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Homeowners Can Update Zillow's Files

September 20, 2006|Annette Haddad | Times Staff Writer

When online home-valuation service Zillow.com debuted in February, much of the positive prelaunch vibe quickly dissipated when viewers noticed their own estimates of their properties' value often differed from those provided by the website.

Now, the Seattle-based company is seeking to remedy the situation -- and update its files with minimal effort.

Starting today, homeowners can enter Zillow's massive database and personally update or correct information about their house -- such as room additions or a new pool -- which probably will result in an updated value estimate by the service.

"We've received loads of feedback from homeowners who want to be able to publish things they know about their own homes, such as a kitchen remodel, a view or a deck addition, that we aren't able to glean from public records," Zillow co-founder and Chief Executive Richard Barton said in a statement.

Zillow has amassed data on more than 60 million homes nationwide from public records and gives the information away for free, without routing the viewer to a real estate agent.

When a viewer types an address, the website will provide an estimate of that particular home's worth based on recent sales in the neighborhood and other variables. But despite the dispassionate assemblage of information, many homeowners have felt cheated when their homes' valuation -- what Zillow calls a "zestimate" -- pops into view.

Even with tools on the website to allow a homeowner to make updates about recent remodeling, Zillow's updated valuation lasted only as long as the web page was open.

With the new feature, homeowners can make the changes permanent and allow the amended information to be viewed by all Zillow users.

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annette.haddad@latimes.com

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