Month: May 2024

Introducing PTM™ – Revolutionizing AVM Testing for Accurate Property Valuations

When it comes to residential property valuation, Automated Valuation Models (AVMs) have a lurking problem. AVM testing is broken and has been for some time, which means that we don’t really know how much we can or should rely on AVMs for accurate valuations.

Testing AVMs seems straightforward: take the AVM’s estimate and compare it to an arm’s length market transaction. The approach is theoretically sound and widely agreed upon but unfortunately no longer possible.

Once you see the problem, you cannot unsee it. The issue lies in the fact that most, if not all, AVMs have access to multiple listing data, including property listing prices. Studies have shown that many AVMs anchor their predictions to these listing prices. While this makes them more accurate when they have listing data, it casts serious doubt on their ability to accurately assess property values in the absence of that information.

Three months of data showing estimates by three AVMs for a single property in Austin, TX.
Three AVMs valuing a home before and after it was listed in the MLS from’s RealEstimateSM.

All this opens up the question: what do we want to use AVMs for? If all we want is to get a good estimate of what price a sale will close at, once we know the listing price, then they are great. However, if the idea is to get an objective estimate of the property’s likely market value to refinance a mortgage or to calculate equity or to measure default risk, then they are… well, it’s hard to say. Current testing methodology can’t determine how accurate they are.

But there is promise on the horizon. After five years of meticulous development and collaboration with vendors/models, AVMetrics is proud to unveil our game-changing Predictive Testing Methodology (PTM™), designed specifically to circumvent the problem that is invalidating all current testing. AVMetrics’ new approach will replace the current methods cluttering the landscape and finally provide a realistic view of AVMs’ predictive capabilities.1

At the heart of PTM™ lies our extensive Model Repository Database (MRD™), housing predictions from every participating AVM for every residential property in the United States – an astonishing 100 to 120 million properties per AVM. With monthly refreshes, this database houses more than a billion records per model and thereby offers unparalleled insights into AVM performance over time.

But tracking historical estimates at massive scale wasn’t enough. To address the influence of listing prices on AVM predictions, we’ve integrated a national MLS database into our methodology. By pinpointing the moment when AVMs gained visibility into listing prices, we can assess predictions for sold properties just before this information influenced the models, which is the key to isolating confirmation bias. While the concept may seem straightforward, the execution is anything but. PTM™ navigates a complex web of factors to ensure a level playing field for all models involved, setting a new standard for AVM testing.

So, how do we restore confidence in AVMs? With PTM™, we’re enabling accurate AVM testing, which in turn paves the way for more accurate property valuations. Those, in turn, empower stakeholders to make informed decisions with confidence. Join us in revolutionizing AVM testing and moving into the future of improved property valuation accuracy. Together, we can unlock new possibilities and drive meaningful change in the industry.

1The majority of the commercially available AVMs support this testing methodology, and there is over two solid years of testing that has been conducted for over 25 models.

Feds to Lenders: Take AVMs Seriously

Regulators are signaling that they are going to be looking at how AVMs are used and whether lenders have appropriately tested them and continuously monitor them for valuation discrimination. This represents a change in the focus on AVMs and the need for all lenders to focus on AVM validation to avoid unfavorable attention from government regulators.

On Feb 12, the FFIEC issued a statement on examinations from regulators. It specifically stated that it didn’t represent a change in principles, nor a change in guidance, and not even a change in focus. It was just a friendly announcement about the exam process, which will focus on whether institutions can identify and mitigate bias in residential property valuations.

Law firm Husch Blackwell published their interpretation a week later. Their analysis included consideration of the June 2023 FFIEC statement on the proposed AVM quality control rule, which would include bias as a “fifth factor” when evaluating AVMs. They interpret these different announcements as part of a theme, an extended signal to the industry that all valuations, and AVMs in particular, are going to receive additional scrutiny. Whether that is because bias is as important as quality or because being unbiased is an inherent aspect of quality, the subject of bias is drawing attention, but the result will be a thorough examination of all practices around valuation, including AVMs, from oversight to validation, training, auditing, etc.

AVM quality has theoretically been an issue that could be enforced by regulators in some circumstances for over a decade. What we’re seeing is not just an expansion from accuracy into questions of bias. We’re also seeing an expansion from banks into all lenders, including non-bank lenders. And, they are signaling that examinations will focus on bias, which is an expansion from the theoretical requirement to an actual, manifest, serious requirement.

#1 AVM in Each County Updated for Q1 2024

Every quarter we analyze all the top AVMs and compile the results. Click on this GIF to see the top AVM in each county for each quarter. As you watch the quarters change, you can see that the colors representing the top honors change frequently.

GIF that depicts a changing map of the United States with colors representing the #1 AVM in each county. Each quarter, the colors change reflecting the changing #1 AVM. They change frequently and dramatically, demonstrating how dynamic AVM performance is.
Click the map to see how the #1 AVM in each county changes frequently.

The main point is how frequently AVM performance changes. That should be no surprise, since market conditions change and AVM’s have different strengths and tendencies. Phoenix has more tract housing, and some AVMs are optimized for that. Cities in the northeast have more row housing, and some models are better there. But AVMs also change – a lot. Whole new models are introduced, but every model is constantly being improved as builders add new data feeds and use new techniques to get better results (with respect to new techniques, over at the AVMNews, we curate articles about AVMs, and we highlight several hundred new research articles about AVMs every year).

Q1 Change Highlights

As ever, if you watch a part of the map, you’ll see several changes. In Q1, markets continued to grind along with higher interest rates. We saw a changing of the guard. Here are some places to watch:

  1. In Texas, most counties changed leadership. The counties that include Austin and its suburbs changed leadership. Not Dallas, but most of the counties around Dallas, and not Houston (Harris), but most of the counties around Harris County changed leadership.
  2. Much of rural California, Oregon and Washington changed leadership.
  3. Some less-populated areas had almost wholesale changes, such as Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, the Dakotas, rural Michigan, Illinois, Missouris, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and more.


  1. Things change – a lot. Don’t rely on the results from last year. Heck, you can’t even trust last quarter! We compile these results quarterly, but our testing is non-stop, and we can produce new optimizations monthly based on a rolling 3 months or any other time period. Often, 3 months’ of data are required to get a large enough sample in smaller regions, but we can slice it every way imaginable.
  2. Use more than one AVM. It’s not obvious from a map showing just one AVM in each county, but if you think about what’s going on to produce these results, you’ll realize that AVMs are climbing all over each other to get to the top of the ranking. So, when you’re valuing a particular property, you just don’t know if it will be a good candidate for even the best AVM. When that AVM produces a result with low confidence, there’s a very good chance that another AVM will produce a reasonable estimate. Why not be able to take three, four or five bites at the apple?