Zillow – Real Estate Search Results

I’ve been following Zillow for quite some time (since launch).  Zillow displays a lot of very nice information on homes – for homeowners or potential buyers.  It’s a great site to check out similar home valuations, prices in neighborhoods, etc.

Today they added some new features, including the ability for homeowners to provide input into their home valuation.  Many months ago I spoke with Zillow about privacy, and they weren’t really able to tell me too much about their plans. 

They have a kind-of interesting mechanism to make sure you are the homeowner – basically you pick a house then enter your email address, etc (and pass a CAPTCHA) and you are presented with a semi-random list of names.  I say semi-random because if you are the home owner, your name should be in the list.  Select your name and Bamm!  – you are instantly the “trusted” owner of the property.  You can make changes to data such as square footage, number of rooms, etc.  You can even set your own valuation.  These changes aren’t applied immediately (and I can’t find what the timing/criteria for placement is)

“Trusted” is key here, because basically anyone can look up an address at the tax office, find the owner name, and “take over” ownership of a property. 

Of course people won’t do this because before you claim ownership you have to “promise” (really!) that you own the house.  <sarcasm_on> Nobody on the Internet will ever be dishonest, so this shouldn’t concern any of you. </sarcasm off>

That’s it.  Just promise you own the house, and as far as the S/W is concerned, you do.

I don’t like this, of course.  Seems that the least they could do would be to mail a good old fashioned snail mail letter to the address with some special code in it or something that must be entered.

It’ll be interesting to see how long it is until they are forced to change this – I bet it won’t be very long.

Link to Zillow – Real Estate Search Results


  1. Kevin – good point.  But who cares?  It’s easy to create a new account.  I created two today in under 5 minutes.  So I do not see this as any type of deterrent whatsoever. Email addresses are free, and easy to get.


  2. It’s easy to fraudulently claim ownership of one home, but fortunately the second and subsequent times you need to submit your credit card number so they can match the name with the public records.  If you wanted to fraudulently claim ownership of numerous homes, you would have to create multiple accounts.

  3. Glad you found the site useful – I do too.  I have followed them because I like them.  But I don’t like the way this new feature is implemented.

    I’m currently reviewing and marking up on their privacy policy and perhaps their terms of use.  I think I’ll start doing this more often for new sites I find, and post my revised (and more appropriate from my perspective) versions of the documents here.  Perhaps people will find it useful to see what concerns me about some of these agreements.


  4. Wow, this just made my day! I plugged in the address of the place I just made an offer on and the comps came back even better than what I thought! w00t!The privacy concerns??? Wow, I am really concerned about that and would never use this site for more than what I just did because of their practices…