Zillow Talk

By Spencer Rascoff and Stan Humphries

How do you spot an area poised for gentrification? Is spring or winter the best time to put your house on the market? Will a house on Swamp Road sell for less than one on Gingerbread Lane? The fact is that the rules of real estate have changed drastically over the past five years. To understand real estate in our fast-paced, technology-driven world, we need to toss out all of the outdated truisms and embrace today’s brand new information. But how?

Enter Zillow, the nation’s #1 real estate website and mobile app. Thanks to its treasure trove of proprietary data and army of statisticians and data scientists, led by chief economist Stan Humphries, Zillow has been able to spot the trends and truths of today’s housing market while acknowledging that a home is more than an economic asset. In ZILLOW TALK, Humphries and CEO Spencer Rascoff explain the science behind where and how we live now and reveal practical, data-driven insights about buying, selling, renting and financing real estate. Read this book to find out why:

-It’s better to remodel your bathroom than your kitchen
-Putting the word “cute” in your listing could cost you thousands of dollars
-You shouldn’t buy the worst house in the best neighborhood
-You should never list your house for $444,000
-You shouldn’t list your house for sale before March Madness or after the Masters

Densely packed with entertaining anecdotes and invaluable how-to advice, ZILLOW TALK is poised to be the real estate almanac for the next generation.


The crunching of the mountain of data that the Zillow team is sitting on forms the core of this book. If you’re not into number crunching (even when presented in a super interesting way), this book is not for you.

But if you get irrationally excited by the parsing of a Mt. Everest of real estate information, this book is SO for you!

Zillow Talk is not like many business or informational books you’re used to reading because a guided, overarching narrative is not there. But the book is an almanac of trends and truths gleaned from going deep into the data and it makes for an interesting read.

I’ve been in the real estate industry for almost four years so it’s a bit hard for me to judge how much of the information is novel or particularly revealing to the average person. A lot of the information, I already knew, but I also was able to learn some things I didn’t know.

My favorite part was the section on gentrification. In a city like San Diego, with high home prices and neighborhoods continually emerging as “the next big thing” it was really interesting to read the analysis of how you can (maybe) predict if a neighborhood might be gentrifying and how to get in while home prices are still low.

I also enjoyed the sections that, while less practical, were enormously interesting. The sections the dealt with how house numbers and street names affect home prices. You can’t change those things about a house, sure, but it’s a nice tidbit to break out around the water cooler.

Among other tidbits picked up from this book: women every so slightly edge out men as the better real estate agent, why people rebuild their homes in hurricane-prone areas, the most volatile housing markets in the US, the enigma of New York City real estate, the magic number 9, supserstitions, and a prediction for the future of US real estate. Wow, does this book pack a lot in!!

For a fun, insider look, at one of the biggest industries in America, pick up a copy of Zillow Talk!

(A copy of this book was provided to me for free by the authors)


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