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9/20/2006
01:13 PM
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Zillow Lets Real-Estate Owners Add Their Own Estimates

Disagree with what the online real-estate information service says about the value and description of your home? Zillow lets you post your own estimate and description, which will be published side-by-side with its own record.

Users of real estate research site Zillow.com can now place their own estimates next to Zillow's figures beginning Wednesday, the company said.

Zillow uses a combination of proprietary algorithms and public records like assessors' valuations and sales filings to arrive at the valuations they place on the 68 million U.S. homes in the company's database.

"We've received loads of feedback since our launch from homeowners who want to be able to publish things they know about their own homes, such as a kitchen remodel, a view or deck addition, that we aren't able to glean from public records," said Rich Barton, Zillow co-founder and CEO, according to a company statement.

One Zillow user who found the service's listings weren't entirely accurate was none other than Barton himself. Barton, who has his home for sale, became the site's first user to make his property offering more accurate.

"In my case the public records say that my house has 2.25 bathrooms, when there are really 3.5," Barton said on his blog, "Zillow now presents my facts side-by-side with the public record facts. Additionally, I was able to publish My Estimate of my home's value letting any prospective buyers know that we remodeled"

Zillow debuted in February and has quickly caught on with homeowners and prospective homeowners. It quickly signed cooperative deals with Microsoft and Yahoo.

Zillow released the following instructions for using the new property-owner feature: "Homeowners simply go to Zillow.com, register under their own name, and 'claim' their home's record through an online private verification process." Property owners then are free to add remodel information, update or change facts, as well as provide more specific details such as a waterfront view, type of parking or roof composition.

"I imagine there are many sellers and other homeowners out there with the urge to 'remodel' their home as it appears on Zillow," Barton wrote. "So, I encourage you to find your house on Zillow right now and set the record straight."

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