Internet juggernaut Zillow is facing some opposition from the state of Arizona. According to Mashable:
The state of Arizona has issued a cease and desist to Zillow, citing that Zillow needs to be a certified appraiser in order to offer up the information the site is known for. Zillow gets their information from public documents and offers property estimates accordingly. Many in the real estate industry, including Realtors and the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, have disliked Zillow from the start, insisting that the estimates provided is often incorrect.
While I won’t comment directly about the legal matter, I will say that I am frequently asked by people about the accuracy of Zillow. It seems that most users that I’ve spoken to think they are getting an appraisal of their property, regardless of what Zillow says. It seems that perception has led to reality. If people think they are getting an appraisal, then they are getting an appraisal.
I believe the only way for Zillow to stop this perception is to be very clear about what they offer. I believe the site must place a visible disclaimer to let people know that their Zestimates are not appraisals, but calculations made using their own, proprietary algorithms. This should be front and center on the site and should also appear with any and all calculations. Otherwise, it is understandable to see why people look at their valuations as appraisals.
In order to get a true appraisal on a property, you need human judgement. There is an art to an appraisal, which can’t be replicated by a website. With tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars, Zillow has the financial power to fight this C&D order . . . I guess time will tell what the result is.
Regardless, I think we’ll continue to see battles fought over what a legal appraisal is and I suspect Zillow won’t listen to my suggestions anyway. They have grown in popularity exponentially because of the perception they have created . . . if not, the site would have been nothing more then yet another novelty act.
(Material’s original source: The Columbian)