OpinionIndustry News

Home-price curiosity goes way back

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In a 1925 New Yorker magazine short story, "A Certain Lady," Dorothy Parker wrote: "...she may be found frequently inspecting and pricing Park Avenue apartments, and hopefully calling up real estate agents to inquire if the prices in that part of town have taken a change for the better since her last inquiry." Curiosity about home prices is not new, there are just more people curious today, as Zillow learned yesterday when its servers crashed trying to feed the mad rush to get home valuations. Zillow launched on Wednesday after a year of speculation and secrecy over what the company's founder Rich Barton, who created online travel giant Expedia, could do in real estate. Zillow's tool enables consumers to look up home valuations online, but the company suffered outages most of the day as hundreds of thousands of people tried to log on. In 1999, HomeGain launched a free home-valuation tool, using 40 million public records at the time. We required registration but it still knocked us c...