A Closer Look: Zillow $1 Million Prize Winners

Posted on Feb 20 2019 - 3:42pm by Jameson Doris
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zillow prize

Credit: Zillow

What would your team do with $1 million?

That’s the question three lucky team members from three different countries—Canada, Morocco and the United States—got to ask themselves as the winners of Zillow Prize last month.

Zillow Prize, a global competition that brought together some of the best and brightest in the field of data science, was announced with the objective of improving the accuracy of the company’s Zestimate feature.

According to Zillow, the feature, which automates home valuations of 110 million homes across the U.S., is expected to have its error rate reduced from 4.5 percent to under 4 percent thanks to the algorithms created by the winners, which the company is already employing.

Although Chahhou Mohamed of Morocco was unavailable for comment, Housecall was able to discuss what winning this incredible prize was like with the other two individuals on Team ChaNJestimate: Nima Shahbazi of Toronto, Ontario, and Jordan Meyer of Raleigh, N.C.

“Zillow Group surprised me during what I thought was going to be a casual meeting for the finalists,” said Shahbazi. “Stan Humphries [chief analytics officer at Zillow Group] walked in with a giant check, and I could not believe it was actually happening!”

Humphries, too, surprised Meyer with a giant check—but in his home.

“I thought we had a good chance at winning, but had tried to stay cautiously optimistic, so I wasn't expecting anything like that. It was a surreal moment,” he said. “After the initial shock wore off, I felt a combination of luck and pride.”

But what would you do with $1 million? Meyer and Shahbazi had two very different initial reactions as to what to spend the cash on.

“The first thing I bought was actually a mop, because we made a giant mess dancing around the office in our slushy boots,” said Shahbazi. “I don’t have a specific plan, but I will invest some in my startup, and I will buy gifts for my wife, my Mom and Dad and my two sisters.”

Meyer admits that he’s eyeing some real estate. “I have several custom searches and alerts set up on Zillow,” he says.

Agents, are you part of a team? What would you do with $1 million if your team won a competition like this?

 

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