Zillow’s Zestimates Are Taking a Dip in Accuracy: 150M Dollar Bel-Air Mansion Listed as ‘Sold’
If you look at the pictures on the 924 Bel Air Road website, you’d think that the 150 million-dollar property has it all, except for a buyer. However, that’s not what Zillow reported when it erroneously listed the mega-mansion as ‘sold’ numerous times. Now, Bruce Makowsky, LA-based real estate developer, is suing Zillow for falsely reporting the Bel-Air property as sold.
The Lawsuit against Zillow Group
Demanding $60 million in damages, Makowsky’s legal representatives explained that this false reporting resulted in a negative impact that caused a significant loss. In the lawsuit against the real estate listing giant, Zillow, Makowsky stated that by reporting the property’s selling price for much lower than the actual demand, the listing price was corrupted dramatically.
The suit alleges that the listing website permitted a false account user to pose as the homeowner and that once the issue was raised, Zillow didn’t take immediate action to resolve the issue.
Zillow’s Lax Verification Process
The lawsuit explained that the listing website doesn’t evaluate a user’s validity manually and that it instead employs limited verification methods. As long as a user can answer a couple of verification questions, they have access.
In this case, a false user accessed the ‘Billionaire’ mega-mansion’s home listing page with a phone number with a fictitious area code. The suit alleges that after a ‘troll’ claiming to be the property’s owner uploaded information to the mansion’s listing page, Zillow published it without bothering to check its reliability.
A Misleading Listing and its Domino Effect
This information includes damaging claims. On the 4th of February, it claimed the 38,000-square-foot property sold for $110 million, and on the 8th, it reported that an open house was to be held from 1 to 4 p.m.
On the 9th and a day after, the ‘Billionaire’ mansion’s listing page showed a sale for $90.5 million and $93.4 million respectively. The plaintiff’s attorneys wrote that the listing’s incorrect information gained significant traction due to the website’s prominence in the homebuyer and home seller markets.
The information reached numerous agents and brokers, who congratulated the developer’s agents when they thought that the expensive property had been sold. The plaintiff’s representatives also explained that this was not a one-time issue. In fact, Zillow continued to publish inaccurate listing information despite being informed that the Bel-Air mansion had no buyer. According to the plaintiff, it took the defendant over a week to correct the listing, even though they were aware of the problem.
The suit states that due to this negligence, the developers have been unable to get into talks of selling the massive property. In addition, Zillow’s poor listing management prevented the plaintiff from advertising the property on the market.
Response from Zillow
A representative from the Zillow Group stated they take great care to ensure user validity and report correct information on their website. Moreover, listing agents for Nest Seekers International and Hilton & Hyland didn’t comment on the story.
The Moral of This Story is to let your Clients know to Beware of Zillow Estimates ;/