Zillow and the Joke that it Is!

Come on Zillow. I have had enough! I am calling you out!

Zillow recently posted an article indicating that if a listing real estate agent does NOT post their listings to Zillow, they may not be doing their job properly! Oh, and they did not make it open to the general public so that regular people wouldn't see through them! (Don't worry Zillow, this is made public for them.)

One of my favorite real estate agent bloggers RENEE BURROWS wrote a fantastic response and raised a question that I wanted to address:

Why aren't highly branded websites (and other advertising mediums) held by the same standards of conduct and ethics that Realtors are sworn in and licensed to protect?

This is because they are not selling the homes. They do not recieve commissions or fees for the sale of any property. Even if they charged a fee to advertise the home, they are not an agent in the transaction, simply an advertising medium.

The focus of websites like Zillow is to SELL ADS! They don't give a rip if the information on their website is acurate or authentic. They just want to sell ads. YOu sell ads by showing the advertisers that you have a lot of traffic. You get a lot of traffic by offering free tools... and the tools don't have to be realistic.

The general public that has no idea of what a property's value is will be mislead by Zillow. Plain and simple. Why doesn't Zillow change this? They don't care... if they make a buck off the ad placed next to the misleading property info, then it was successful!

Zillow now offers Mortgage Quotes as well. Of course, these are completely anonymous. The potential borrower puts in as much or as little info as they want. It doesn't have to be accurate either. But they get to have lenders compete by giving them quotes based on meaningless information. If they don't like the quotes, they can give the lender a bad rating! What the heck is that?

Have we lost common sense?

Zillow is bad for real estate. We don't need ANOTHER real estate website to promote homes for sale. I can do a Google search for real estate in ANY market and get thousands of websites... if I want to find a home, I can find a home.

So what value does Zillow bring? Only that which they can line their pockets with in ad revenue. It is self serving and all around (in my humble opinion) a joke that anyone takes them seriously.

And please Zillow employees... don't call me this time asking me to "just give us a try." I'll make you a deal... if your Zestimate is so damn accurate, buy MY home right now for the amount you think it's worth! I'd gladly sell for the price YOU think it's worth. No one else would buy it at that price!

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Rainer
69,002
Charlotte Home Loans Your Charlotte Mortgage Lender
Charlotte, NC

Heath... the power of it being my blog post is that I can delete the self serving BS they might put up. If they want to provide real feedback, I'd let that stay. But the last time I posted something negative about them, I got spammed with promotional responses and many links back to their own website... won't stand for that at all!

Jun 12, 2008 01:58 AM #3
Ambassador
3,720,274
Debe Maxwell, CRS
www.iCharlotteHomes.com | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
The right Charlotte REALTOR!

Ed:  My problem with them is not so much the ad money, etc. but that they give VASTLY incorrect comparables and the public believes that they should make low-ball offers ANYWAY, which snowballs into Buyers making, not only low-ball offers but, INSULTING ones!  Drives me nuts too!  GREAT post Ed!

Debe in Charlotte

Jun 12, 2008 03:37 AM #4
Rainer
69,002
Charlotte Home Loans Your Charlotte Mortgage Lender
Charlotte, NC

Debe, I have no problem with them making money in selling ads. As a webmaster myself, I have websites that are designed to make money, and I will never begrudge anyone for doing so.

My issue is that they are billing themselves as something they aren't at the detriment of the real estate industry as a whole. Buyers and sellers get bad info and advice, and both Realtors and loan officers have to deal with the issues that are created.

 

Jun 12, 2008 04:03 AM #5
Rainmaker
182,157
Sara Bonert
Zillow - Atlanta, GA
Real Estate Internet Marketing

All- Don't worry, I post any links and give you any promotional responses, I just wanted to address a few things in your post.  I wrote the post you are citing and want to say that that was NOT the point of my post AT ALL. It was simply meant to be an open debate.  It was an extention of a very interesting conversation I had had that week at a real estate conference with industry veterans.  No where in the article do I say what you said I did in my post.  In fact, I flat out say the opposite, espically if you read all the comments.

I orginally did have it as a public post. However, it was so misrepresented and I got accused for trying to put ideas in the publics' head, that I switched it to member's only because I thought that is what people wanted based on the comments. 

On the contrary, we DO care if things are accurate.  If any website is giving false information the public will see right through that and not come back.  No one wants to build a site people come to only once.

