started -- type in an address. It's going to help you with that because addresses can be tricky. There we go. There's our address. We're going to hit get report. This is the homepage. From there you see the report. This is our valuation estimate. Full disclosure. This is what we do. All the different things we look at. Then with that as you scroll down the page, you're going to find the last sales date, price per square foot, square footage, lot size and your comps. Here's a box so you can compare that house to your comp for each house.

Ted Simons: Whether it's big or small, has a pool --

Catherine Reagor: Yes. You can scroll down. The first is the house itself for comparison. Then you have all the comps. Doesn't show a lot of -- these are updated as of the week. So it's not a lot of sales here. That will show you. There's your comparable sales and valuation. Unlike other valuation tools where one sale could change it, like if you sold your house to your brother for half the price you may go, my value just plummeted. We take all that into consideration. The sale is not going to pull down your comps. One that sells for twice what your house is worth is all weighted into the formula.

Ted Simons: If a relative sells it for 120,000 or 100,000, that house for sale will not feel that shock.

Catherine Reagor: You will not. It will still show up as a comparable sale and regular sales, but it will also be weeded out of the valuation model.

Ted Simons: Let's say I found that house. Watching "Arizona Horizon." Thought it was a nice looking house. I want to learn about the neighborhood. I want to learn about the life-style.

Catherine Reagor: We have -- go to the top of the page we have our neighborhoods. I'm just going to have to say our award winning photographers took these great photos. You just feel like you're in that neighborhood. We scroll down. These are just some of the top. There's a lovely -- let's do Biltmore.

Ted Simons: What about the house we just saw. Can we see that neighborhood?

Catherine Reagor: We can. We can go back. That is in Glendale. There is a link taking you to that. We have all the neighbors in the valley. You can get real estate data by zip code. These are not in alpha -- they are in alphabetical order. Sorry, we have gone back and forth on that. That is in north Glendale. This looks like it's Arrowhead. We give you a general idea what's going on in the neighborhood, what to expect, who lives there. Some maps. School map, walkability map and crime map are to come. A little bit about transportation, then we break down the areas. The one we looked at was in Hillcrest Ranch. Tells you something about that. Housing, real photos --

Ted Simons: Are those folks walking around?

Catherine Reagor: It's real. These are not staged. Shows how beautiful our neighbors are. Eclectic and diverse. Let's get the real estate data. It will tell us what the median home price is. As of now, type of sales, we'll get the biggest home sale. These are primary residents. Big sale of the week was that. Tell you a little bit about what the houses are like there. Arrowhead mansions. They have some million dollar mansions living here.

Ted Simons: They got dogs out there.

Catherine Reagor: Great photos.

Ted Simons: It's dark.

Catherine Reagor: Then we go down to things to do. For each zip code we tell you great shopping, restaurants to go, great places to hike.

Ted Simons: So there's a lot of stuff on here. Probably takes a while to zoom around. Who are you listening to?

Catherine Reagor: We really reached out. We wanted to -- if the real estate industry doesn't like it, they are not going to -- they are our experts. We have an important and big real estate industry. We reached out to top real estate agents, to of course real estate analysts, builders, developers and said, what do you think? It started because a lot of them were unhappy -- data is out there. If it's incorrect they have to spend most of their time correcting it. I know you say this on a national website. That comp isn't right. You won't get that for your house.

Ted Simons: Agents wanted something, home buyers wanted something else.

Catherine Reagor: We are getting -- we worked with them as an industry. We showed it to them early, said, give us your feedback. The zip code where D.C. Ranch is and Silver Leaf in Scottsdale where Randy Johnson just bought a house, it's a beautiful McDowell Mountains. We renamed it. We have our own Scottsdale 85255, like Beverly Hills. That is our zip code. We did that from feedback. That's how they talk in the industry. If you live there that's what you call it. We are absolutely open and constantly making changes.

Ted Simons: This is a big effort. This took a long time. We have been talking about this quite a while. Why does the Republic think this is needed?

Catherine Reagor: I was able to partner with our great expert at innovation. You know, number one it's local. Real estate is local and news is local, but also innovation is important. That's how newspapers will survive. What is really important about real estate, buying a home. To have the opportunity to work with this top data group and use our editorial expertise and photographers to create something to help people make their biggest decisions or just check out their home value or if they want to rent, we felt like we got strong support from our leadership and our executives, and felt like it was an important thing.

Ted Simons: You mentioned rental information.

Catherine Reagor: Yes. We'll tell you what it's like, if it has a lot of apartments, helps you know the vibe, the median income. You know where you might feel comfortable.

Ted Simons: I think we'll all be looking to see what our homes are worth. Congratulations. You worked very hard.

Catherine Reagor: Thank you so much. Let me know what you think about yours.

Ted Simons: Will do. Thursday on Arizona Horizon, we'll talk about the state's upcoming presidential preference election and how it fits into the national scene. We'll take a look at the Phoenix Symphony's All Volunteer Chorus on the next "Arizona Horizon." That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thanks so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

Video: "Arizona Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the friends of Arizona PBS, members of your PBS station. Thank you.

Catherine Reagor: Real Estate Reporter for the Arizona Republic

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