Zillow.com estimates draw fire, state ban

Connect to Zillow:  Zillow.com - Your Edge in Real Estate

Peter Corbett
The Arizona Republic
Apr. 14, 2007 12:00 AM

An Arizona regulatory board has ordered Zillow.com to stop offering its online estimates of home values.

The Arizona Board of Appraisal has issued two cease-and-desist letters to the popular real estate Web site, claiming Zillow needs an appraiser license to offer its "zestimates" in Arizona.

"It is the board's feeling that (Zillow) is providing an appraisal," said Deborah Pearson, Board of Appraisal executive director.

Seattle-based Zillow cautions users that its information is a starting point for consumers, not a definitive value. It has been popular since its launch in February 2006. It claims 4 million users a month, including those curious about their home's value, and the value of friends' and neighbors' residences.

It has drawn criticism from real estate professionals and others about accuracy. The non-profit National Community Reinvestment Coalition filed a complaint in October with the Federal Trade Commission alleging Zillow was misleading consumers and real estate professionals with its estimates.

"We have responded to the letters from the Arizona Board of Appraisal and hope to engage in a productive dialogue with them," said Amy Bohutinsky, Zillow director of communications.