Jun 12, 2008 11:58 PM #6
Rainer
69,002
Charlotte Home Loans Your Charlotte Mortgage Lender
Charlotte, NC

Sara,

Let's be fair, ok? Who reads ALL the comments. We read the post, which should speak to the idea that you as the author are trying to get across. If you have to continue to clarify what you "really meant" in the comments, you might want to re-evaluate and correct the actual post. I have had to do that myself, as many people read your post, maybe the first few comments and then hurry to the bottom to comment.

Also, if you meant for it to be a public post, I would DEFINITELY go back and correct the post. Otherwise it appears to the Professionals here that you are now trying to hide something.

As to Accuracy? I will give you that you want the information to have some form of accuracy. As to the reasoning of wanting clients to come back? Well I'd argue anything free brings visitors back! But regardless of that,  the average "margin of error" according to your website's disclaimer is approximately 10%. I'd say that pretty freaking big! So on a home worth $500,000 (real worth, not your estimate), Zillow's margin of error would allow the estimate to range from $450,000 to $550,000.

Here is the problem, and real estate professionals please correct me if I am wrong:

Buyers visit and get an estimate on a property, and that estimate is 10% off to the low end. They now feel as if they need to offer $450,000 on this home or they have overpaid. Sellers visit and maybe they see the estimate on the high end and want to list for $550,000. Either way, nothing happens on the home.

Sure a listing or buyer's agent can help them correct the problem that Zillow has created, but that is just more work that they have to do. Isn't your claim to make it easier for Realtors?

My first big issue here is that your company is marketing themselves as "Your Edge in Real Estate" when in fact there is no edge to be had. It is a marketing medium that makes its money on advertising. Want to be transparent? Be honest about that part!

My other issue lies with the Mortgage Marketplace and how this is set up. I already hate the big mortgage marketing websites and all the false advertising that spews out everywhere on them. But what Zillow has created is a joke. Even your website's own words make it a joke...

  • Create a Loan Request

    You are anonymous to lenders - no name, phone, or SSN required

  • Receive Quotes

    Get personalized mortgage quotes from confirmed lenders

  • Contact the Lender

    Review quotes, profiles, and ratings. Then you contact them, they don't call you.

  • My question: How do you give Personalized quotes to someone Anonymous? I can't order a personalized T-Shirt without Personal information... this ain't no T-Shirt!

    And if the lender gives a quote that misses the mark, the anonymous requestor can rate them poorly.

    If Zillow wants to help, give REAL answers. What you have provided leads to more confusion and misleading information, which is NOT what the real estate and mortgage markets need right now, ESPECIALLY RIGHT NOW! The people that you are taking advantage of here are the actual PROFESSIONALS that do the work. You sell ads... plain and simple.

    Transparency? Just admit "Zillow is an advertsing medium" and you have achieved real transparency.

    Jun 13, 2008 12:59 AM #7
    Rainer
    53,231
    Carey Pott
    January Financial - Foothill Ranch, CA

    Great points Ed. As a lender, I've found a lot of value in the discussion part of the site but very little on the valuation or quote side. No business has come from it, and there are so many sharks that the good guys get drowned out by the noise. Frustrating...

    Jun 13, 2008 08:50 AM #8
    Rainer
    23,676
    James Graner
    Residential Services: http://appraisalmo.com - Saint Charles, MO

    Zillow values are absurd. While I do understand why some use this website, I do not understand why so many believe this.

    Jun 13, 2008 12:26 PM #9
    Rainer
    11,334
    David Gibbons
    Zillow.com - Seattle, WA

    Hey Ed, it's David from Zillow.com,

    Did something happen that sparked this post? You're obviously entitled to your opinion but if there's something specific about the site that has got to you I'd like to figure it out if possible. Feel free to ping me off-line.

    Please also note that you're incorrect about Zillow Mortgage Marketplace ... borrowers can only review lenders that they have contacted and worked with i.e. borrowers on Zillow are not allowed to merely rate lenders whose quotes they don't like as you've claimed in your post. Could you please correct that?

    Zillow is a media company. Yes, we make our living from advertising - just like your newspaper or your favorite TV channel does. I know it's 'in' right now to 'hate the media' and Zillow can gets caught up in all that but seriously, it's ridiculous to think that Zillow is bad for real estate. 5,2M people every month are clearly finding some use for the site. And yes, from a professional's perspective, you should absolutely view Zillow as a marketing and advertising platform. We don't want to sell houses; that's your job.

