SAN FRANCISCO — One beef real estate agents have with Zillow is that the listing portal sometimes publishes outdated or inaccurate data. That can mean anything from labeling pending or sold listings as active or serving up inaccurate home valuations (“Zestimates”).

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  • Asked why it sometimes publishes imperfect data, Zillow’s COO said that feedback suggests that consumers love Zillow just the way it is.
  • She also noted that, while it may sometimes publish flawed data, it ultimately connects consumers with the most accurate source of real estate data: agents.
  • She said most consumers know that agents can provide better data than Zillow.

SAN FRANCISCO — One beef real estate agents have with Zillow is that the listing portal sometimes publishes outdated or inaccurate data.

That can mean anything from labeling pending or sold listings as active or serving up inaccurate home valuations (“Zestimates”).

One attendee at Inman Connect San Francisco asked Zillow COO Amy Bohutinsky a question many agents have: “Why put it out there if common knowledge among real estate agents says that that’s wrong?”

One reason is because consumers seem to appreciate Zillow just the way it is — data warts and all, Bohutinsky suggested.

Asked how Zillow defends sometimes publishing less-than-perfect data, she answered that consumer feedback indicates that the “vast majority of our users love Zillow.”

That’s based on digging into consumer data on a “religious basis,” asking consumers questions about different features like, ‘Is this empowering?” “Is this interesting?” “Do you want this on here or not?”

Amy Bohutinsky

Amy Bohutinsky

The listing portal provides information on 110 million homes, she said, so “of course there’s going to be exceptions” to what is generally accurate data.

And consumers get that, she said. “Most people understand what we are, which is a database of available data.” Zillow is “working hard to improve,” she said. “But it is what it is.”

She pointed to Zestimates as one area of improvement. Zillow previously told Inman that the Zestimate’s national median error rate has fallen from 13.6 percent in 2006 to 8.3 percent today.

It’s also worth noting that the quality of Zillow’s listing data has improved in many markets, since it’s getting much more of its listing data directly from MLSs compared to even just a year ago.

While Zillow may occasionally publish flawed data, she added, the website connects consumers with the best source of real estate data around: real estate agents.

Most consumers know they can “get better information with agent,” she said.

Consumers are going to start somewhere when they want to connect with an agent, she said, and “we want that to be Zillow.”

Email Teke Wiggin.

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