Zillow sued over home valuation tool

by Anna Sobrevinas17 May 2017
A real estate lawyer is suing Zillow over its “Zestimates” home valuation tool, which she claims undermined her home’s worth and hindered its sale.
Barbara Andersen, a real estate lawyer from Glenview, Ill., filed the suit in Cook County Circuit Court, according to the Washington Post.

Andersen’s townhouse, which she is selling for $626,000 – less than what she paid for it in 2009 – is situated in a top-quality location and overlooks a golf course. She claims that the company’s “Zestimates” tool used newly constructed homes from a less costly part of town to compare with her townhouse, making its Zestimate plummet to $562,000.

She told the Post she is seeking for an injunction and for Zillow to either amend or remove her Zestimate. For now, she is not seeking monetary damages

Zillow describes Zestimates as a “home valuation (that) is Zillow's estimated market value, computed using a proprietary formula. It is not an appraisal. It is a starting point in determining a home's value. The Zestimate is calculated from public and user-submitted data, taking into account special features, location and market conditions.”

Andersen argues that Zillow’s market-value estimates “are promoted as a tool for potential buyers to use in assessing [the] market value of a given property,” and therefore could be classified as an appraisal.

A statement issued by Zillow said that Andersen’s “claims in this case are without merit.”

“We always say that the Zestimate is a starting point to determine a home's value, and isn't an official appraisal,” Zillow said. “What’s more, the plaintiff can update her own Zestimate by adding the square footage of her home to her for-sale-by-owner listing. If she did that, she would see an immediate adjustment to her Zestimate.”

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