Zillow Taps Owner Generated Content

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In a post on Zillow Blog, Rich Barton announced that the next version of Zillow.com (Z2) went live last night. Lots of new features to point out.

Robbie at RCG highlights the scrollable heat maps which Zillow has added to their main map page. I love the heat maps and it’s great to see them included next to the general search results rather than buried in another section. Sadly they are still only available at the city level. I’d love to see them available at the neighborhood level too, but we’ll probably have to wait for Z3 for that.

Probably the biggest announcement however, is that Zillow is tapping homeowners’ knowledge (“owner generated content”) to fill in missing data in their home’s Zestimates, in a new feature they’re calling My Estimate.

Homeowners, can claim now claim their home and edit the specific features that determine how Zillow values it. This is a great idea, that should placate many of the criticisms leveled at Zillow’s previous valuation efforts.

Unfortunately, like many others, I suspect this will lead to some unscrupulous types trying to inflate values or artificially claiming a property. Right now, registering as a home owner only involves me picking the name of the current title holder out of a random list of names. It seems to me that with just a little Googling, it wouldn’t be too hard to game this system.

Zillow promises it has policies in place to deal with this situation. And you can report bogus owners or incorrect information as it stands now. I only hope they’ve staffed their Customer Support departments sufficiently!

So, with all these new changes, does this mean (like Flickr) we’ll be seeing a ‘Gamma’ replacing the ‘Beta’ in Zillow’s logo soon?

Read more on Zillow’s Z2 launch here: