Zillow Now Tells the World About Your Foreclosure
Privacy advocates raise an eyebrow at new feature
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted Oct 26, 2012 1:10 PM CDT
A "bank owned" sign is seen on a home that is listed as a foreclosure on a HUD website, in Hawthorne, Calif., July 21, 2010.   (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

(Newser) – If you were hoping your neighbors wouldn't find out about your financial troubles, we've got some bad news. Zillow.com, a popular site allowing people to see how much homes are worth, is now allowing users to search for homes that are headed for foreclosure—even if they're not yet for sale, the LA Times reports. Visitors will be able to see whether the homeowner has defaulted, and by how much, and what the house might sell for, among other details.

While this information has always been technically public, it was only available via cumbersome public record searches. Zillow says it's offering a service by making it more transparent. "This helps buyers become smarter about their local market," the site's marketing officer says, and it could help underwater borrowers, too, by exposing them to potential buyers. But privacy advocates are concerned. "Sometimes things are protected not by the law, but by the act of having to go look it up," says one professor.

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Showing 3 of 11 comments
I_am_the_danger
Oct 27, 2012 2:01 PM CDT
Brilliant. This information is available to the public. (If you don't like that, write your congress person.) Services like RealtyTrac already aggregate this data and charge for their trouble. Kudos to Zillow for evolving a business model, and I see nothing wrong with making public information more easily accessible.
DougMasters
Oct 27, 2012 1:22 PM CDT
If I was staring down the barrel of the foreclosure rifle I think the last thing I cared about would be if someone knew I was in foreclosure.
WiccanFerret
Oct 27, 2012 5:39 AM CDT
To be honest, as someone who has gone through a foreclosure and bankruptcy, I can see how this could be a good thing. What if a family facing foreclosure gets an offer that pays off all their debt? That could be a godsend, and if you're poor, the last thing you can afford to do is hire an appraiser to see what your home might be worth on the market. That's a joke.