    Lastly; you appear to have a personal issue with Sara's blog post and I encourage you to first re-read it and notice that it is not at all specific to Zillow and then consider contacting Sara about it. This post is an unfair characterization of what she wrote.

    Jun 16, 2008 03:17 AM #10
    Ambassador
    274,819
    Eleanor Thorne
    Equity Resources - Cary, NC
    Equity Resources 919-649-5058

    Ed gotta' agree with you.  A property on my street recently showed up as a "Zillow Estimate" of like $305K  It was listed at $360 and sold IN ONE DAY for $354K.  The buyers - if looking at Zillow - would think they OVERPAID for the property!  My personal belief is that this data is also screwing up the Automated Appraisal Engines that are pulling from MULTIPLE platforms to come up with the LOWEST value!

    Jun 16, 2008 06:03 AM #11
    Rainer
    11,334
    David Gibbons
    Zillow.com - Seattle, WA

    Eleanor -

    Thanks for that example ... it's just further proof that an inaccurate Zestimate value can not impact the sale of your listings. Zestimates are not supposed to be the last word in home values and your story just illustrates yet again that consumers get that.

    Jun 17, 2008 06:47 AM #12
    Ambassador
    2,753,514
    Lenn Harley
    Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
    Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

    Well, the only question was, which Zillow mouthpiece would work this one.  It was Sara Bonert.

    "On the contrary, we DO care if things are accurate.  If any website is giving false information the public will see right through that and not come back.  No one wants to build a site people come to only once."  Sara Bonert

    The public do not know when they are being fed good information, bad information.  They only know that they are being fed information.  If they know the good from the bad information, they wouldn't be on Zillow looking for information.  They are researching.  When they are fed innacurate information, they don't know it because they have not the knowledge base to judge. 

    Uh Oh, another hit from Zillow.  I have to admit that Mr. Gibbons is one of the best wordsmiths I have ever read.  He missed on this one though by not asking you to change something you stated in your post.  Mmmmmmm. 

    I am very glad this was featured in the Week In Review.  Perhaps it will save a few loan officers from having their reputations blackened by that obscene "rating" system. 

    Jun 18, 2008 05:02 AM #13
    Anonymous
    Totally agree, Zillow is a joke & they do not care about slander

    I have had a nightmare of an experience with Zillow. An unidentified spammer posted terrible information about my home, my real name, my real address and real phone number and then left a horribly slanderous remark. This remark was then linked somehoe to 17 other Zillow profiles.

    Well I've searched to no end to find the email of the Zillow webmaster. All I found was some silly "good neighbor policy" that lists a generic Zillow email. I wrote my concerns to this privacy Zillow email and to the copyright email.

    I was contacted by a person with an unreal name, Nida Makein <nidam@zillow.com> who has exchanged more than 20 emails with basically the same answer. She claims that Zillow can change or delete a bad profile. But supposedly it doesn't maintain any older archives of it's past profiles. This is totally wrong because if this was true, I wouldn't be able to pull up the older slanderous profile still left in the Zillow archives.

    So I write this Nida person and ask that she could insert the folloing html line into the <header> line of the particular Zillow url:

    <meta name="robots" content="noarchive">

    page so that the active archive can't be searched by anyone online. Sounds like a simple thing for any webmaster. But not Zillow.

    Zillow rep, Nida Makein replies:

    I just spoke with my Director who stated that since this is a snap shot that Google took on Oct 1, you would need to contact them.  In our system, the information you requested to be deleted has been deleted.

     Thank you,

     Nida

    So I've replied again back to Nida:

    I DID CONTACT Google and was told that it's up to the original webmaster (Zillow) to insert the header line
    into the HTML source in order for the CACHED version to not show on ANY online search.

    Google does not have any control over what's posted or shows up on CACHED Zillow profiles
    (should I contact another search engine to find the same answer???)

    Please take the responsibility to clean up all the leftover debris from your website profiles.

    Please insert this simple line into the header HTML (that's if Zillow truly cares about keeping it's onlookers
    happy).

    Please remove this ZILLOW  "cached" page

    presently showing on ALL search engines. Please add the following line to the HEADER section 

     <meta name="robots" content="noarchive">

      of the original page so that it won't be brought up in random searches by anyone...

