Zillow... Make up your own mind

Its no secret that I am not a Zillow Fan. As many of you have seen, I have had several exchanges with the folks from Zillow and have stated my opinion.

That being said, I am not out to start some crusade against Zillow. So I will leave that topic to die on its own and move on to more important topics.

I do challenge everyone that reads my posts to seriously consider the impact that websites such as Zillow might have on your business. There is a saying that even bad exposure is exposure. I am not a big fan of that saying, but then again I am not a star in Hollywood!

Just be aware of where you are looking to place the properties you sell and the services you offer. The medium in which you push your wares will reflect on yourself no matter what you do.

Personally, I feel Zillow is out to make money selling ads off the efforts and good intentions of an industry I love. I feel they are using that industry to serve themselves and putting flawed gimmicks out there simply to attract visitors. When things do not go as the visitors feel they should due to the bad information provided, they will not turn to a website for accountability.. that my friends will fall on us, the professionals.

Make up your own mind, but do not go blindly.

Zillow... I leave you in peace to do as you will anyway.

Ed Nailor, Charlotte Mortgage Lender

Comments (6)

David Gibbons
Zillow.com - Seattle, WA

Ed -

Your dislike of Zillow is well noted and we've tried to learn from your posts but honestly, you've given us very little actual feedback about why that is. You're obviously entitled to your opinion but I'd encourage you to include some research, facts or examples in your blog posts when you're trying to make a point.

If your endictment of Zillow is that we make our money via advertising, that's a criticism we can certainly live with and it's one we're increasingly proud of as our startup inches towards breaking even. I can only imagine that the television and the newspaper must drive you nuts. And google; oh boy, you must really HATE those guys and how they make money from advertising. Dude! It's the information age. Ads are simply the most popular way to monetize information. You're going to have to dislike a whole lot of people if you dislike businesses that make their money via ads.

And on the topic of information ... your post is incorrect about how Zillow has grown ... Zillow.com attracted a massive audience with Zestimate values ... without the effort of anyone in the industry. We then turned round and gave the industry free access to that audience. There are however other sites who are worthy of this criticism and have built their traffic and ad revenuew off little more than agents' listing content - hopefully you'll write about them next.


Jun 17, 2008 12:05 PM
Debe Maxwell, CRS
www.iCharlotteHomes.com | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
The right Charlotte REALTOR!

Hi Ed!  Long time... 

I do use Zillow and dress up my listings with them because a very LARGE number of clients comment that they've found the home there.  I have but, two beefs with them! 

1.  I wish that they wouldn't even attempt to do the comparables--as they are WAY off!  For instance, I sell in Providence Springs, which is a $600K - $700K neighborhood.  When you Zestimate the properties that I list, they also pull in Providence Springs (same zip) where the prices are in the $400K - $600K.  Buyers will think that my PS is WAY overpriced with they do a Zestimate, thus bringing in low-ball offers!!

2.  I have a property in Providence Country Club (PCC) right now that I've tried, with NO success, to reach the folks at Zillow to correct a problem with the listing--Glenn Abbey Way is in PCC, NOT Providence Crossing (about a $250K difference in price range)!  I can't, for the life of me, get it corrected and my Seller is telling me to get it changed--because SHE likes seeing her listing on Zillow but, doesn't want her home listed in Providence Crossing! They have no phone number on their site and no one has responded to my emails--THAT is very frustrating!

Fight it as you may, Zillow is loved by the public and much like my peers who laugh at me for participating in Active Rain, we have to do what our readers/clients expect of us.  We just have to embrace it!!!

Debe in Charlotte

Jun 17, 2008 02:41 PM
Charlotte Home Loans Your Charlotte Mortgage Lender
Charlotte, NC

David. I will actually lay out what my beef is in a post for you.

Debe: I am not a Real Estate agent, so I can not say exactly what I would do in your shoes, nor would I begin to criticize your marketing strategies. However, if I were an agent (big if!) I would have major issues in willingly placing my property on a website that consistently misrepresented the value of that property.

I don't care if Zillow or any other website is loved by the general public. There were many mortgage companies out there that have been loved by the general public that abused the public's trust and have since folded up leaving their customers holding the bag. In that light, and until the major issues I have seen are fixed, I can not simple embrace it. At the same time, I am not going to lead a crusade to change it.

Jun 17, 2008 03:50 PM
David Gibbons
Zillow.com - Seattle, WA

Hi Debe,

Great attitude and good feedback, thanks. To address your issues with Zillow;

1) Comps on Zillow are something we've been working on lately - I hope you notice an improvement. Important to note that we do intentionally show as many recent sales as might possibly be similar homes. Your list will always be far more precise than ours but we're trying to get ours as tight as possible. I should also note that the comparable homes list on Zillow home detail pages is not directly used to calculate Zestimate values in the way a Realtor uses comps as the starting point for a CMA i.e. a few odd comps in the list won't impact a home's Zestimate value.

2) I'm sorry to hear about your frustration about the neighborhood assignment for the home in Providence Country Club. I took a look at Glen Abbey Way and see what you mean. Please give your seller my apologies and this explanation:

Unfortunately, we don't have a neighborhood for Providence Country Club that we could assign the home to (like this one for Providence Crossing.) When we set out to assign homes to neighborhoods, we quickly learned that there is no difinitive source of the neighborhood geographical boundary information we need. So we created it, by hand, from scratch. In that process we also learned that even trusted sources disagree on the size, shape and granularity of neighborhoods. In this case, our neighborhood boundary data isn't granular enough to outline the Providence Country Club neighborhood within Providence Crossing. I'm sorry about that. If you know of an accurate source of Providence neighborhood boundary data, feel free to send it to me.

The good news is that if you take a look at Zillow's map (below) you'll see that Providence Country Club is called out along Glenn Abbey Way. Most buyers find listings on Zillow via searching the maps; if they find your listing on Glen Abbey Way, they'll likely to notice that it's in Providence Country Club.

Jun 17, 2008 04:28 PM
Charlotte Home Loans Your Charlotte Mortgage Lender
Charlotte, NC
Bryan Flynn
Regency Mortgage Corporation - Worcester, MA
Central Mass and Worcester Mortgages

awesome information, thank you for sharing it, great post

Jun 17, 2008 04:59 PM