Zillow Announces – Home Q & A

Zillow.com Launches Home Q&A

“Ask Questions, Share Answers

33 thoughts on “Zillow Announces – Home Q & A

  1. I’m wondering if we can put photos up of all the houses in the Country? Just walk down the street, take a photo of every house and load them up.

    “Anyone can now add an unlimited number of photos to any home’s Web page.

  2. Ardell, I think this is a brilliant marketing move. Homeowners will want to have control over the pictures of their own homes, so they will jump on Z and claim their property. It is 12:23 AM and I am applauding Z. Can you guys hear me from Edmonds?

    Let’s say I’m Jo Realtor. If I want to market a neighborhood, yes, I’ll take pics of the homes in my market segment and upload them. Why? So I can connect with the homeowner.

    Jo Realtor isn’t going to put up photos of all the houses, just as many as she wants to.

    There is plenty of business………………………………….for Realtor Jo and those who choose not to wait in order to play this game.

    I love it!

  3. Jillayne – THANKS!

    Ardell –

    I agree; the big news here will ultimately be what people do with Home Q&A. Without participation, these features aren’t that interesting — with it, they will be fascinating. Like a blog; it’s kind of boring until the audience shows up and starts to get involved in the conversation. That’s what can now happen on Zillow — and whether it’s big news is really up to you.

    So, I do hope it’s a frenzy but I also hope I’m not removing POS photo’s all day long (what a horrible thought). I hope that helpful answers prevail — but please vote against any unhelpful ones. We expect users to behave themselves and will remove offensive content — please hit that “flag content” link if you see anything that violates our good neighbor policy — http://www.zillow.com/howto/GoodNeighborPolicy.htm

    I think you’ve misread Lloyd Frink; his point was that your knowledge isn’t working for you when you aren’t sharing it — like you do when you are blogging. Zillow is just a new forum to do share your knowledge like you do on your blog. Lloyd was also saying that some homeowners and neighbors are also neighborhood experts in their own right – and all 3 (agents, neighbors and homeowners) will have great answers to contribute.

    Cutie pie is a new one – it was great to see you both!

  4. This is very interesting. I wonder if a neighbor made comments that were derogatory about a property, and the property did not sell or if the information was not accurate; if the seller would have a case for a suit against the neighbor?

    Do home owners have the option to prevent their home photos from being displayed or to control comments?

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  6. Rhonda,

    Of course that line of Frink’s just ruined it for me. Makes me think about the things we say about houses when no one can hear us, like:

    Are they kidding? Who the heck put that on market with lime green walls and hot pink wood trim?

    Great house, but they are DREAMING if they think anyone’s going to pay THAT for it.

    Who the heck wants their powder room door positioned right next to the dining toom chair in the middle of the formal dining room? All the dinner guests will hear you taking a pee pee.

    I sure hope the buyers can see past the staging to the ton of work that needs to be done in this place.

    2,750 sf MY A.., they must have included the dog house, the tool shed and half the neighbors house in that calulation.

    Great! She raised the price…AGAIN! That’s been on market every season for the last three years, and every time it doesn’t sell, the owner RAISES the price. Maybe she just likes having a sign in her front yard, or is lonely and needs “the company of strangers”.

    Would I attach those comments directly to the houses referred to in them? No way!

    I loved the one I went to a few weeks ago where you had to crawl through a hole in the wall to get to the ladder that took you to the second floor. They called it “the secret room” 🙂

    Or the one the owner had me climbing up the roof (no stairs or rail) to get to “the roof deck”.

    We see a lot of crazy stuff every day, but don’t think we are going to be posting it in public except the way we already do…generically.

  7. Or how about after we “cancel after inspection” because the sewer line is running in the wrong direction! Yikes! You would think a brand new house would have fewer than 26 major noted defects! We run like the wind from there! Let’s go post that info so other buyers don’t get zinged.

    Or the one that had three inches of water and the seller took it off market “waiting for spring” and his answer to the problem from the owner AND the agent was “It doesn’t always rain this hard”.

    Hmmmm untrap the info in our brains. YUP, Rhonda…could be a ton of lawsuits in that can of worms.