    I will only ask this one last time, before I contact Google (and several other online
    search engine sites) and report Zillow's refusal to make things right!!!


    I've been re-assured by Google that if Zillow doesn't clean up this mess that they will proceed to
    turn this purposely placed SLANDER over to their investigation boards (who may proceed with a
    potential class action due to lots of other unhappy people affected by Zillow slander purposely
    left in archives and ignored). Even though this IS NOT A Google issue, I was given a Google resource
    for a legal remedy. (I'd rather not make this a legal issue....but the lack of responsibility by Zillow's
    webmaster shows that Zillow is purposely contributing to the original SLANDER and is just as
    GUILTY
    )

    Please let contact me as soon as your webmaster makes this right by clearing the clutter in the Zillow
    archives!!

    Do you have any suggestions about resolving this issue with Zillow????????????

    I'm ready to file Slander charges for the awful remarks still remaining on Zillow, I've already filed complaints with the BBB, cybercrimes, Google, Yahoo(since they are now partners) and with the post office

    because my home address has been compromised by Zillow allowing the public slander to remain on the website.

    If anyone is ever planning to sell their personal home, please don't use Zillow. It only opens you up to

    spammers, hackers and all sorts of future privacy issues that become etched forever in the Zillow archives.

    Although what's truly strange is that since all this questionable activity over the last two weeks, it's attracted all sorts of onlookers to the Zillow profile. (nearly 900 hits in 2 weeks) And the Zestimate of my home that has the wrong location, wrong picture and so forth...has increased $13,000 in supposed value.

    It's not worth the price. That also makes my public info subject to all sorts of criminal activity. There's only so much I can do. I changed my email, changed my phone number, and some of the private info. But I still live here and can't change my real street address.

    Zillow Slander victim

     

     

    Oct 15, 2008 05:48 PM #14
    Rainer
    69,002
    Charlotte Home Loans Your Charlotte Mortgage Lender
    Charlotte, NC

    "Totally Agree",

    First off, I feel for you in your plight, if indeed it is real. As anyone can tell, I am not a big fan of Zillow. However, I have tried to be fair in my assessments and I believe people (besides Zillow cronies) can see that. In that same light, I must respond to this reply.

    With this reply you have the opportunity to speak out and notify others about what has happened. However, at the end, you went anonymous. This leads me to wonder about the credibility of this reply. If you had left your name others could validify the claim and then a real problem would be highlighted. However, right now you have posted what could be considered slanderous to Zillow, and used MY post to do so.

    IN fairness, I will give you 24 hours to repost this with real identifiable information. Otherwise, this reply will be deleted. If in fact this has happened to you, you should have the ability to make it known. But you should provide items that can be verified as these are some pretty big charges.

    I have railed against the machine that Zillow is, but every time I have backed up my reasons with solid arguements and facts that can be verified. The interpretation of those facts are left to the reader. Your reply is one sided and does not allow anyone to check any facts.

    Please repost your reply with your name and more information that can be verified or the reply will be deleted.

    Thanks,
    Ed Nailor

     

    PS. One note many should understand... when you are dealing with a large company and feel you are getting nowhere, do not bring up the "Legal Action" or "lawsuit" threats until you are ready to act on those. Most companies have attornies on retainer and know that if someone says they will sue, they are to shut up immediately and refer everything to their attorney from there. It is not a scare tactic that works... so save those threats unless you can follow through.

    Oct 15, 2008 11:33 PM #15
    Anonymous
    If you must see the shameful slander left on the Zillow website.

    I'm not using your website. What I have stated is true and I'm currently writing to a private investigator to see what my options really are.

    If you still have your doubts, please write me at travelvet@gmail.com.

    I personally feel that it's bad enough that this has happened to me. It's totally unfair that that you expect me to go so public with what was actually written or displaying the link to further shame me.

    My real name is Betty Nichols. The archived Zillow profile can be checked out on google with keywording my real name and "Zillow". You'll see that the first two links brought up. Just click on the "cached" version in the Zillow archive and you'll see the damage left.

    The real sad part is that unfortunately the person that would stoop this low...is a retired police officer and my older brother whom I haven't seen in nine years. If you still have your doubts, so be it.

    I am a disabled veteran and I've had more that my share of life problems.

