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devastated kitchen
Devastated kitchen in a demolition house

Zillow’s House-Flipping Misadventure

People know more about their homes and neighborhoods than algorithms could possibly know

Zillow has become the largest real estate website in the United States, with detailed data on millions of homes including square footage, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, year built, and price and tax history. If the home is or has been offered for sale or rent, there are also interior and exterior photographs and more. Zillow uses its massive database to provide proprietary computer-generated estimates of market values and rental values. When Zillow went public in 2011, its IPO filing with the SEC boasted that, [O]ur algorithms will automatically generate a new set of valuation rules based on the constantly changing universe of data included in our database. This allows us to provide timely home value information on a massive…