  8. Ardell you crack me up. Re comments from #9, yes, agents say those things and also, neighbors say things like that, too.

    Water in the crawl space, and other known defects: well, a seller is suppose to disclose those things anyways so sure, if a lawsuit is going to happen, it would have happened anyways. Sewer line going the other way? Please post this comment. Talk about transparency! Z is putting real estate into the hands of the average Joe/Jo, who will want to read the neighborhood comments on Z before making an offer.

    Regarding the comment about the powder room being right next to the dining room….someone else could add a comment about how they fixed that problem by installing a loud bathroom fan and placing a feng shui fountain right near the powder room door.

    I think this sounds like a marvelous idea.

    Pictures of my house? Google earth already has a picture of my house. Sure, it’s the roof top. When we all started playing around with it, many of us wished we could swing the camera around to see the front of the house.

    Z has created a viral marketing machine. A potential real estate you tube. Sign me up to purchase some stock, NOW.

  9. Ardell –

    I do think you’ve misunderstood Lloyd’s quote — please read my explanation above.

    Rhonda and Ardell –

    You both raise valid concerns about the potential for misbehavior. Here’s my take on it … there’s always incentives for bad behavior — but it will happen offline as easily as it can online. The beauty of bringing these conversations online into a shared public web page on Zillow is that you now have the ability to publicly set the record straight for everyone to see and your competitors can’t go behind your back like they can off line. This transparency we’ve added to the conversations already happening about homes should go a long way to better inform prospective buyers and seller — as long as you participate in the discussion. We’ve invited contributions to Zillow since last September when we allowed owners to update their home’s facts — and so far, users of our website have not abused that opportunity – I have faith that that will be our experience going forwards – faith and the ability to ban anyone who violates our good neighbor policy (http://www.zillow.com/howto/GoodNeighborPolicy.htm) 😉

  10. Fyi, the bubbleheads are a jealous malicious bunch. Not to mention they have lots of free time on their hands to post all sorts of disturbing photos on Zillow day and night. I give it 2-3 months before this “great new feature” is gone.

  11. Ardell –

    I do think you’ve misunderstood Lloyd’s quote — please read my explanation above.

    Now, why am I not surprised? jeez..read the mans comments first before going on and on

  12. David, as I said in my comments above, I think this will be very interesting. I wish I could find stories about my house I’m in now.

    The last house I bought as a single gal, I most likely would not have purchased if I would have had an inside scoop (I’m picturing my former neighbors and I don’t think they would have participated in providing on line tips on my old house…darn it!). In hind sight, I’m glad I did buy that home in spite of all the repairs I had to do that my (worthless) home inspector missed. I did well selling it and better than that, I did enjoy living there for the 5 years I owned it.

  13. Hi Ardell,

    Although I see Zillow’s reasoning behind opening up a glorified chat room for everyone’s house, I believe the risk of wrong/misleading info out weighs the benefits. Perhaps I’m too jaded (we attorneys often seem to get that way having to solve everyone else’s problems); but unless Zillow limits the comments to the home’s owner and/or occupier, I see this as being simply a way that more irrelevant, irrational, and unsubstantiated opinions will potentially confuse and mislead prospective buyers. Adding more subjectivity at the expense of objectivity hurts us, not helps us, in my opinion.

    ~Joe Lawyer~

  14. “Adding more subjectivity at the expense of objectivity hurts us, not helps us, in my opinion.”

    Where’s that objectivity coming from again, Joe?

    Right now, the buyer learns only what the seller and his sell-side realtor is mandated by law to disclose and whatever their inspector can dig up in a couple hours, if they aren’t forced to waive inspection to compete with multiple bids.

    Right now the information available is about as objective as reading a pumper email and then buying his penny stock. Anything, even innacurate or biased information, must be better than that.

  15. “Anything, even innacurate or biased information, must be better than that.”

    Biliruben – you think that innacurate information is better than limited information??

