Raise your hand if you’ve ever looked up something called a Zestimate. It’s the best guess of what a particular home is worth. The online real estate company Zillow crunches data from users, and it takes market conditions and location into account to come up with it. Margins of error matter in data science, though. So the company offered $1 million to whoever figured out how to improve its Zestimate algorithm the most. Jordan Meyer, a data scientist and a member of the winning team, talked with Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal about whether he thinks there’s still room for improvement in the algorithm and why Zestimates matter. “For most people, their home is probably the most significant investment of their lives. So, you know, having the information that you might need to make an informed decision there, especially making sure that that is accurate, is going to help a lot of people invest wisely.” When asked how he plans to use his share of the prize money, Meyer said, “Well, I’m currently spending my evenings browsing Zillow for investment property.”
Click the audio player above to hear the full interview.