Avoid Zillow for our market in New Orleans..Zillow is designed for places with subdivisions of 1000 houses that all are pretty much the same..as in Arizona or Florida. Zillow info has no basis that relates to market value in New Orleans. Zillow cannot and does not know what a parade route is or proximity to Jazz Fest or how far to go get good crawfish and shrimp.
Multifamilies are always less than single families in the same neighbourhood..has been so for a very long time.
To add to your pain, (and mine..for I have several triplexes around town).. triplexes are confusing to most mortgage companies...it does not fit a "normal" criteria..the mortgage companies ALWAYS get confused..as if your triplex just fell out of the flying real estate saucer and landed at Bayou St John.
Appraisers will not use Uptown...and neither will seasoned agents...even within Uptown there are HUGE variations between zip codes and blocks..especially with multifamilies. For Bayou St John you will have to stick to Area 68.
What was probably your problem is you had an appraiser that used properties that were flooded, in less desirable neighbourhoods, and simply not true comps to yours. As Craig said, and appraiser on such a property should also use the rental income method and as Elizabeth says.."things they are a changin'" The rental market has exploded for quality rentals and is not slowing down as people continue to "flood" the city..different day..new kind of flood..educated young professionals coming for a weekend, staying for a lifetime. Hang tight and see what 1 yr will bring.