Homeowner Sues Over Zillow’s ‘Sloppy’ Estimate

CHICAGO (CN) – An Illinois homeowner sued online real estate marketplace Zillow for publishing what she says is an incorrect appraisal of her property, claiming it has interfered with her attempts to sell the home.

Barbara Andersen owns a home in Glenview, Ill., immediately adjacent to a nationally renowned golf course and the Glen Town Center, a high-end outdoor shopping area.

She bought the property in 2009 for about $630,000 from the developer. Since then, Andersen says she has made several attempts to sell her home.

“However, a tremendous roadblock to the same has been the fact that Zillow posts a “Zestimate’ of persons’ homes without their permission, consent and/or any license to do so. A Zestimate is effectively a sloppy computer-drive appraisal of the home,” according to the complaint filed Thursday in Cook County Circuit Court.

Zillow asserts on its website that Zestimate is not an appraisal.

It describes Zestimate as “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.”

According to Andersen, Zillow falsely stated her home sold for $685,000 last fall. Most recently, it appraised the home at $562,000, a $90,000 drop in just six months, the lawsuit states.

She says she has repeatedly reached out to Zillow, and written to its legal department seeking removal or amendment of the Zestimate, but her communications were ignored.

“Zillow’s improper business practice has deterred potential buyers from Andersen. In other words, Zillow’s negligence and unauthorized/improper use of the Zestimate is tortiously interfering with Andersen’s market value and marketability of her home,” the complaint states.

Andersen, an attorney in Glenview, is representing herself. She seeks an injunction requiring Zillow to remove or amend the Zestimate of her home from its website immediately.

Zillow spokesperson Emily Heffter said in response to a request for comment, “The Zestimate is a starting point for determining the value of a home and not an official appraisal. The Zestimate uses a public records data and a sophisticated algorithm to determine an estimated market value for more than 100 million homes around the country. It’s a helpful data point, but we always recommend homeowners work with a local real estate agent or an appraiser to determine the best price for their home.”

Heffter also said homeowners can claim their homes and make adjustments to the information Zillow has to improve the accuracy of the home’s Zestimate.

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