  16. Speaking of Zillow, I had a recent conversation with a consumer who, about two weeks ago, made a full price offer on a home which was accepted. A few days later the consumer ended up on Zillow and found the seller put the house on the market for about 25% more than they paid less than 10 moths ago. Evidently, this led to the deal being squashed since the improvement (s), or lack thereof, made to the home defied that kind of appreciation. From what I understood, the buyers agent never brought up sold comps to justify the selling price to the consumer.

    I wonder if this is the fallout or unintended consequence of providing sold data via Zillow among others who followed Zillow’s lead in this regard?

  17. Biliruben,

    To make an informed decision, buyers need as much objective info about the property they’re considering as possible, not more subjective info (the seller and their agent, if any, will already be filling the buyers with plenty of subjective info on why the house is such a great deal). I think Zillow means well by offering this service in which EVERYONE can comment on someone else’s property; but I see it as being too error prone, and rife with the potential for abuse in some situations.

    Certainly, inaccurate and biased info is NOT better than objective info as far as I’m concerned.

  18. “Certainly, inaccurate and biased info is NOT better than objective info as far as I’m concerned.”


    I just don’t know, beyond that info required by law, how a buyer is going to obtain objective info. I suggest objective info doesn’t exist. There is always a bias.

    When I purchased, the sellers refused to meet with us until after we closed. My guess is they didn’t want to have to disclose some of the seedier issues surround our neighbors, among other things.

    If Zillow and this feature were available back then, I might have gotten lucky and had another nosy neighbor flesh out a bit of info about the glorified halfway house nextdoor. The sellers were very nice people, but they weren’t stupid.

    There is no objectivity when there is an obvious monetary to lie or avoid the hard questions.

    This is just basic human nature, and frankly I’m insulted that anyone would be so disingenious as to imply otherwise.

  19. Biliruben, would your neighbors have entered “another nosy neighbor flesh out a bit of info about the glorified halfway house nextdoor” about themselves? The seller certainly will not and did not tell you. That’s the point about my house that I bought a while back. My neighbors kept to themselves and propbably would not have entered on my old house that it had a large mystery grow room built into the basement (I found it after closing); or that the next door neighbor had the worlds largest pit bull; or that I had a one of a kind rubber roof that had to be replaced immediately after purchase (my realtor told me it would last forever and that I did not need a roof inspection–this was before I was in lending; I was in title insurance then). My neighbors were too polite (except for the one with the barking dog).

    Tim, the buyers on that transaction could easily find out public records from visiting the county’s site or asking for comps from the title company (all though I wouldn’t expect buyers to know about asking for comps). Zillow shouldn’t be to blame for the sale slipping. Did the property appraise?

  20. Biliruben,

    I agree with you that truly objective info is virtually impossible to find. However, it seems to me getting objective info is getting harder to find all the time…everything seems to be opinion-based reporting…neutral, objective reporting in which the listener/reader makes up their own mind is all but extinct (if it ever really existed…but that’s another issue).

    I’m sorry to hear your had those problems with your house. Yes, perhaps a feature such as Zillow’s Q & A may have prevented that. However, I see too much opportunity for abuse (again, I’m an attorney, and maybe I’m jaded). For example, if I’m selling my house, the last thing I want is some idiot thinking he’ll get a lower price, and possibly scare away competing buyers, by fabricating a bunch of lies that I’m now going to have to defend.

    Just as you stated, I too don’t believe anyone is likely to comment on someone else’s house unless they have a monetary incentive to do so. Thus, I fear Zillow’s new Q & A forum will not meaninfully further objective dialog…it seems like simply more unecessary “stuff” we’ll have to wade through to get to something close to the truth.

  21. Maybe we will see some of that, Joe.

    I, however, think a dialogue will get closer to the truth than the monologue we have now.

    I don’t care if things are neat and clean.

    For the largest purchase or sale that many people will likely be making in their lives, I think most are unlike you.

    They want to ask the hard questions.

    They don’t mind sifting through the various information and weighing what to believe and what to discount.

    Buyers don’t want the information they recieve sanitized to the sellers benefit.

    If this is done properly, this will be a large step forward in trying to attain allusive transparancy for the consumer.

    Make it messy. Give me all the info I can possibly absorb, let me sift through it, roll around in it, give each piece the sniff test, and make me as educated as I possibly can be on this purchase that could make or break my financial future as well as have eiter wonderful or devestating effects on my short and long-term quality of life.

