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No beef in Zillow complaint

Perspective: Lack of evidence undermines housing coalition's allegations

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The National Community Reinvestment Coalition believes inaccurate estimates of residential property values on Zillow.com could inflict substantial injuries on real estate brokers and home buyers, according to a complaint the organization filed last month with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. The coalition may be correct about Zillow's inaccuracies, but the evidence released so far doesn't support vague allegations of actual harm. Anecdotal reports suggest Zillow's home-value estimates often miss the mark, sometimes by very large amounts. And indeed, Zillow has stated on its Web site that its estimates aren't always an accurate representation of market value. It may take a graduate course in statistics to decipher Zillow's reports and how-to-use instructions, but the availability of such information signals that Zillow isn't all that accurate in all places. Moreover, a five-minute conversation with a savvy real estate agent (or homeowner in any neighborhood) would reveal as much with...