Legal experts not impressed by the bogus threats Zillow used to silence real estate blogger


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/06/27/legal-experts-not-impressed-by.html


#2

Zillo’s valuations are often so far off, the site is near useless.


#3

To the Wayback Machine!</cape flourish>
https://web.archive.org/web/*/mcmansionhell.com

Oh wait: Page cannot be displayed due to robots.txt


#4

I use Zillow like the poorly calibrated blood pressure machine in my office. The daily numbers themselves don’t mean a darn thing, but the overall trends seem to be more or less accurate.


#6

Maybe thousands (millions?) of people need to take screenshots from Zillow and post their own satirical creations with a special hashtag: #zillow_mcfail


#7

Darn it! :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:


#8

thats because it history relies on actual transactions. Where it really falls down is where it estimates current values. This can be hugely off, and very harmful to people if Zillow is under-valuing their property. Zillow is the one that ought to be sued.


#9

To be fair, if you’re using Zillow estimates to actually set a listing price on your house, you’re probably going to get fucked over anyway because that’s the action of a dumb person.

But the site was revolutionary in aggregating sales numbers publicly, something that wasn’t available to anyone not associated with a realtor and MLS access. THAT’s good data and helpful to someone trying to sell-by-owner.

Regarding this C&D… it looks like Zillow is SOL. But I always wondered about the actual owners/sellers of the houses listed. If my shitty home is featured, what sort of legal avenues do I have available if I believe my sale is being affected? This doesn’t seem like a case of satire and public persona; Selling a house isn’t a social contract that opens me or my property up to satire. I guess it is similar to an online review of, say, a restaurant… except the seller isn’t necessarily responsible for the design/architecture like a restaurant is with food.

I am in no way suggesting that the blog- which is fucking great- should be sued. Just wondering if someone who did would have significant legal reasoning.


#10

Seems like all the real estate sites use the same pictures. I figured they all came from the selling agent via MLS. Or in my case I took the pictures of my house for Zillows “Make Me Move” deal. I would of welcomed the extra publicity btw,


#11

That’s not the dynamic in question. Its when Zillow has incorrectly estimated a value, and the buyer(s) use that as leverage to attempt to negotiate the price downward. I assure you this goes on all the time, as well as goes on in the other direction where they over value properties. I have even seen Zillow put estimates on commercial properties that they are mistaking for dwellings.

I understand how Zillow has created access to previously hidden information and why that is good. But they should really keep their lame estimates to themselves, and stop meddling in every real estate transaction in the country.


#12

Zillow is currently being sued over whether their “Zestimates” constitute “estimates” or not…


#13

I thought they were going to stop doing that?

I was just starting to think it was time to go back to Mcmansion hell to see what they’d been posting lately. Looks like now I can’t without grovelling through the Google cache, which is too much work. :frowning:


#14

“comps” or “comparables” are the bedrock method of comparing apples to apples, something that can only be done by having a pretty intimate knowledge of the surrounding real estate market. Even for (once-)identical homes built as part of a larger multi-unit development, there are vastly different levels of maintenance and living style that affect their values.


#15

See! Its like having somebody thats never been to your property, that knows nothing about your property, decide its worth half its current value, and then go tell the whole world via the internet. F-ck you Zillow.


#16

This is an interesting question, i have no insight for this though. A rough guess would be that as long as the blog isn’t publishing the geographical information for particular homes, while still providing satirical commentary i couldn’t see how the blogger is being malicious. Unless a given home is particularly well known. But then wouldn’t most public pictures be potentially liable to lawsuits if something in the picture creates a negative image?


#17

Except many, many people choose not to use a real estate agent and don’t have that intimate knowledge. So while the data Zillow and Redfin provide isn’t a perfect replacement for a professional, it can be worthwhile for people wading into that.


#18

Whilst perusing Zillow, look at the length of time any particular listing
has been languishing on that site. I found some at 1500 - 2000 days. WTF!


#19

Again, if people are using data poorly, that’s their fucking fault. And as someone who has bought and sold a few different properties in the post-Zillow world, I’ve never had an offer- or counter- reference “zestimates.”


#20

It’ll be back sometime today. She’s apparently archiving it just in case, and trying to do so without interruptions.


#21

Gee, Zillow claiming rights in photos that they are not the copyright holders reminds me greatly of the “Broadcast rights treaty” insanity.