    I don’t want this process easy or sanitized. I want it to be dirty but informative to the point where I thoroughly understand all the good and, more importantly, all the bad that signing those 5 dozen pieces of paper is going to get me.

  22. Biliruben, many would not buy if homes were trashed by neighbors without cause. You just need a shadow of doubt to shy away from a purchase that (like in my case) can turn out to be very beneficial and rewarding in the long run. What if you just have a nasty neighbor or someone you have a beef with and this is there way of screwing up your life? I’m trusting that Zillow will monitor and enforce their “nice neighbor” policy. If a seller does not disclose defects as in what is disclosed on Form 17, they would be liable.

    It is a “buyer beware” and up to the buyer to fully research the home they are purchasing.

  23. Hi Rhonda-

    I agree. It’s not Zillow’s fault if a deal fell through. I just thought it was interesting how this deal fell through. The buyers agent never brought up any sold comps to justify the full price offer that was, I presume, eagerly accepted. From what I understood and I’m not privy to all the details, the buyer found out the information on their own via Zillow and initiated the events that I led to the deal falling apart—buyer learning that the home was essentially a flip with minimal improvements that the buyer thought was basically laughable. To me it appeared strange that a buyers agent didn’t discuss sold comps and selling history of the subject home with the buyer.

  24. Biliruben,

    I’ve been unable to respond due to RCG’s server being down this morning.

    You seem to be misunderstanding me. I never said I was against having a dialog between seller and buyer(s)…quite to the contrary, this is exactly what should be happening. Furthermore, the hard questions should also be asked and answered. Ultimately, both seller and buyer should enter into the home sale transaction fully informed as best they can be with as much objective, relevant and meaningful information as they can get (and hopefully, they might even find the process informative, useful and enjoyable).

    As far as your statement, “I don’t want this process easy or sanitized”. I think consumers are best served with as easy a process as possible…complicated, cumbersome processes will drive customers away from Zillow, not encourage them to come back. As far as being “sanitized” is concerned, if Zillow doesn’t find some method to constantly monitor all these glorified “chat rooms”, it risks having them spiral out of control into what is effectively a “Jerry Springer Show” for home sales. I could make millions off suing idiot third-parties who get onto Zillow’s home sale “chat rooms”, saying all kinds of wild, stupid comments that damage home owners.

    I think Zillow is a GREAT business that has the potential to help bring down the real estate cartell, and help open up a free home sale market. It’s been making great progress towards this; but again, I feel this Q & A “chat room” won’t work if every silly third-party can say virtually anything they want to.

  25. Hey Ardell,

    I want to temper my enthusiasm because some people are questioning my motivation. So, take this with a grain of salt.

    What Zillow just did REQUIRES homeowners and agents to “protect” their properties on Zillow. It ain’t necessarily fair but it is brilliant. Zillow, in one fell swoop, created a national MLS database by demanding that homeowners who care about their property WILL pay attention to the accuracy of the info on it.

    I’m, obviously, excited to see where I can profit from this.

  26. Regarding the “subjective” analysis – Don’t buyers have any ability to sift through the BS? The fact is that a huge number of properties and neighborhoods have some “condition” that wouldn’t be obvious to a potential buyer that spent a few afternoons checking out the home – and if it’s not something covered by an required disclosure, the current owner is better keping their mouth shut – and both agents involved may not know about the condition, or feel it’s not in their best interest to disclose it.

    Just about every other product you can buy today has online reviews. These reviews may be incorrect due to ignorance or outright malice, but that’s just how it is. Why should it be any different for homes?

  27. i am just curious, we just purchased a home 6 months ago, a manufactured home, and at both ends of the house it is coming apart. The seller that we purchased it threw, we were told by neighbors that he had it releved right before we purchased it, is there any thing that we can do.

  28. Tina,

    That’s a lawyer question. You need to contact a lawyer when you have big issues after closing. Here “manufatured” homes are really mobile homes. I don’t have any experience with mobile homes. In some states they are “personal property” and not real estate and have the same laws as cars on resale.

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