Real estate Web site Zillow.com is allowing homeowners across the United States to update information about their homes currently displayed at the national site.
Homeowners previously were able to make changes to their home’s record, but could not share these changes with the public. Now, after an online process to verify whether a person is the actual homeowner, owners can correct information that may be out of date such as square footage and remodeling projects that could impact their home’s value.
Homeowners who want to update their home’s information will have to register at the site under their own names to enable Zillow to verify who they are and avoid publishing anything submitted by a non-owner.
Once verified, homeowners also can choose their own comparable transactions to include in their home’s value estimate at Zillow. If the owner chooses, a full report with owner changes will be published online alongside Zillow’s original reports and estimates for anyone surfing the site to view. Owners also have the option to save the changes and keep them private or to e-mail them to whomever they choose.
The company hopes to engage consumers, giving them a more active role in the site’s real estate content, according to Zillow spokeswoman Amy Bohutinsky, who said that homeowners often contact the company to inquire about updating their home’s record on the site.
The latest feature follows Zillow’s initial long-term plan to build a large database of real estate information, then work to make it richer, Bohutinsky said.
Zillow launched in beta, or test form, in February 2006 and includes home valuations and data on 68 million homes. Some people working in the real estate industry have complained to Inman News that Zillow’s estimates of home values are often off target, sometimes by tens of thousands of dollars. Zillow has maintained that data provided by public record in some markets is more reliable than others and is working to improve data accuracy over time.
Rich Barton, Zillow co-founder and CEO, in a statement said, “Opening up Zillow’s massive database and allowing homeowners to contribute factual information and commentary should, over time, dramatically enhance the quality and relevance of Zillow to buyers, sellers and homeowners.”
Zillow also launched a new service today enabling consumers to track home-value-estimate changes on their favorite homes.