    I'm sorry that my real life and recent Zillow issues caused you such distress that you had to post such retalliation remarks about a real person's traumas.

    I hope you find some peace in your life,

    Betty Nichols

    Medically retired Navy veteran

     

     

     

    Oct 16, 2008 05:07 PM #16
    Rainer
    69,002
    Charlotte Home Loans Your Charlotte Mortgage Lender
    Charlotte, NC

    Betty,

    Thank you for at least posting enough info for others to see for themselves. I did not post anything in retailiation, but if you have followed my posts about Zillow at all you can clearly see that the folks at Zillow have done all they can to discredit my views and concerns. Their comments clearly show that they are in denial that any lender could be discredited by an anonymous borrower even though it has clearly happened to one of our very well known associates here on AR.

    I hope that your issue gets resolved and would welcome any real feedback from the Zillow folks (besides the normal "It can't happen") that might get it resolved.

    My reply was to avoid anyone from thinking this was a "bash Zillow" at all costs. Your charges are fairly serious and if valid should be addressed. I would love to hear from others that have have had similar situations so that the truth about the danger Zillow allows for the mortgage community may be totally exposed.

    Ed Nailor

    Oct 17, 2008 04:06 AM #17
    Rainer
    69,002
    Charlotte Home Loans Your Charlotte Mortgage Lender
    Charlotte, NC

    That being said, I did the search on Google and if I know your name and search for a Zillow profile, there is a search result for Betty Nichols-Frost. The Google page description comes up as:

    View Betty Nichols-Frost's profile on Zillow.com. View homes for sale, real estate information, mortgage information and home improvement ideas on ...

    With that description, there is a URL that shows as http://www.zillow.com/profile/Betty-Nut-Job; however, when you reach the Zillow page you find the following text for the profile:

    Page Not Found

    We couldn't find the page you requested.

    In my personal opinion, I would not be worried about this at this time. It does appear that someone was able to create a profile with your information at one time, but Zillow has deleted the profile. Even if I do a search on just your name, I get nothing further than this.

    This does not remove the fact that someone can abuse the free profile options that Zillow (and many other websites for that matter) offer. Anyone that has a grudge about someone can easily create a profile at any number of websites and post slanderous things. I do not lay the responsibility at Zillow's feet for this... that is the person that filled out the profile that committed the slander. It appears that Zillow actually did what they should have done and deleted the issue. The fact that the page is not found shows that.

    This is different that what I have been complaining about, as it seems someone has posted a profile about you. What I have been upset about is the ability of an anonymous borrower posting a review of a professional mortgage lender that provided them a "quote" without any real basis, just because they didn't like the "quote".

    What you are worried about in Google is not something to be worried about any further. No information is there any more and after a while Google will remove the information from their search results because the results do not provide any real information. Google is pretty good at removing invalid results, it just may take time.

    It sounds like you have an issue with someone outside of Zillow and Google that you need to deal with and I wish you well in dealing with that.

    Ed Nailor

    Oct 17, 2008 04:16 AM #18
    Anonymous
    turboboy

    the navy woman's thing is gone from google cache -- i think you should edit out her personal information out of your blow now.  ^^

     

    my house is the crappiest one in the neighborhood, but zillow says it's worth more than some of my neighbor's places.  maybe i'll print out a screenshot and see if they want to trade.

    Dec 02, 2008 08:38 PM #19
    Rainmaker
    3,066,356
    Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers
    Serving the Greater Phoenix and Scottsdale Metropolitan Area - Scottsdale, AZ
    Haven Express @ Keller Williams Arizona Realty

    False Advertising of any kind is a hot topic for me right now.  It's incredible and appalling how some agents that are clueless when it comes to Short Sales boast of hundreds of transactions and high closing ratios - neither metric being supported by the MLS.

    Aug 25, 2010 01:54 AM #20
    Rainer
    1,300
    Dis En Franchised

    If zillow is crapping on your house value, return the favor - box up and anonymously send them some dog poop.  we shouldn't have to tell them everything about our homes to improve our value on their site.  Instead, if they get enough dog poop from a certain area code, they'll get the picture that their is something wrong with their model there...3

    Jun 29, 2014 01:56 PM #21
    Anonymous
    Greg Reed

    Wow what a joke no one at this company speak English

    Jul 06, 2019 07:15 PM #22
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